Last updated: October 23, 2022
Originally launched by the US Navy in 2002 to protect US government communications, Tor has since largely dominated the world of networks darknet.
It is a computer network which allows anonymous surfing thanks to multi-layered encryption.
The project is based on two strong principles:
- Everyone should be browsing the internet confidentially.
- Every internet user should be assured that their personal data will be protected.
Tor Browser, the gateway to the darknet
The main gateway to the Darknet is the Tor browser. This is an anonymized version of Firefox made compatible with browsing the darknet.
The easiest way to browse darkweb pages is to download and install the Tor browser.
Tor URLs end with the .onion suffix. Unlike public websites, URLs are generally complex and difficult to remember, and websites frequently change their URLs.
With Tor, we find many black markets (drugs, fake tickets, fake paper, firearms), but also sites of political and ecological activism, technical resources, 3D printing plans, etc.
What are .Onion addresses?
The first time you use Tor Browser, you have the impression that you are using an absolutely normal browser, with a little darker graphics.
You access your Internet and your usual services without limitation. But only Tor Browser allows you to access a second Internet, that of .Onion addresses. It is the famous darknet. These addresses do not work outside of Tor.
These onion services allow people to browse and also publish anonymously.
The big problem with URLs for .onion sites is that they are made up of a long series of randomly chosen numbers and letters!
For example, the onion address of the DuckDuckGo search engine on Tor is: https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion
Install and configure Tor Browser
Go to the website Torproject.org, click on "Download Tor Browser " then Choose your platform (Windows) and click on Download. Nothing's easier !
Once recovered on your PC, start the installation. At the end of it, simply launch your Tor browser by clicking on Close.
When opening for the first time, we advise you to go through configurator. Before connecting, a new window will offer you touse "bridges".
The option obfs4 is the generic bridge that will connect your machine to a relay before Tor connects to the Internet.
interest: Even your ISP will not know that you are using the Tor protocol. This way you avoid feeling like you are a potential suspect.
Attention: these bridges are not all-risk guarantees, there is a real hunt for these relays to identify them.
If you see Welcome to Tor Browser, here you are connected. You have access to all the traditional web, but also to the darknet network in .onion.
Define your level of security
Depending on your use of Tor, you will push its protection logic to a higher or lower level.
The Normal level : allow you to use Tor as a classic browser while benefiting from the anonymization of its network / protocol.
The Safer level: is the level sufficient to ban major sources of tracking and malicious scripts that may compromise your anonymity and privacy.
The safest level: This level only allows website functions that are required for static sites and basic services. These changes affect images, media and scripts.
Darkweb addresses to know
.Onion addresses appear and disappear regularly, drop or change addresses without warning! This site lists the still valid and popular .onions. With a confidence index assigned by users. There are a lot of dark markets and therefore often illegal sources, but the search engine allows you to target any legitimate interest.
The natural referencing of .onion sites does not exist.
The bases of sites are most often found, classified; shared and indexed by hand by the users themselves or by services that have made it their business.
Here are 5 essential search engines:
- Ahamia.fi: msydqstlz2kzerdg.onion
- Candle: gjobqjj7wyczbqie.onion
- Not Evil: hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion
- Torch: cnkj6nippubgycuj.onion
- HayStack: haystakvxad7wbk5.onion
The bible for understanding everything, finding everything, is The Hidden Wiki, the largest and oldest wiki on Tor. Information, documentation, valid .onion links regularly updated, this is a must.
There are several Hidden Wiki, which appear and disappear regularly in the form of mirrors with more or less problematic content. The Hidden Wiki link: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Secure Drop is a .onion site intended to protect communications and document transfers between media whistleblowers. Many publishers offer their .onion service based on Secure Drop.
Secure Drop address on Tor: sdolvtfhatvsysc6l34d65ymdwxcujausv7k5jk4cy5ttzhjoi6fzvyd.onion
To have more .onion sites, I invite you to see this article: The 10 most visited .onion sites on the darknet.
Darknet and Darkweb, what are the differences?
We often confuse Darknet and DarkWeb. We find things on darknet, we surf the DarkWeb. But where is the difference?
In short, the DarkWeb is a set of encrypted information, while the Darknet is the computer network integrating anonymization functions which allows them to be transported.
For more details, check out this article: The difference between the Darknet, the Darkweb, and the Deepweb.
Do I need to use a VPN to access Tor?
VPN publishers are increasingly funding public releases and affiliate campaigns on specialized sites to promoteusing a VPN with TOR.
It would even be, according to these sites, essential to guarantee your anonymity. The reality is a little more complex.
A VPN to hide your TOR user identity
Remember that Tor Browser is not a VPN. When you connect to the internet or to the Tor network with this browser, all your usual information goes through your internet router (IP, user agent, etc.). It is only after logging in that you become anonymous.
The Tor protocol being identifiable, your ISP will therefore be able to identify you as a regular darknet user. This is not reprehensible in France, but it is not the case in all countries. What's more, for those who hate widespread suspicion of citizens, know that a Tor user is often suspect by default.
A VPN placed before Tor browser will allow you to completely disappear from speed cameras and become an average Internet user again.
In order to learn on the subject, I invite you to read this article: Is combining TOR and VPN a good idea?
Can I use TOR on a smartphone?
Yes, there is a Tor browser version offered specifically for Android: Tor Browser for Android.
Previously available as an APK, an official version is now available on the Play Store since last November after many months of development.
The Guardian project also provide theOrbot app, also available on the Play Store. Orbot is a free proxy that uses TOR to encrypt your traffic and hide it by bouncing it multiple times across different computers around the world.
Orbot can therefore be used to route other applications on your Android device over the Tor network. However, only the Tor Browser for Android is required to browse the web with Tor.
For more info on Orbot, check out this article: How to access the darknet with your Android phone?
There is the Onion browser for iOS, open source, which relies on Tor routing.
The Tor project specifies that its developer is close. However, Apple requires browsers on iOS to use a "Webkit" which does not allow the Onion browser to offer the same protection and privacy as the Tor browser for PC.
To learn how to access the darknet on your iPhone, watch this tutorial: Darknet for iPhone, how to access it?