Darkweb, TOR & Onions: Understand everything to get started

darkweb tor onion
darkweb tor onion

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 that allows you to surf anonymously thanks to multi-layer encryption.

The project is based on two strong principles:

  • Everyone should be browsing the internet confidentially.
  • Every Internet user should have the assurance 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 a version of Firefox anonymized and made compatible with browsing on 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 numerous black markets (drugs, counterfeit bills, counterfeit papers, firearms), but also sites for 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 of using an absolutely normal browser, with slightly 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 .onion site URLs is that they are made up of a long string 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

Equipment installation

Go to the website Torproject.org, click on " Download Tor Browser » then Choose your platform (Windows) and click 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.

Configuration

When opening for the first time, we advise you to go through Configurator. Before connecting, a new window will offer youuse “ 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 a potential suspect.

Attention: these bridges are not all-risk guarantees, there is a real hunt for these relays to identify them.

Anonymous surfer

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 how you use Tor, you will push its protection logic to a higher or lower level.

To increase the security level of Tor browser, go to Menu then click Options Then on Privacy et Safety  And click Safety, you will be able to choose between three preconfigured levels.

You have been warned!, the more you secure Tor, the more you disable functions and modules allowing smooth Internet browsing, the availability of certain services as well as the display of certain content.

The Normal level : allow you to use Tor like 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.live

.onion addresses appear and disappear regularly, drop or change addresses without warning! This site lists the still valid and popular .onions. With a trust rating assigned by users. There are many dark markets and therefore often illegal sources, but the search engine allows you to target any legitimate center of interest.

Search engine

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

Wiki

The bible to understand everything, find 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

For journalists

SecureDrop 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 financing advertorials and affiliate campaigns on specialized sites to promote theusing 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

First of all, let's remember that Tor Browser is not a VPN. When you connect to the internet or the Tor network with this browser, all your usual information goes through your internet router (IP, user agent, etc.). Only once logged in do you become anonymous.

The Tor protocol being identifiable, your ISP will therefore be able to identify you as a regular user of the darknet. Which is nothing reprehensible in France, but this is not the case in all countries. What's more, for those who abhor widespread suspicion of citizens, know that a Tor user is often suspicious 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?

Public chat Android

Yes, there is a Tor browser version offered specifically for Android: Tor Browser for Android.

Previously available as an APK, an official version has now been available on the Play Store since last November after many months of development.

The Guardian Project also provides 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 to your device Android on 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 phone Android ?

On iPhone

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 that, on iOS, browsers 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?