For 90% of people, the Internet comes down to Facebook, YouTube, Google or Bing. However, there is a wealth of data that not all users have access to, such as databases, FTP, corporate networks, etc. Some refer to this part as the Deep Web or the Hidden Web. Darknet, meanwhile, is another dimension.
darknet consists of unindexed pages, which means that they are not accessible via traditional search engines. You also cannot access them with a classic web browser, such as Chrome, because these pages have an .onion extension.
We can consider the Darknet as a part of the Internet that offers the possibility of communicating and exchanging anonymously. Access to this network is through specific software, Tor being the most famous of them.
According to a recent estimate, the Darknet contains more than 600 terabytes of data.
What's in the Darknet?
What strikes first is the amount of illegal content. First, a third of the content is purely erotic. Then, another third reveals gray areas: drugs, negationism, stolen information, even instructions for explosives. But the weirdness doesn't stop there.
The last third is a maze. Some sites there denounce animal exploitation, exposing secret fur farms. Even more disturbing, others lure us in with taboo books, from Mein Kampf to grim guides to suicide.
In the darknet, from day one, I was able to find a terrible site that gives you the opportunity to order a murder, a beating or the planting of a bomb.
Prices vary depending on the target. Know that it will cost you $45000 to have your neighbor shot or $18000 to disfigure your ex.
On this site, for example, you can hire the services of a hacker for find out your ex's facebook password. Or for 200 euros, you can paralyze your competitor's site or pass it off as pedophilia in the eyes of the police.
It should not be ignored that many of these sites are most likely designed for scams, hoaxes or just plain traps to apprehend people who are buying 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.
The good side of the Darknet
After seeing all the worst the Darknet had to offer, I set out to find the best they had to offer. I found for example free speech blogs or on the promotion of cryptography, photos of the situation in Ukraine, documents on the Syrian regime or on the war in Afghanistan, blogs against the Chinese regime, etc.
How to access the Darknet?
Download the Tor web browser
To access the Darknet, start with download and install Tor software.
The Tor browser is 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 so that it is no longer possible, at the exit, to determine its origin. In other words, once you enter the Darknet, your IP address can no longer be identified.
To learn how to install Tor on your machine, we invite you to see this tutorial: what is TOR and how to use it properly?
Find a list of sites that work
After installing the Tor Browser, all you need to do is search for some 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 smartphone Android, see this article: how to access the Darknet with your phone Android ?
List of sites to explore the Darknet
To explore this part of the invisible web, it is essential to have a list of valid sites. Indeed, it is not as easy as on Google to navigate there blindly. But don't worry, we'll share with you the list of addresses we used to discover the Darknet. This list is well constructed.
Simply copy a link that interests you 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://facebookcorewwi.onion
- Darknet search engine: http://grams7enufi7jmdl.onion
- DuckDuckGo search engine: http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion
Other Darknet Software
In this article, we mainly discussed the Tor Browser because of its large user community. However, there are other Darknet software that offer unique features and are worth mentioning.
Here are the main ones:
- I2P : An anonymous network that bears similarities to Tor, but with its own distinctive characteristics. I2P allows access to hidden sites called eepSites (equivalent to Tor's hidden services) and offers features such as anonymous messaging, file sharing and download torrents anonymously.
- freenet : A fully decentralized and encrypted network, guaranteeing the anonymity of all users. Freenet allows documents to be published anonymously and censorship-resistant. It also promotes anonymous file sharing.
- GNUnet : An encrypted and anonymous P2P network developed by the GNU project. GNUnet is primarily used for file sharing and offers censorship resistance.
Is accessing the Darknet legal?
You should know that the use of the Tor network remains completely legal. However, some activities performed on this network may become illegal, such as actions performed on peer-to-peer sharing software.
Otherwise, journalists use Tor to express themselves freely on the Darknet and to protect their privacy. This network also offers the opportunity to circumvent the blockings of certain sites. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that many people have diverted Tor from its primary mission, using it as a platform for illegal activities, including the trafficking of drugs, weapons or counterfeits via black markets.
Yes, Darknet software can be used for good or for evil. This reality applies to any communications technology, and we don't think the technology itself should be blamed.
In our opinion, the darknet is not just an obscure network for illegal activities, such as cybercrime or copyright infringement. Although it can serve as a tool for such activities, it is not limited to that. It is crucial to understand this. Indeed, the Darknet is a network that promotes freedom of expression and opposes surveillance and censorship imposed by the powerful.