The truth is, most of us haven’t even skimmed the surface of the information available on the internet. And possibly will never do.
While the majority of people spend their time on websites like Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, and the various blogs now online, there are thousands more hidden away. This is where the dark web comes in.
What is the dark web? It's a place where you can buy anything from narcotics to illegal exotic animals, and peoples’ personal information.
Heck, you could even hire a hitman if you wanted to! Not saying that you should, though.
That said, it’s also a place where journalists go to get a scoop for their next big story.
Now, here's the thing.
You can't find the dark web websites on Google, nor you can access them with a regular browser. And there are plenty of dangers if you decide to visit, so you have to be prepared.
So, if you feel prepared to enter the Dark Web, let's do this!
Here's how to safely access the Dark Web using a Tor Dark Web browser:
- Step 1 - Research the dark web further before jumping in head first
- Step 2 - Cover up your camera and microphone
- Step 3 - Download the Tor browser for your device
- Step 4 - Couple the Tor browser with a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Step 5 - Sign up for an untraceable email address
Step 1: Do Some Research Before You Start
With so many illegal activities and cybercrime taking place on the dark web, it’s important to know that it's not all fun and games.
While the hidden internet sounds exciting, it's also a place for a lot of crime. Unfortunately, if you run into the wrong thing, you could face some serious consequences.
In the past few years, authorities have arrested hundreds of people dealing with illegal drugs as well as selling weapons, cash, and precious metals without licenses. This part of the web is also a place where people participate in kidnapping and sex trafficking.
So, before you start, know precisely what you're looking for and be wary of the dangers.
Step 2: Cover up Your Camera and Microphone
Sounds a bit paranoid? A bit don't-forget-to-wear-a-tinfoil-hat?
Well, the risk is real and you should take precautions.
As I've already covered in the Dark Web Isn't Super Nice step just above, here you might get easily hacked by various malicious groups.
It’s now easier than ever before for people to spy on you, and I’m not just talking about the FBI and NSA.
Criminals, creeps, hackers and many other tech-savvy individuals and entities have been caught spying on people via their webcams, or microphones.
With the above in mind, make sure to put a piece of opaque tape over your webcam. This will stop anyone from snooping on you while you’re logged on. And as for the microphone, well, that's a bit of a different story. If possible, you could disable it physically. Or also use a bit of tape - it's not a perfect solution, but it's something.
Step 3: Download the Tor Browser for Your Device
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to download the Tor dark web browser. The browser was originally used to help safeguard online communications for US intelligence agencies. Today, it’s one of the only ways to access the dark web.
To download the browser, head over to the Tor website. From there, click on “Download” on the top right-hand side of your page.
On the next page, click on “Download” again. Once the download starts, you may have to wait for up to an hour for it to complete depending on your internet speed.
Once the download is complete, open the file. Then, click on “Connect” or go to “Configure” if you’d like to change the settings.
Next, you’ll have to wait for Tor to establish a connection to the Tor network.
When you’re connected to the network, you can start exploring Tor browser websites. Tor allows you to undertake searches using DuckDuckGo, a browser that indexes sites on the dark web.
Step 4: Couple the Tor Browser With a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
So, now you're all but ready to visit the Dark Web? Not so fast. Your government and Internet service provider are probably more than interested to know what you're doing out there.
Even though it's not always made public, but the government agencies are attempting to track all of your steps on the Dark Web.
This is why it would be unwise to start without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
While Tor has been modified to let users browse the web anonymously, I suggest you couple it with a VPN because while Tor hides your identity, it doesn’t mask your location. A VPN allows you to connect to the web via a server of your choosing. By doing so, you’ll receive a new IP address, thus making it near impossible for anyone to know who and where you are.
When it comes to VPN services, I recommend you use NordVPN. Nord has the largest repertoire of servers and it comes with great security features. I also found that it’s one of the most affordable VPNs on the market at the moment.
Whichever VPN service you go for, make sure that it has an application for your most used devices and that it comes with servers in your preferred location so you can also bypass geo-restrictions on the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and various other streaming websites.
Step 5: Sign Up for an Untraceable Email Address
Many websites on the dark web require you to register using an email address. With this in mind, it’s important that you sign up for an untraceable email address. While I chose ProtonMail, you can also go for Mail2Tor or TORbox.
To create an account with ProtonMail, head over to the website and click on “Get Your Encrypted Email Account”. Alternatively, you can click on “Sign Up” on the top right-hand corner of your screen.
Next, choose your plan. I went for the free plan, however, if your budget allows you can always go for one of the paid ones.
You’ll then be asked to add your preferred credentials including a password. You’ll also be able to set a recovery email address in case you forget it.Once you’ve added your information, click on “Create Account”.
When you complete this stage of the signup process, tick the “Captcha” box. Then, click on “Complete Setup”.
Once the setup is complete, you’re free to check out your dashboard.
There, you’ll see three emails from Proton welcoming you and giving you security tips.
Additional Steps to Take When Using a Dark Web Browser
Navigating on the dark web shouldn’t be taken lightly and you must be especially precautious in order to stay safe and anonymous. With this in mind, it’s important that you take the following extra measures:
- Check that your Tor browser is up-to-date
- Stop using applications that run scripts
- Be careful when downloading files on the dark web
While browsing the internet may seem relatively harmless, the dark web may open up a whole new can of worms that even the most security conscious internet users don’t know how to deal with.
And finally, in order to really browse, you need to know some websites. So just to get you started, here are a few links you should keep.
http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/ DuckDuckGo - a search engine which will protect your privacy from various authority figures and creeps.
http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page The Hidden Wiki - like Wikipedia, only censorship-free and guaranteeing total anonymity to its editors and readers.
https://www.propub3r6espa33w.onion/ ProPublica - unbiased, nonprofit journalism site aimed at investigative articles and public interest.
Last but not least, beware of users that want to be your friends on the dark web. Remember that using the dark web isn’t like making friends on social media sites. Friends from the dark web can have some dark secrets.
Have you used a dark web browser before? If so, please share any tips you may have in the comments below.