The Dark Web is one of the most commonly heard stories phrases in the web world and is referred to as the place where most online illegal activities take place.
Speaking of the Dark Web, many associate it with myths such as it being a place that it is unethical and illegal, which is true only in some cases.
Most countries allow citizens to use the dark web but warn about the risks of doing so.
What are Dark Websites?
Dark websites are part of the dark web, which is a subdivision of the deep web which can’t be accessed using search engines or browsers that we use on the surface web.
To access dark websites, the user requires access authorization and specific software along with network modifications.
Many people assume that the dark web is enormous, but in reality, it occupies a very small portion of the internet and is extremely hard to navigate.
The reason the dark web is hard to navigate is that there are no dedicated domain names for dark websites.
Every dark website names are a combination of random characters and can be opened only with the help of specific search engines such as DuckDuckGo.
Deep Web Vs. Dark Web
One of the most confusing terms in web technology is the deep web and the dark web.
For beginners, the web is comprised of three layers featuring surface, deep and dark.
The surface web is the one we use every day and is available to the general public.
In addition, every possible standard web search engine supports websites associated with the surface web.
When it comes to the deep web, it can be described as an invisible web in simple words, as the contents associated with it cannot be accessed and indexed by standard web search-engine programs.
For instance, personal mail, cloud photos, DMs, and more private stuff. On the other hand, the dark web is configured on the dark net.
Hence it cannot be accessed except by using special software and network techniques.
Considering the dark web is home to most of the illegal activities on the internet, one must be aware that it is a very sensitive place to reveal identity.
Is the Dark Web Legal?
The Dark Web is legal to use in itself, and it completely depends on what purpose you’re using it for and the country you’re living in.
For instance, some countries strictly adhere to a no-dark web policy.
Even if you’re not carrying out illegal activities, you’re still liable to large fines and warnings, including imprisonment just for visiting.
Serious crimes such as drug selling, weapons dealing, trafficking, hacking, underage pornography, etc., are part of the dark web and these activities are growing day by day.
Apart from these downsides, the Dark Web is a great place to be anonymous and express yourself freely.
If good security measures are taken, you’re completely free of stalkers and can make use of many good features available on the Dark Web by using dark websites in the right way.
Risks Involved with the Dark Web
There are a wide range of risks involved with visiting the Dark Web as it is a home for many cyber crimes.
If you’re an individual, keep an eye on your identity and personal details.
On the Dark Web, privacy is always at stake, as the details of credit cards, passwords to social accounts, online profiles impersonating others, and many more stolen personal things of others can be easily purchased.
In addition, one can get their hands on fake and forged passports and also launch DDoS attacks on unprotected websites.
Coming to Dark Web marketplaces, they are a one stop destination for serious crimes, so even if you’re purchasing legal goods, make sure to always use a cryptocurrency and cross-check if there is a possibility for phishing.
There is a great chance of getting distracted while you’re on the Dark Web, and letting your guard down, as cybercriminal training is available everywhere.
You must be aware of your actions on the Dark Web.
How to Get on the Dark Web Safely?
The Dark Web is extremely vulnerable to cyber crimes, and one must take the security measures to avoid negative outcomes.
If you’re not aware, the chances of your device being infected by viruses, malware, and trojans are very high.
In addition, you could become a possible victim of spyware.
Get Yourself the Best VPN
To avoid such situations, the first thing a Dark Web user needs to do is start using a VPN, which helps with providing necessary security and safety.
VPNs are a must when you’re visiting the Dark Web as they are loaded with security features designed specifically to face dangerous situations on the internet.
Change your Operating System (Optional)
The most commonly used Windows and Mac operating systems are secure and capable of surfing the Dark Web, but they aren’t specifically designed for such purposes.
Prominent operating systems such as Tails and Whonix are based on Linux distributions and are specifically designed to use the Dark Web.
If you’re willing to take an extra step at being careful on the Dark Web, these OS are a great way to be anonymous with great privacy features.
Use “The Onion Router” – TOR & Private Search Engines
The TOR browser is very strongly associated with the Dark Web, as it is the most commonly used browser for surfing.
With the help of TOR, one can visit all the hidden and un-indexed websites on the internet.
The best part of TOR is that it erases all your activity every session and encrypts all your traffic.
In addition, the user needs to use private search engines for enhanced protection on the dark web, which TOR covers with DuckDuckGo as the default search engine.
It’s worth noting that you can get a VPN for Tor browser.
Use Dark Web Monitoring Tools
Dark Web Monitoring tools such as CrowdStrike Falcon Intelligence Recon are a must if you’re using the Dark Web.
It provides you with services that involve searching the Dark Web for your personal information and reports to you if they are being traded or sold.
In addition, it always warns you about sources that are trying to steal your information.
Best Dark Websites 2023
Even though the Dark Web is filled with many serious cybercrimes and illegal activities, there is a good part of it.
Here are some of the best dark websites that are very useful if used ethically.
- Mail2Tor – 🏆 Winner!
- Hidden Wiki
- Dig Deeper
- Soylent News
- Hidden Answers
- Onion Name
Many generic web-based email services, such as Gmail, Outlook, etc., aren’t very secure, as the contents can be accessed by the providers.
For instance, Gmail is a great email service, but it analyses your messages and activity to send relevant promotional emails and advertisements and auto-updates your calendar.
To avoid such privacy concerns, Mail2Tor is a great free-anonymous email service designed specifically to protect privacy.
The user can anonymously send and receive emails via webmail, and there is no data collected or analyzed.
2. Hidden Wiki
As the name suggests, the Hidden Wiki is a directory of sites that provides information about active .onion sites.
The sites listed on the websites are both legal and illegal, so it is up to you to decide which dark website you’re visiting.
3. Dig Deeper
Dig Deeper is intended and developed for people who want to use the dark web ethically.
The website provides you with a list of topics with associated articles for each, which helps the users to surf safely on the dark web by providing information about the safest browsers and email providers.
ProPublica is an online publication with a .onion address that aims to expose all the wrongdoings done by the Government, Businesses, and other prominent institutions with the help of investigative journalism.
All content is provided with evidence, so you can be aware of what is happening in reality.
5. Soylent News
Soylent News is an open-source and community-oriented news aggregator where users can share their thoughts across the world anonymously and engage in many insightful conversations.
Unbiased media content and inaccurate information can be realized through Soylent News.
Keybase is an anonymous dark web social media platform which is a great alternative to most of the standard ones as there is no data being collected, tracked, or shared.
On Keybase, all the chats are held private with public-key cryptography, and the personal information is kept safe with end-to-end encryption.
As the name suggests, Hidden Answers is a great source to ask or answer questions completely anonymously.
As there is outstanding privacy, one can ask questions without any worries about being judged or tracked.
Most scientific knowledge and information is unavailable to most people.
To overcome this issue, Alexandra Elbakyan founded Sci-Hub, where more than 50 million research papers are made available to everyone for free.
SmartMixer.io is a website developed to hide the identity of individuals from third parties while purchasing cryptocurrency online.
In simple words, SmartMixer.io is a cryptocurrency tumbler designed specifically for Dark Web users.
10. Onion Name
The Onion Name is a domain name selling website on the Dark Web, where the users can purchase the domain name for the .onion website.
The domain name and the URL can be purchased using cryptocurrency, and no data is collected or tracked.
Best VPN to Visit Dark Websites 2023
There are many VPNs out there available on the internet, but not everything is capable of performing well on the dark web.
Usually, browsing on the TOR reduces the bandwidth, and when combined with the VPN, it might end up having a very slow surfing experience.
In addition, cybercrimes associated with the Dark Web are riskier and generally nastier than the ones associated with the surface web.
Hence a VPN must be efficient to handle the risks of the Dark Web and provide a great surfing experience.
Considering these key factors in mind, we have reviewed the three best VPNs, which are:
NordVPN is one of the most secure and reliable VPNs available on the internet to date.
NordVPN was developed considering all the potential dangers of the web. Hence it is quite efficient on the Dark Web too.
One of the main reasons behind choosing NordVPN is the “Threat Protection feature,” which is an extremely useful feature on the Dark Web as it protects the user from ads, trackers, and malware in real-time.
Considering the Dark Web is extremely risky, there is a great probability of the user becoming a victim.
To protect the user from facing such outcomes, NordVPN has included sophisticated high-end security features, which include a Dedicated IP, use of obfuscated servers, IP Masking, Kill Switches, and Double protection, providing you the utmost safety and security.
- NordVPN is the industry leader (by a long way)
- 30-day risk-free trial
- Superfast speeds
- 5,442+ servers in 60+ countries
- Strict no-logs policy
- Next-generation military-grade encryption
- DoubleVPN, double privacy
- 6 simultaneous device connections
- Great for: Safety, security, anonymity & peace of mind
- Compatible with: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad & iOS, Linux, routers, Apple TV, FireFox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and more
The mind-blowing part of NordVPN is the Dark Web Monitoring support, as the user can track if his/her data is being traded or sold on the Dark Web.
In addition, it also alerts if anyone is trying to steal or showing interest in the user’s data.
Coming to network speed, NordVPN never lets you down even when used together with the TOR browser, thanks to NordVPN’s 5200+ servers which are extremely stable and spread across the world.
The most important thing in this digital world is privacy, and the main reason behind using a VPN is to go anonymous.
As the user is interested in visiting the Dark Web, which is a sensitive matter, he/she wishes not to be tracked by any means.
NordVPN promises privacy with its strict no-logs policy, where no data is collected, tracked, or shared.
Its multiplatform support and simultaneous multi-device connectivity are great offers, as the user is completely covered.
When it comes to pricing, there are monthly and yearly package plans curated, keeping all customers in mind.
Next on our list, we have Surfshark; it is also one of the most advanced VPNs available today, with great security features and encryption standards.
Similar to NordVPN, Surfshark is designed to face cyber attacks and threats in the web world.
There is a dedicated feature in Surfshark, which is extremely useful in the dark web, which is “CleanWeb.”
CleanWeb also aims to keep users safe from cybercrimes such as trackers, malware, and phishing attempts in real time.
- Surfshark is the best budget VPN
- 30-day risk-free trial
- Strict no-logs policy
- 3200+ servers in 95 countries
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections
- Great for: private browsing on a budget
- Compatible with: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone & iOS, Linux, FireFox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and more
Surfshark VPN offers many impressive features which emphasize security and safety of the user.
Some of the best features of Surfshark VPN include advanced encryption, secure protocols, Kill Switch, Private DNS, and leak protection.
All of these features play a key role while surfing the dark web by protecting the user from vulnerabilities.
The most impressive part of Surfshark is the “Camouflage Mode,” which lets the user go anonymous on the web.
Even though TOR and private search engines focus on the same thing, it is good to be extra careful with protecting personal identity and privacy in risky places.
Speaking of network speed, Surfshark also comes with stable servers spread across the world.
Hence there are no slow surfing speeds when paired with the TOR browser.
In addition to these features, it is good to see that Surfshark also promises a strict no-logs policy.
As the user looks for complete privacy and wishes for no tracking or collecting of his/her activities, this feature is a great addition.
When it comes to pricing, all Surfshark plans are very affordable, and the best part is that it comes with multiplatform compatibility and no simultaneous device connectivity restrictions.
Hence users can use Surfshark on many devices at once.
3. Atlas VPN
Atlas VPN is a prominent VPN offering great security and safety to users.
Similar to NordVPN and Surfshark VPN, Atlas VPN is also efficient on the dark web.
Atlas VPN concentrates more on providing the best possible network speed, and there are no bandwidth limits.
In addition, it can also be used to bypass ISP throttling.
As a result, Atlas VPN can be paired together with TOR browser and surf the dark web without any issues, thanks to the 750+ high-speed stable VPN servers.
The most impressive part of the Atlas VPN is the superior web traffic encryption with a dedicated data breach monitor system, which comes in handy while surfing on the dark web as the user can be aware of data breaches and take measures instantly.
- Atlas VPN is the best free VPN
- Privacy Pro servers
- 750 servers in 40+ locations
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections
- Great for: people seeking a freemium VPN
- Compatible with: Windows, MacOS, Android, iPhone & iOS, Android TV, Fire TV Stick
In addition to these outstanding high-end security features, the network kill switch, MultiHop, IP change, and safe browse support are great additions that also focus on the user’s security and safety in the dark web.
Atlas VPN also promises a strict no-log policy which assured that no activity is being gathered or tracked, and the user can surf the dark web without any fear of privacy leaks.
Considering the features of Atlas VPN, they are well developed and are quite effective and efficient to handle the dangers of the dark web.
When it comes to pricing, the plans of Atlas VPN are flexible and affordable.
Similar to most VPNs, Atlas VPN also offers wide platform compatibility, and there are no restrictions on the number of simultaneous devices connected.
What Should You Seek in A VPN to Be Suitable for Surfing Dark Websites?
The most important things to look out for before selecting a VPN to visit dark websites are:
- The VPN must be capable of allowing the user to change IP address, so they can be anonymous on the dark web.
- When the VPN is paired with TOR browser, the bandwidth is reduced, and to overcome this, the VPN should have multiple stable servers.
- The VPN must have advanced security features that are quite efficient and effective to handle the dangers of the dark web.
- Should come up with a strict no-logs policy so that the user can surf the dark web without worrying about privacy leaks or personal data tracking.
- Must have support for simultaneous connections for at least 5 devices and wide platform compatibility support.
- Should feature affordable plans with great customer support available around the clock.
What Are Dark Web Marketplaces?
Dark web marketplaces are home to many illegal activities, which include selling drugs, weapons, stolen data, and many more sensitive things.
Accessing a marketplace is usually very hard, and even though you’re purchasing legal things, one must proceed with great caution.
Why Are .onion Websites Not Accessible on The Surface Web?
The .onion websites can be accessed only with the help of the browsers such as TOR, and the reason behind these websites not being accessible on the surface web is because they are not indexed by standard web search-engine programs.
Is It Considered a Crime While Surfing the Dark Web?
There are many myths associated with the dark web, and not least that it is often considered illegal.
If you’re just surfing on the dark web, in most countries, you’re not committing a crime.
But if you’re planning on performing illegal activities, there are chances of being tracked, and strict measures are taken by the respective government.
In Summary, the best VPNs in 2023 are;
|Rating||VPN Service||Get Offer|
|#1 Top Rated#1||NordVPN - #1 VPN in the industry||FREE Trial|
|#2 Top Rated#2||Surfshark - top budget VPN||Start Now|
|#3 Top Rated#3||Atlas VPN - best free VPN||Start Now|
VPNs are mandatory in this digital world as every level of the web is infused with dangers leading to negative outcomes.
Even though the best dark websites are accessed through TOR and special private search engines, it is always better to take every possible preventive measure as the dark web is completely unpredictable.
These VPNs might not protect you from every danger on the dark web, but features such as dark web monitoring, kill switch, IP change, data breach monitoring system, etc., will reduce the possibility of you becoming a victim.
Hence VPNs can be considered great preventive measures while surfing dark websites.