Thanks to TV shows, whistle blowers, and Hillary Clinton’s emails, everyone has now heard about the deep web.
While most people think that the deep web is that mysterious place where you need to have specialized servers to access it, that’s not necessarily true. You can access the deep web anonymously from your computer, with just a few steps and this guide; prepare to enter the Internet’s dark side.
Why Access The Deep Web?
An Internet connection provides a whole world of information right at your fingertips.
Whatever or whoever is it that you want to find, the Internet can find that or them. But this free-flow of data comes with a set of disadvantages as well, starting mainly with privacy. There’s hardly any anonymity left on the Internet, with big corporations tracking users’ every move and then using that data for targeted online ads.
Not to mention, the government is also tracking Internet users, and they have very casually passed the necessary bills to spy on their citizens.
The deep web gives you the opportunity to become truly anonymous, with no way for any government or corporation to track you down, (unless they’re hanging around on the deep web as well, which they probably are).
That’s why the deep web is mainly used for illegal activities, like:
- Selling drugs
- Transacting bitcoins
- Selling weapons
- Underage porn
- Providing stolen credit cards
But at the same time, the deep web is also used by journalists to get information from sources anonymously. The New Yorker, for instance, already has a deep web link called StrongBox, setup for this very purpose.
People access the deep web because they are intrigued by it. With mainstream shows like Mr. Robot and House of Cards already talking about it, users want to use the deep web, just to see what’s down the rabbit hole.
Everything Needed to Access The Deep Web
1. Tor Browser (necessary)
Short for the “Onion Router,” Tor is a package which runs on top of a browser and lets you surf the dark web’s sites. Tor uses a network of volunteer relays that route a user’s Internet connection.
All the traffic bounces through a number of relays, across the world, and the connection gets completely encrypted. Without Tor, you won’t be able to access most deep web sites.
2. A VPN Service (optional, highly recommended)
According to a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in early 2016, just accessing Tor gives the FBI enough probable cause to search and seize your computer, anywhere around the world.
That’s why, while you can directly access Tor without a VPN, it is not recommended to do so. In particular, we recommend reading our ExpressVPN review, for some insight into the kind of privacy service you should look for.
Your Internet service provider would know that you’re accessing Tor, and in turn, the government will know the same. They might not be able to see what you are doing on the dark web, but it’s enough to raise suspicions.
3. Sticky tape (optional, recommended)
Don’t worry; you don’t have to abduct someone to access the deep web, the sticky tape is require for your web-cam. When going anonymous on the Internet, leaving a web-cam open is a rookie mistake.
Speaking of mistakes, here’s a list of the top five “mistakes not to make” before going on the deep web:
- If a torrent application is open in the background, close it before connecting Tor (in short, no torrenting!)
- It goes without saying that you shouldn’t give out any personal information on the deep web
- If you have downloaded a file from the deep web, Tor recommends to only open it after disconnecting
- Do not click on suspicious links (ever, even on the normal web)
- Do not draw attention or make enemies: there are dangerous people on the deep web (to say the least)
Steps to Accessing the Deep Web Anonymously
1. Connect to a VPN
There are many VPNs available online for you to choose from. While a 128-bit encrypted VPN is good, a 256-bit one would be much more safer. Also, make sure your VPN doesn’t save any meta-data or logs, otherwise the service will know that you’re accessing the deep web.
Most VPNs provide installation guides to make it easy for users to run them. I used CactusVPN, directly downloaded their .exe file and ran the setup wizard.
There was a prompt to also install OpenVPN and that’s about it.
The VPN provide specific login details, to connect with the VPN server, thus providing a great way to keep an email address hidden. After login, there will be a number of servers for you to choose from.
While I’ve picked U.S. servers just for the heck of it, it’s always better to choose a server outside the US, just for better privacy assurance. Once you’ve chosen a server, just click on connect.
2. Using the Tor Browser
Tor is available for:
- Mac OS X
If you’re using it on an everyday browser, then it’s crucial to sign out from everywhere else first.
It’s better to use a different browser than your usual one; for instance, if you use Chrome for everything, then download Mozilla Firefox for Tor. After tapping on the “Download” button, there will be a prompt to save the setup file.
Your download speeds will probably be a bit slower than usual, because you’re connected to a VPN.
Once the installation is done, a setup window will open, which installs Tor on your computer.
After the installation ends, check mark the “Run Tor Browser” option and click “Finish.”
Now, a prompt will open in your browser asking to “Connect” or “Configure.” Click on “Connect” to move forward.
Tor will now establish an Internet connection. A process that usually takes some time, so don’t cancel it just because the progress bar looks stuck.
Once the connection gets established, you’ll see the Tor Browser’s home page.
To check if the connection is configured correctly, click on “Test Tor Network Settings.”
3. Browse The Deep Web
So, after successfully connecting to the deep web, where do we go from here?
Unlike the free-flowing Internet, the deep’s websites use “.onion” instead of “.com,” and they aren’t advertised anywhere. Instead, you have to look for them in directories like:
You can also use sub-reddits like:
To learn about new onion websites. I ventured into the deep web’s marketplace and saw some disturbing stuff — there were stolen credit cards, leaks and hitmen for hire available.
If you wish to uninstall Tor after a rendezvous with the dark web, then just delete all its files from the OS system and its recycling bin.
While it can seem thrilling to access the deep web and see what criminals and hackers discuss in real-time, it is important to remember that the deep web is a dangerous place. If it’s your first time accessing the deep, take all the measures outlined above and don’t draw attention to yourself.
Of course, it goes without saying (that’s why I’m saying it) that you shouldn’t provide personal information to anybody on the deep web.
Have you accessed this dark portal of the Internet? What was your experience like?
Share your thoughts and experiences with us, in the comments section below.