Last updated: April 13, 2023
For 90% of internet people it's Facebook, Youtube, Google or Bing, but there is also all the data that all users cannot access, which some call the deep web or hidden web. Darknet is something else again.
Darknet is a collection of pages not indexed by major search engines. Which means you're not going to be able to find them through Google or Bing. You also cannot access them with a web browser like Chrome since their addresses end in .onion.
We can describe the Darknet as a subset of the Internet that allows for anonymous communication and exchange. It can only be accessed by special software. Tor is the best known of them.
More generally, the Darknet can be used to describe all types of non-commercial sites on the Internet, or to refer to all “underground” web technologies and communications, more commonly associated with illegal activity.
1) What do we find in the darknet?
What strikes first is the amount of illegal content. There is about a third of porn (including a good deal of child pornography and other shady stuff), another third of illegal content (drug culture, negationism, bank card number, how to make a small explosive device, etc.) and a final third of unclassifiable sites.
In this category, there are sites against animal exploitation with fur farm locations, sites where you can download prohibited books (from Mein Kampf to books for successful suicide) or sites to order a forged fake passport for a few hundred euros.
On the darknet, from day one, we were able to find a gruesome site that gives you the option to order a murder, a beating or a bomb planting.
Prices are variable depending on the target. So know that it will cost you $ 45000 to have your neighbor shot or $ 18000 to disfigure your ex.
No one can deny that many of these sites are arguably made for scams, hoaxes, or just plain traps designed to catch people who buy illegal products.
However, wondering how these criminal sites could work, we discovered the concept of escrow. These are intermediaries between buyer/seller or sponsor/executor. Transactions are paid in bitcoin and those who offer a service are only paid by the escrow when the requester gives the green light. Of course most of the time the intermediary takes a small piece of the pie.
2) The good side
After seeing all the worst the darknet had to offer, we set out to find the best they had to offer. We found for example blogs on freedom of expression or on the promoting crypto. We also discovered photos of the situation in Ukraine, documents on the Syrian regime or the war in Afghanistan, blogs against the Chinese regime, etc.
3) How to access the darknet?
3.1) Download TOR web browser
To access the Darknet, start with download and install Tor software.
Tor Browser is actually a special web browser that natively integrates the Tor protocol. It allows you to access these hidden pages. The Tor protocol passes traffic through several layers in such a way that it is no longer possible, at the exit, to determine its origin. In other words, once you have passed through the Darknet gates, your IP address can no longer be identified.
3.2) Find a list of sites that work
After installing the Tor Browser, just search for a few useful addresses with a .onion extension. You need to know the addresses you want to connect to. They are not the silkroad.onion type, that would be too easy. So you need to find a directory.
For example, here is a kind of Wikipedia (hidden wiki) with sites classified according to their categories: zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
And if you want to access the Darknet with your Android smartphone then take a look at this article: how to access the Darknet with your Android phone?
4) List of sites to explore the Darknet
To explore this part of the invisible web, you need to have a list of valid sites. Indeed, it is not as easy as on Google, it is very difficult to go there blind. But don't worry, we'll share with you the list of addresses we used to discover the Darknet.
This list is pretty well done. Just copy a link you're interested in and paste it into Tor's address bar.
- Torch search engine : http://xmh57jrzrnw6insl.onion/
- Hidden Wiki: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
- Links directory : http://torlinkbgs6aabns.onion
- Facebook for Tor: https://facebookcorewwwi.onion
- Darknet search engine: http://grams7enufi7jmdl.onion
- DuckDuckGo search engine: http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion
5) Other darknet software
In this article, we only talked about the Tor Browser because it brings together very large communities. The others are much more confidential. Be aware, however, that there are other different darknet software. The main ones are:
- I2P : an anonymous network that looks more like Tor than other darknet software. It allows access to hidden sites (the equivalent eepSites of Tor's hidden services) and to connect anonymously. It also allows the exchange of files, torrent download being anonymous, blogging and anonymous messaging.
- freenet : it uses a fully decentralized and encrypted network where all users remain anonymous. It allows documents (web pages, PDFs, images, videos, etc.) to be published anonymously and resistant to censorship.
- GNUnet : it is an encrypted and therefore anonymous P2P network proposed by the GNU project. It is mainly used for file sharing. It is resistant to censorship.
6) Is accessing the darknet legal?
You should know that the use of TOR is completely legal, which is illegal, it is only what one does there, as for the software of sharing in peer to peer.
TOR allows journalists to express themselves freely on the darknet and protect their privacy. It also allows you to bypass the blocking of certain sites. Nevertheless, it was quickly diverted from its primary objective and became the medium for many illegal activities such as child pornography, trafficking in drugs, weapons or counterfeits via black market sites.