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A Beginner's Guide to Exploring the Darknet

Updated on August 29, 2016

A hidden Internet exists underneath the 'surface web,' hidden from the view of ordinary web users. It always aroused my curiosity, but I never really followed up to see whether I could access it. The dark web is intimidating. I assumed it was full of criminals and would have little to offer a law-abiding citizen such as myself. I also thought it would be difficult to access and that it would require some kind of advanced technical skill, or perhaps a special invitation from a shadowy figure on seedy bulletin boards. I decided to investigate these assumptions.

One of the things that really struck me was how easy it is to access and start exploring the darknet—it requires no technical skills, no special invitation, and takes just a few minutes to get started.

In this article I will share information on how to access and navigate the dark web, as well as my personal experiences and thoughts.

What Are the Surface, Deep, & Dark Webs?

surface web
deep web
dark web
anything that can be found via a typical search engine (Google Chrome, Safari, etc.)
things your typical search engine can't find (government databases, libraries, etc.)
a small portion of the deep web that is intentionally hidden and made inaccessible via search engines (the Tor network, only accessible via Tor browser)

What Is the Darknet?

Most people are confused about what exactly the darknet is. Firstly, it is sometimes confused with the deep web, a term that refers to all parts of the Internet which cannot be indexed by search engines and so can't be found through Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so forth. Experts believe that the deep web is hundreds of times larger than the surface web (i.e., the Internet you get to via browsers and search engines).

In fact, most of the deep web contains nothing sinister whatsoever. It includes large databases, libraries, and members-only websites that are not available to the general public. Mostly, it is composed of academic resources maintained by universities. If you've ever used the computer catalog at a public library, you've scratched its surface. It uses alternative search engines for access though. Being unindexed, it cannot be comprehensively searched in its entirety, and many deep web index projects fail and disappear. Some of its search engines include Ahmia.fi, Deep Web Technologies, TorSearch, and Freenet.

The dark web (or dark net) is a small part of the deep web. Its contents are not accessible through search engines, but it's something more: it is the anonymous Internet. Within the dark net, both web surfers and website publishers are entirely anonymous. Whilst large government agencies are theoretically able to track some people within this anonymous space, it is very difficult, requires a huge amount of resources, and isn't always successful.

Onion Networks and Anonymity

Onion networks keep you anonymous online.
Onion networks keep you anonymous online.

Anonymous Communication

Darknet anonymity is usually achieved using an onion network. Normally, when accessing the pedestrian Internet, your computer directly accesses the server hosting the website you are visiting. In an onion network, this direct link is broken, and the data is instead bounced around a number of intermediaries before reaching its destination. The communication registers on the network, but the transport medium is prevented from knowing who is doing the communication. Tor makes a popular onion router that is fairly user-friendly for anonymous communication and accessible to most operating systems.

Who Uses the Darknet?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the onion network architecture of the darknet was originally developed by the military—the US Navy to be precise. Military, government, and law enforcement organisations are still amongst the main users of the hidden Internet. This is because ordinary internet browsing can reveal your location, and even if the content of your communications is well-encrypted, people can still easily see who is talking to whom and potentially where they are located. For soldiers and agents in the field, politicians conducting secret negotiations, and in many other circumstances, this presents an unacceptable security risk.

The darknet is also popular amongst journalists and political bloggers, especially those living in countries where censorship and political imprisonment are commonplace. Online anonymity allows these people, as well as whistleblowers and information-leakers, to communicate with sources and publish information freely without fear of retribution. The same anonymity can also be used by news readers to access information on the surface web which is normally blocked by national firewalls, such as the 'great firewall of China' which restricts which websites Chinese Internet users are able to visit.

Activists and revolutionaries also use the darknet so that they can organise themselves without fear of giving away their position to the governments they oppose. Of course, this means that terrorists also use it for the same reasons, and so do the darknet's most publicized users—criminals.

Accessing the Darknet

As I said in the introduction, accessing the hidden internet is surprisingly easy. The most popular way to do it is using a service called Tor (or TOR), which stands for The Onion Router. Although technically-savvy users can find a multitude of different ways to configure and use Tor, it can also be as simple as installing a new browser. Two clicks from the Tor website and you are done, and ready to access the darknet. The browser itself is built on top of the Firefox browser's open-source code, so anybody who has ever used Firefox will find the Tor browser familiar and easy to use.

The Tor browser can be used to surf the surface web anonymously, giving the user added protection against everything from hackers to government spying to corporate data collection. It also lets you visit websites published anonymously on the Tor network, which are inaccessible to people not using Tor. This is one of the largest and most popular sections of the darknet.

Tor website addresses don't look like ordinary URLs. They are composed of a random-looking strings of characters followed by .onion. Here is an example of a hidden website address: http://dppmfxaacucguzpc.onion/. That link will take you to a directory of darknet websites if you have Tor installed; if you don't, then it is completely inaccessible to you. Using Tor, you can find directories, wikis, and free-for-all link dumps which will help you to find anything you are looking for.

Another onion network is The Freenet Project, which offers similar functionality but also allows for the creation of private networks, which means that resources located on a given machine can only be accessed by people who have been manually placed on a 'friends list.'

Another privacy network called I2P (the Invisible Internet Project) is growing in popularity. Although Tor still has many users, there seems to be a shift towards I2P, which offers a range of improvements such as integrated secure email, file storage and file sharing plug-ins, and integrated social features such as blogging and chat.

Using a VPN for Added Protection

Many Tor users also like to add an extra layer of protection by connecting to Tor using a virtual private network, or VPN. Although no one can see what you are doing online when you use an onion router, surveillance entities can see that you are using Tor to do something. In 2014, Wired UK reported widespread substantiated speculation that the NSA was tagging Tor users as extremists or persons of interest ("Use privacy services? The NSA is probably tracking you"). Although that is likely a very long tag list and there is no concrete evidence about what is done with it, it is understandably something people want to avoid. Using a VPN to connect to Tor means that nobody will be able to see that you are using it, and is therefore seen as a good solution to this problem.

Here is an interesting read if you want to learn more about VPNs and using these two systems together: Combining TOR with a VPN.

My Meanderings on the Darknet

I should make it clear from the very start that I am a beginner—a n00b, if you like, far from being a seasoned veteran. Having said that, here is my beginner's perspective on what I've found.

Diversity and Strange Contradictions

One of the things which immediately struck me about the darknet was the unusual juxtaposition of different users on the websites I found. In some ways, the dark web is a very idealistic place. You will find a lot of political writing (particularly of the libertarian, anarchist, and conspiracy-theory varieties), but also some mainstream liberal and conservative stuff.

I found it very strange that one of the main themes of the writing I saw was 'freedom of information'. The idea that information should be free and available to all seems to be very dear to the netizens of the dark web, as does the idea that governments and big business are threatening this. I found this very strange coming from a group of people for whom hiding and encrypting their own information seems to be such a major obsession. I also found it common for websites to have one section preaching high ideals and filled with moralistic exhortations, and then another filled with links to criminal enterprises. The publishers of these websites seemed either unaware of or unwilling to confront these contradictions.

The fact that so many of the dark web's users are enemies also leads to a strange dynamic. Governments, terrorists, law enforcement, and criminals are amongst the biggest users of darknet communications. I was tickled to see website security experts and criminal hackers sharing the same forums to discuss their common interests in computer security whilst hardly recognising that they are nemeses.

You Can Buy Anything With Bitcoin

The darknet's large criminal marketplaces are well known. Here, you can buy everything from drugs to assassinations. One of the first sites I came across purported to be run by a hit man offering his services to anyone willing to pay. Personally, I don't believe it. This site was probably set up as either a police sting or by a conman who will just take your money and run (there are many, many times more scammers pretending to sell illegal items than there are people genuinely selling illegal stuff in places like this).

The famous criminal marketplace Silk Road was recently taken down by a major police operation which made it into the international press. Last night it took me five minutes to find links to Silk Road 2.0, as well as other similar marketplaces. The most commonly traded illegal items appeared to be hacked PayPal accounts, drugs, fake passports, and other IDs.

All of these businesses accept only bitcoins because they can be used to conduct entirely anonymous transactions.

The future of the anonymous internet lies in cryptocurrency markets.
The future of the anonymous internet lies in cryptocurrency markets.

It Looks Like the 1990s in There!

There are very few professional-looking websites in the darknet (other than those run by a criminal enterprises, of course). Most sites are created by amateurs, and many are self hosted by people running the site on their own computer. Also, some web technologies do not work when you are using Tor. Flash, which, among other things, is used to play videos on YouTube is a glaring example. Also, accessing websites using Tor takes longer than on other browsers, and accessing sites hosted on Tor is even slower.

All of this means that using the darknet is very much like time-traveling back to the internet of the 1990s. The sites you visit have basic designs, no advanced modern features, and are slow to load. When they load at all, that is. Many sites just fail to load, possibly because they are hosted by some kid in his bedroom who has turned the computer off, or it could be because they have additional security to only allow certain people in. In any case, it's all very retro.

Cryptocurrencies and the Dark Net

Just as the darknet played a big role in the early development of the increasingly popular digital currency bitcoin, it seems that cryptocurrencies will play a major role in the future development of the darknet.

There are now several projects seeking to use the power of digital currencies to build new 'privacy networks' (which I think is the proper name for things like Tor) as well as other privacy-centric and censorship-resistant web services. Cryptocurrency and privacy networks share a lot in common already—they are both so-called 'distributed computing' projects which require a network of computers owned by private individuals to operate rather than a single, powerful web server owned by a company. In the case of privacy networks, these computers are called nodes, and are usually maintained by volunteers.

These privacy networks are extremely slow and unreliable because there are much greater incentives to use the network's resources than to provide resources to the network. Finding enough volunteers is difficult, and if they were run in a centralized way by a single company, they would not be able to provide the same privacy and anti-censorship effects.

One solution to this is to monetize people's involvement with providing darknet services by integrating them with a digital currency. These digital currencies operate using a distributed accounting ledger, and people are rewarded for helping to maintain this system, using newly created coins. Combining the two would allow the new coins to go to people whose computers are not only providing accounting services for the currency, but also privacy services to the darknet system.

Namecoin

The first attempt at this was a project called Namecoin, which is a digital currency a little bit like bitcoin, which you can use to buy and sell things or to transfer money to people anywhere in the world with minimal fees. It can also be used to create website addresses ending in .bit. These websites cannot be censored the way a government or internet service provider can censor a regular website by blocking access to it, because the location is not a static address on a single computer, but instead is distributed across the network. Namecoin also has the potential to be used for personal identity management, which could lead to email and other communication apps. The easiest way to start visiting .bit websites is by installing the Free Speech Me browser plug-in.

Safecoin

Another interesting project which is still in its testing phase but has already generated a lot of interest (and investment) is the SAFE Network and Safecoin. The SAFE Network is a fledgling privacy network integrated with cloud services and its own cryptocurrency, Safecoin. SAFE stands for 'secure access for everyone'.

Safecoin 'farmers' would run a network node on their computer, and would be rewarded for all of the resources they provide to the network, including disk space, processor power, bandwidth, and so on. In addition to building up a privacy network, other users would then be able to use Safecoins to use these resources for anything from cloud-storing files to hosting websites and apps. The SAFE Network is being developed by a company called MaidSafe, which has already sold off their ownership of the network to early adopters through a 'pre-sale' of Safecoins.

A Final Word of Advice

Anyone can access this hidden internet very easily, but if you decide to go exploring please be very careful. There is a lot of unsavoury content as well as a large number of criminals. Don't just click links without thinking about where you might end up, what you might see, or whom you might meet.

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    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      That is absolutely fascinating. I've wondered for some time about the Dark Net and I also thought it must be difficult to access. Interesting to differentiate what all these terms actually mean too. Curiosity and adventure will get the best of me and I'll have to explore the Dark Net, I'm sure. Very instructive and informative. Thanks.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I did not even know this existed. Thanks for this information. I don't think I'll be visiting anytime soon, but it's good to be informed! Voted up and shared.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      Interesting. Have never been there don't plan to go to the darknet. Voted up.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 3 years ago from USA

      I've never heard of it, but can understand why it is needed by certain factors. This is interesting information.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Glad you found it interesting Nate, I think its definitely worth at least one trip to satisfy the curiosity and adventurous spirit - and just to say you've been :)

    • JG11Bravo profile image

      JG11Bravo 3 years ago

      This is fascinating. I had only ever heard of the idea of a "darknet" in the broadest terms, so I'm glad to have a firmer grasp on the concept. I am intrigued and quite curious.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      I am a nooblet to the darknet too, have only just found out about it by reading this hub. Thank you for your explanation of what the darknet is and how to access it. Will have to check it out ;)

    • WhiteMuse profile image

      M Ziel 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I thought this was interesting. At first I thought it was about something like witchcraft, etc. I would like to find out more about it. I wonder why it is not accessed on the regular web.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      lol, I can see why you would make that mistake if you'd never heard of it before WhiteMuse. It can't be accessed like the normal web because its deliberately hidden; you have to become part of the anonymous network of computers using TOR to access it.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Suzanne, take care, and have fun!

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 3 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Great stuff electronician. I had heard of the darknet but spend too much time on front of a computer so I had no desire to explore it. I would be VERY surprised if governments did not have people exploring it via Tor or any other means.

      The most enticing part of this is the ability to be anonymous. Sometimes you just want to be the guy with no name and no face, even when doing nothing anyone could consider wrong.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Wow. All this was new to me. I don't think I would dabble in the darknet. It is like opening Pandora's box. I hope the Men in Black don't come knocking on your door. Fascinating hub!

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Lol, the men in black are the ones who made the thing in the first place Mel - and its actually promoted by many large respectable organisations as a place for journalists and activist living under oppressive regimes to operate without fear of persecution - there is nothing bad or immoral about the place itself, its just that some people use that freedom to do illegal things.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Whoa. I have never heard this!!! Very interesting hub. I know what the conversation will be at the dinner table tonight.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi amiebutchko, I'm glad you liked my hub and that I may have inspired an interesting conversation for you over dinner!

    • savvydating profile image

      Yves 3 years ago

      The name "darknet" is apropos. It just goes to show that people are not always "good." There's a whole lot of weirdness out there. That being said, I am glad that some people still hold themselves to a higher standard--but I also tend to think that this standard is a learned behavior, and not necessarily a given. At any rate, humans are lead astray rather easily...

      Your article is very compelling and gives one plenty of food for thought. Up, useful, interesting.

    • profile image

      Mklow1 3 years ago

      Wow, I've never heard of the darknet. I will take a look...once I 've worked up the courage! lol

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks savvydating, glad you found it interesting.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      As long as your careful what links you click Mklow1 you'll be fine - hope you enjoy the adventure if you do decide to take a look!

    • Dan W Miller profile image

      Dan W Miller 3 years ago from Southern California now living in Phoenix

      I like adventure. I will be very careful when I visit the dark side. You have made quite an impression on me and upon HubPages in a relatively short amount of time. Your stories makes my hubs look quite amateurish in comparison and I see glaring errors where I can improve.

      Thank you.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks Dan. I definitely feels like an adventure, so I hope you have fun! And you're hubs are pretty good too btw!

    • profile image

      justoneofthem 2 years ago

      If you just want to look around at the darknet, you can use tor2web-proxys like onion.cab or onion.to instead of installing the tor-browser at your pc

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 2 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks for the tip!

    • profile image

      bob 2 years ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Maestro 2 years ago

      Do I need flash?

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 2 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Depends if you want to watch videos or play games.

    • profile image

      Scaredycat 2 years ago

      Interesting article. I also assumed the darknet was illegal! You suggest having a look but I have to say I'd be worried about going on it due to the seeming randomness of the addresses. I might find myself in the middle of some horrific and not least illegal activity unwittingly. Then there would be the knock on my door to arrest me for viewing child porn or something equally sinister.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 2 years ago from Birmingham, England

      An understandable concern, however if you look at the dark net directory site I always found that the links are what they claim to be, so you have a pretty good idea what you are going to find when you get to a site.

    • profile image

      Scaredycat 2 years ago

      Oh that's good to know. I misunderstood - I thought I wouldn't be able to tell what I was going to be looking at. I'm more likely to go in and investigate it now via the directory. Thanks for a clear explanation of how it works.

    • profile image

      abc123d 2 years ago

      Use the site Agora, they still use escrow and are muchsafer than most:

      http://agorahooawayyfoe.onion/register/fFcwU7942p

      Can only go to the site using the Tor browser:

      https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy....

      For PGP encryption:

      http://vimeo.com/53789937

    • profile image

      Trek 2 years ago

      I tried going to the .onion site in tor browser but it didn't load anything...something wrong?

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 2 years ago from western pennsylvania

      I have heard of it but never been there yet....

    • Fran Michaels profile image

      William Gibstat 2 years ago from NY

      This is some scary stuff...

    • profile image

      splice 2 years ago

      The darknet is not safe do not browse any sites using the onion router...it was developed by the military so it is deffinately not safe ....

    • Ashley Ryan P profile image

      Ash Ryan 2 years ago from Red Dirt Country

      I'll be honest. This was a rather scary read lol. A good one, though!!

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 2 years ago from Birmingham, England

      They often go down for a while. May be permanent, may be temporary -- i'll keep an eye on it and maybe put in a replacement.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      It's funny. I just heard about the darknet about a week ago from my 14 year old son. This is the third time I have run into a mention of it since then. Isn't that always the way? Thanks the info! I'll leave exploring it to the more adventurous.

    • profile image

      Jeorge 2 years ago

      Very intriguing!

    • profile image

      MojoMouse 2 years ago

      Really interesting! I've heard of the dark net but thought that only really savvy computer people could access it. Thank you so much for the information. I'm going to have a look, even though I don't think I will be able to find the interesting stuff like subversive political writing from people in repressed countries. I'll have fun looking though!

    • Eleanor Broderick profile image

      Sarah Eller 2 years ago from Eastern Shore, USA

      Thanks! After reading this, I have realized that I had a few pieces of information, and this just put it all together. Will I choose to search the Darknet? Probably not. It's that thing, you know you probably should not do, but take great pleasure peeking through thr blinds at. Bravo.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Very interesting topic there. I'd heard about the darknet but never really though about looking into it.

    • Andrew Bing profile image

      Dragos 2 years ago from Romania

      Nicely written and very informative. I never paid much attention to the darknet but you really opened my eyes to it. Nice job! Upvoted.

    • profile image

      Pete 2 years ago

      Like so many other people in here I too had no idea that there was A world called Darknet.

      It would not be of any benefit to me to even go there as i find the regular net troublesom enough.

      However I do thank you for the article on this matter and it did make interesting read.

    • profile image

      stefano 2 years ago

      Seriously,If i can read all your coments and I know shag..all,on how these systems work,then it can't be all that private can it???? Come on guys wheres the real justification for all the big who ha about the so called dark web

    • azci profile image

      Anthony Tatowicz 2 years ago from Arlington

      Very informative! I didn't know the details of TOR's features until reading this.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Although I've heard of the darknet, I've never visited it. Not sure if there's anything I want there anyway.

      Interesting article though, and one day I may even try the darknet.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting! I probably wouldn't ever need to visit, but it is very enticing knowing that there is an underworld!

    • Gary Pick profile image

      Gary Pick 2 years ago from North Kingstown, Rhode Island

      Great subject and information. I had heard a little about this, but never realized what it entailed. Great job.

    • profile image

      Vena5 2 years ago

      Fascinating and scary! Thank you for the greatly needed guidance. I'm burning with curiosity but there is really more than I can contend with on the regular internet. The mere possibility of encountering unsavory characters or disturbing images is enough of a deterrent for me. =-)

    • livewirez profile image

      Romel Tarroza 2 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Sea

      I am always curious as what darknet is... As much as I want to surf on that page there is always a hesitation on my part because i'm afraid that most of the user of darknet are hackers and I might get hack by them.

    • GuitarGear profile image

      Walter Holokai 2 years ago from Youngstown, Ohio

      Awesome hub! I've heard about the darknet but didn't know how to access it. I'm always looking for something different on the internet. Thanks so much! I'm going to pass this info along to others. Great hub!

    • Niko Linni profile image

      Niko Linni 2 years ago from Long Beach, California

      I've never really read up much on the darknet,but this was a very informative and interesting hub - nice work!

    • FreakFran profile image

      Francine Oliveira 2 years ago from Minas Gerais, Brasil

      That's such an enlightening text! Usually we only find sensationalist articles and myths concerning deep web...

      I've been using the deep web as a resource for e-books and tutorials for awhile now and most of my knowledge about TI comes from there. Unfortunately, it is, sometimes, as if you're walking through a very dangerous neighbourhood and curiosity (specially morbid curiosity) can be a problem! Because of the whole fear of hacking attacks and illegal activities (such as pedophile groups or murderers-for-hire) there are some forensic experts looking for "suspect online behavior" and watching the deep web constantly... and just by using a VPN shield you are not in fact protected and can be tracked - it's more difficult, but some people can do it. One thing that we learn after some time using the deep web is that you are never safe and people (and government) can be really nasty!

    • Raceme profile image

      Raceme 2 years ago

      I'm glad to read an article about the Darknet written by someone who's actually been there; most articles I read about it are usually myths and falsities perpetuated by those looking for views.

      This article is a veritable wealth of information; thanks a ton for writing it!

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 2 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Very interesting article. There will always be seedy goings on so why should the net be any different.

    • profile image

      JimpuSqd. 2 years ago

      Interesting stuff..heard about but always felt that my ciding chops were not sharp enough thnx for clarifying some things..do I need any specific system specs??

    • amazaving profile image

      Amazaving 2 years ago

      Good informative hub, but no thanks. The normal net will do for me!

    • TTGReviews profile image

      TTGReviews 2 years ago

      This is a very interesting topic. I would be interested to learn more about it in the future, but I don't know if I would personally use it.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 24 months ago from Sunny Spain

      A very interesting and informative hub about something that until recently I didn't know existed. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us :D

      Voting up and hitting relevant buttons on my way out

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 24 months ago from Birmingham, England

      Thank you!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 24 months ago from Sunny Spain

      No, thank you for enlightening me :D

    • mcrawford76 profile image

      Matthew I Crawford 24 months ago from Greeley, Colorado

      very interesting and informative hub. Definitely never realized that there was an "underworld" on the internet, though now that I've read this article it makes perfect sense. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Stargrrl 24 months ago

      Interesting article. I think I'll stay on the bright side net.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image

      Cynthia Hoover 24 months ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Voted up. For a "newblette" you explain things very well for others to be able to follow you to the "Darknet". I am glad that you caution others as to the unsavory elements and to procede with caution. I will be following, great work!

    • Terry Slaton Jr profile image

      Terry Slaton Jr 23 months ago from North Richland Hills, Texas

      Thank you, I found this article to very interesting and informative. Like some others I have heard things about the dark net but had no real knowledge of it. Your article has pulled back the covers and given a nice introductory overview. This will allow me to be able make an educated decision to look into the underbelly or not.

    • profile image

      Rotax20 23 months ago

      Thank you for taking your personal time to explain about Dark net and had no idea how to follow thru.

      Very much appreciated and this just whet my appetite for more knowledge.

    • strategylab profile image

      Jeph Maystruck 23 months ago from Regina, SK

      This was such a cool article on he Darknet, amazing! I never knew a lot of it, and it doesn't surprise me to know people are buying passports drugs but hacked Paypal accounts didn't make sense but I guess they're open to many varieties of hacks.

      Pretty crazy place if you ask me, one day I'll venture over to the dark side!

    • profile image

      Anonymous 23 months ago

      The biggest problem I have is loading that directory to TOR. I have always wanted to explore the darknet, butI never really knew how. You're research is awesome and i have slowly started to understand what this darknet is all about, but i still don't know really how to work it. maybe i need to research some more

    • profile image

      Chuck 23 months ago

      Thank you for taking the time to put this together very well done.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 22 months ago from Birmingham, England

      If you ever have a problem with TOR directories - they do tend to disappear and reappear sometimes - just Google 'Hidden Wiki' and you will find a website with lots of links to explore. It has a lot of 'mirrors' (copies of the site) so you will always be able to find at least one hidden wiki site that is working.

    • profile image

      Tommy 22 months ago

      Very interesting ,somewhat intrigued to browse ,but too worried of being hacked ,or being put on a no fly list ,worst ,being on the watch list,,,,Thx ,,Very informative and so interesting ,most likely ,read more on this dark topic

    • profile image

      Martin 22 months ago

      I need help to enter darknet,so please some kind soul can U give mee a few minutes of time to get in to IT. "Fire71".

    • profile image

      wannagotherelol 22 months ago

      Can I access darknet from my mobile & stay anonymous

    • profile image

      Veritas 22 months ago

      If your not using a VPI or Tor, when you go onto certain websites. Be sure to say hi to the FBI

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      CM 21 months ago

      Great article, nicely explained without the usual FUD. Yes, it you can find some scary stuff, you can also find some very thought provoking stuff. If you do happen to land on a site that you find morally corrupt (illegal, pornographic or both) don't hang around there! Close your browser or navigate away.

    • Wissam LM profile image

      TOXIGON 21 months ago from Everywhere

      Thanks for great article.

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      bb 21 months ago

      thank you very much

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      A-713 21 months ago

      Anyone had negative experiences upon entering darknet? or is that something that would occur only after visiting specific links? just want to be cautious stepping into the darknet for the first time. any and all feed back appreciated!

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      Akumawraith 21 months ago

      I have known about the darknet for years, though I didn't frequent it often that changed in 2008 when Things changed radically, from the television screenwriters strike, to Blizzard selling out to Vivendi and then the biggest crime of all... Obama got elected President... 2008 was a really crappy year and ever since i pop in just to get away from the trolls, kids, and just plain old A-holes.

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      thatoldchick 21 months ago

      Good article. The deep and darkwebs are not all that is out there. Back in the day, one could only access sites if you knew the IP addy, and many of those old sites remain. Usenet and IRC as well as binary-only sites were part of this loose collective, and still exist for those who look. Like you said, many are just sites of general interest or expression, not criminal enterprises. In a totally free world, one must look out for their own safety, as there are no helpful warning stickers there.

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      GameNut 20 months ago

      Don't be afraid to experience the darknet. It's not as scary as it is odd due to the weirdos you will meet. Nazi's are alive and well living in the shadows. Racists, sexists, and the self-righteous paranoids all live together in someone's grandmother's basement. Frustrating, since I'm used to streaming, I only go there for a little shock therapy when all else fails to entertain. My introduction came when accessing science libraries then took a wrong turn along the way.

      What you must remember are some of the rules:

      1. Don't give out any of your details,

      2. Don't look up and don't hook up,

      3. Don't buy anything, and

      4. The most interesting sites are stings.

      Use caution cowboys!

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      atomiclights 20 months ago

      "I found it very strange that one of the main themes of the writing I saw was 'freedom of information'. The idea that information should be free and available to all seems to be very dear to the netizens of the dark Web, as does the idea that governments and big business are threatening this. I found this very strange coming from a group of people for whom hiding and encrypting their own information seems to be such a major obsession. I also found it common for websites to have one section preaching high ideals and filled with moralistic exhortations, and then another filled with links to criminal enterprises. The publishers of these websites seemed either unaware of or unwilling to confront these strange contradictions."

      Okay, gotta say something here. Speaking from an anarchist's pov to help offer some clarity on why this is not contradictory. I believe that information should be free, but recognize that the state does not (always). Libertarians and anarchists oppose the state to varying degrees. I fear and oppose the state and have an interest in the Darknet as a way to circumvent tracking of my online activities. The Darknet offers protection for people who are awake and realize they have everything to lose to the state and need to protect themselves. I have an interest in hiding my information/protecting myself from the state, not necessarily other individuals who don't want to harm me/abide by the non-aggression principle (the state is by definition a violent institution).

      Regarding the author's perceived contradiction between Darknet users' "moralistic exhortations" and "criminal enterprises" - consider this from the pov of someone who opposes the state. What society considers criminal enterprises are largely only thought of as so because the state outlaws something (drugs, for instance), deems any activity in that field/industry to be criminal, and conditions citizens over years to believe the same. An industry or activity that exists outside of the state can definitely still be moral - the state and its laws/activities do not equal or set a bar for morality.

      Just wanted to point out a different pov to give provide understanding on what may seem like contradictions to some. Thank you for the article - lots of great information and I have shared it with others who are interested.

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      Madge 20 months ago

      Ok... All this info is very interesting - but, I do not want to see any kind of porn that is not allowed to be shared in normal websites, I do not want to by drugs, weapons, people, human organs, hackers, hookers or practice anything that is illegal at all... so what would I do on the deep web?

    • Alessio Ganci profile image

      Alessio Ganci 19 months ago from Italy

      On the deep web there are also lots of legal sites, that for some reasons want to remain anonymous... well I think nothing you cannot already find on the normal web, but one can always go surfing the deep web by curiosity. At the end, everyone says that the deep web is much bigger than the "known web", so probably a lot of people are fascinated by this fact, and are more and more curious to take a look at the deep web. As one simply surfs the deep web without watching pedopornography, buying illegal things and doing other illegal things, he can satisfy his curiosity... however yes, I agree to the fact that we shoud not do anything of particular on the deep we: if someone is curious, after he has satisfied his curiosity, I think he can forget about the deep web and not go there anymore!

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      Bill Shickler 18 months ago

      tHE REASON THAT THE PEOPLE USING dARKNETS ARE SO PRO public INFORMATION, IS THAT THEY (MYSELF INCLUDED), ARE BEING HARRASSED, ATTEMPTED INTIMADATED, POLITICALLY DEMONIZED(LIKE Planned parenthood, ACORN, etc.). So, we have to move our truth to somewhere where it can't be blocked, manipulated, altered, tracked and used in a censored-edited version that might be used in secret-no evidence allowed to-be-seen trials, ala Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistle-Blower. In fact, whistle blowers should be the main recipients of this gift. Their safety and effectiveness would blossom with TOR. Just realize, the SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAD SECTIONS OF IT'S OWN FILES DELETED BY THE CIA-THEY AREBEING SURVEILLED BY OUR OWN GOVERNMENT!!! THANK YOU DIANE FEINSTEIN!!

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      Maya 17 months ago

      I'm so going to the darknet.

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      desmond stephan rolle 17 months ago

      Im so going to the dark net

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      Liamm 17 months ago

      Im intreaged but leary.im sure i will be checking it soon.i used hushmail for years,& lòved it.

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      Wouter 16 months ago

      Dude you are John Malkovich!!!

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      WIZARD 16 months ago

      I have visited it several times and it is really amazingly. If you want , just join us.

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 15 months ago

      I got into the Dark Web to avoid the scams, the spam, the gmail man, and tracking. If I am doing a search, I'm using Tor. Paying a bill, using Tor.

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      drug lord 15 months ago

      its real good to buy guns and drugs on and really easy to sell kids on what more could you want ! :)

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 15 months ago

      drug lord, I think that point is a side issue. I think not wanting to have everything you post subject to scrutiny by advertisers is the reality

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      15 months ago

      Very good tutorial for people who want to go to deep web really helped me and the link of that tutorial is: http://null-byte.wonderhowto.com/how-to/access-dee... and I promise you it will also really help you too.

    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 15 months ago from Austin, Texas

      Haven't even learned how to harness the power of the Internet and there's a Darknet? It figures. I'm still using a donkey for transportation while everybody else is using a teleporter. :)

    • MicahI profile image

      Micah 15 months ago from Central Florida

      Great information! I've known about the Darknet for awhile, but I've never taken the time to visit. Now I know I'm not missing much!

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      Bazel 15 months ago

      Wasn't this created before we ever got the corporate websites ie: google/bing slash everything else. The internet was designed for solely communication purposes in the first place and then a bigger corporate conglomerate stepped in and basically stole the idea and now your all sheep. Have a look around and TOR the experience.

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      Vladrasputin 14 months ago

      I'm looking to find a documentary that is suddenly unavailable due to its expose , would the darknet be a good place to try and find it ?

    • Emma Johnson1 profile image

      Emma Johnson 13 months ago from Denver, Colorado

      Wow, great information!

    • Patkay profile image

      Patrick Kamau 13 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Well, I have learnt something new here, I have to admit. But I am not sure if I am ready to explore the Dark Net, perhaps I would prefer to explore deep space. Thanks for sharing.

    • PoggyDobby profile image

      PoggyDobby 13 months ago from Probably Earth

      Wow. That's fantastic. It's quite sad that I've never heard of it. Until now, thanks to you. A certainly interesting, mind-blowing Hub. I'll definitely go and explore the Darknet, because my curiosity overpowers fear of doing something wrong. Of course, I'll take some safe precautions to avoid any unfortunate consequences. Thumbs up!

    • Rota profile image

      Rota 13 months ago

      A hitman site? Wow..haha. Cool article

    • Bob Schroeder profile image

      Bob Schroeder 10 months ago

      Interesting stuff, kind of scarey. Thanks for the info.

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 10 months ago

      It is 'scary' in one way, sort of like a back street at night. But it has its benefits. All give you an example.

      I think my neighbour's daughter is autistic. I do a google. I get a number of sites. I do a little reading, (I'm not doing a thesis, I just think maybe I saw the 'symptoms?' 'signs?') and that is IT.

      However, every single site I go to, from facebook to cracked is showing me advertisements for Autism.

      Why?

      Google SELLS searches. It sells searches to those who sell products...Autism Speaks...PAYS Google to give it a list of all those who search for Autism so that they can contact the user.

      If you did the search using the Dark Web...i.e. Tors...you wouldn't see those Ads. In fact, you see very few ads...because those who post ads can't find out where you live...so as to pin point.

      For example, I'm in Jamaica...so ads, i.e. the banner on this site, is telling me about a Sale at a local store. You are seeing about something in your neighbourhood.

    • Arun1177kumar profile image

      Arun Kumar 10 months ago from Delhi

      I have listened about Darknet the first time. Interesting stuff.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 9 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting. Was always fascinated by what lies on the other side sort of!

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      Cristin 9 months ago

      I was wondering can you acess darknet from a phone ?

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      Nikki 8 months ago

      Ouff..my head spinning. What a great reading, I am going for sure by curiosity ..I went as far as Tor...so far..Thanks.

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      marewa 8 months ago

      i like comes to the dark net

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      Danny 8 months ago

      I'm only interested in it to smash paedophile rings but having read your article it seems a bit of a gamble without police authority

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      MaxS 7 months ago

      Good read. Being a conspiracy buff, I'm thinking of taking he plunge and see what's there.

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      RCU 7 months ago

      Wow! I've wondered about all of the info that you've just covered in depth for many a moon. You have made it very easy to get on and carefully snoop around (curiosity did kill that darn cat!). I can't wait to get home and launch. Thanks

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      mr,M 7 months ago

      i've heard about this topic before not not precised..but now i do

      now i've got games to paly with!

      thank you

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      saleem 7 months ago

      the darknet is a bad place to go im telling you to not not not to go there it creepy scary and bad dont go to the darknet

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      Pratyush 6 months ago

      Is darknet or tor free? Or do u have to pay for it?

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      Jack Smith 6 months ago

      http://armoryx7kvdq3jds.onion

      this is a scam site selling guns. please beware of it.

      they never send anything and gets away with your bitcoin if you buy anything and on following mail try to blackmail you for another few bitcoins......truly ridiculous.

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      janet 5 months ago

      A very good and informative piece, thank you

    • profile image

      nicky bella 5 months ago

      get the best VPN service https://www.hidemyass.com/vpn/r22646/

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      blanco 4 months ago

      hi there,

      am interested in getting into the dark net. I have downloaded the Tor browser but don't know how to proceed

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      Juan Mendoza 4 months ago

      Absolutely smashing article! Best guide to the darknet and to privacy protection on the internet, thanks!

    • profile image

      Lilly 3 months ago

      A poll to know what kind of activities people plan with Darknet would be interesting to see!

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      Bruno 3 months ago

      I'm very curious and excited what the darknet is all about even though I am sceptical about what it can provide for me as an everyday regular internet user.I have to adimit that its exhilirating to finally know about the darknet.....I am just glad I will be exposed to a world of a whole new information and facts that surround my life.The one thing I'm most looking forward to is the people who are using the darknet even though it might not be such a good idea concerning the matter of privacy but it would be rather helpful know what information does the world have to provide.One thing I can say is that I am scared of what might happen if I'm not careful but that emotion alone will guide me to be a safe and regular user of the darknet.........I'm sorry if I am being too redundent and for a Malapropism typer...tumbs up for information provided by the darknet

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