Many of you have likely heard the terms dark web, deep web, deepnet, hidden web, invisible web, or undernet in some of your discussions, books, or even movies. This is another layer of World Wide Web (WWW) content that exists on these darknets which is overlayed using the public Internet however you require specific software and configurations to access. This hidden content is not considered part of the surface web we all use on a daily basis. Big search engines like Google or Bing do not crawl and index this darknet content.
One of the most well-known underground sites was the anonymous narcotics bazaar called the Silk Road. It had been running for 2.5 years until the FBI shut it down in the fall of 2013. When they seized the website, they also got $4 million in bitcoins which was the cryptocurrency being used to buy drugs on the Silk Road. The Silk Road generated an estimated $1.2 billion in revenues since its creation.
How do you access the dark web?
There are many different ways to access. A common and easy to get started method is by installing the Tor anonymous web browser. Behind the scenes when browsing the Internet using Tor, there are a series of virtual tunnels that connect you to the actual website. You are not making a direct connection. The idea is that they cannot trace back to the IP address of your network but rather it appears as though you are located somewhere else in the world. As such, Tor connections are a lot slower and not good for large files (images, videos, etc).
There are ways to search privately using your favorite search engine such as google by going to https://search.disconnect.me/
To further ensure your privacy, follow these tips to remain anonymous and not compromise your connection using other programs.
Also be aware that the NSA surveillance program called X-Keyscore might automatically add you to their watchlist based on your curiosity of trying out Tor. This might not concern most, however if you like wearing your tinfoil hats then maybe you shouldn’t try it out.
What are some dark web sites?
Hidden service Tor sites make use of a special top level domain: .onion
These are not actual DNS names but require special software to view them such as the Tor web browser. An example address looks like this: duskgytldkxiuqc6.onion (note that you can actually visit this page in Tor, it is an example page).
In addition to web pages with content, you could create an SSH server, IRC server, or any other type of server and offer it as a hidden service on Tor. It is possible to view .onion pages without the Tor browser by going through https://tor2web.org/ however this is strongly advised against as your connection is not anonymous.