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How to Get on The Dark Web

How to Get on The Dark Web Safely in 2023 (4 Easy Steps)

Published on: July 3, 2023
Last Updated: July 3, 2023

How to Get on The Dark Web Safely in 2023 (4 Easy Steps)

Published on: July 3, 2023
Last Updated: July 3, 2023

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As someone who has never been on the dark web, you are likely to have developed a lot of unnerving theories about what happens there.

However, those who have been able to access it would appreciate the wide range of content it has to offer as well as its potential to serve as a beacon of anonymity and freedom.

It is also worth mentioning that accessing the dark web is not difficult at all, but doing so while upholding your safety can be a real challenge.

Since it is unregulated, you’ll find innumerable cybercriminals lurking around anywhere on the dark web. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize your online safety.

Before getting on the dark web, you need to arm yourself with the knowledge of how to get on the dark web safely. This post will help you with exactly that!

What is the Dark Web? A Comparison with Surface and Deep Web

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Many people are fascinated by the mysteriousness of the dark web, but very few know what it is.

So, before we plunge into any details, let us first try to understand what the dark web is.

The Internet has become an essential part of our lives. It is common for us to browse video clips, images, blogs, and websites daily.

You’ll be surprised to know, however, that the internet is much more than just that. It is essentially made up of two layers; the surface web and the deep web.

The content that is indexed and crawled by various search engines is what we refer to as the ‘clear’ or ‘surface’ web.

The web pages displayed to you as search results for your search engine entries are all a part of the surface web.

So, it is safe to say that even children can access this layer of the internet that we call the surface web. Although, as large as it may seem, it only accounts for 4% of the internet.

90% of the content on the Internet is comprised of web pages and websites that search engines have not indexed, for instance, payment portals and login pages.

This part is known as the ‘deep web.’

Any content that requires logins, passwords, authentication forms, or paywalls is considered to be part of the deep web.

Email, private social media accounts, online banking, and subscription services are all examples of deep web content that the ordinary internet user has access to.

The deep web is concealed behind HTTPS forms because, quite frankly, nobody wants their email history to be publicly accessible and searchable on the internet.

But, if you know what exactly you are searching for, you can easily access its content.

Now, we’re hoping you noticed that both the surface and deep web sum up to make 94% of the Internet. So where is the remaining 6%? That’s what we have been setting the scene for; the dark web!

The dark web is a subset of the deep web, offering privacy and anonymity. It has the power to make anything and anybody invisible.

It is also worth mentioning that the dark web is not hosted by a single mother server but rather by a horde of servers and nodes accessible only via onion-style linkages.

Although the dark web is frequently portrayed as a lawless haven for illicit activity, this isn’t always the case. The dark net is merely an anonymous area of the internet that is open to constructive use as well as misuse.

Regardless of your intent, you need to be able to safely access it to benefit from it.

How to Get on the Dark Web Safely in 2023

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Utilizing the Tor browser is the simplest way to access the dark web because it will send your traffic over the Tor network.

Using Tor, you can enter any URL, including the dark web’s .onion domains.

For enhanced security, we recommend utilizing the Tor-over-VPN technique, which essentially means connecting to a VPN before using Tor.

A Tor network may be safe and private, but your internet Service Providers will be able to recognize its use. Some governments and ISPs may even be apprehensive of Tor’s use.

A VPN for the dark web is, therefore, your best shot at the level of anonymity you desire. The Tor-over-VPN connection will conceal your internet activities and stop anyone from discovering that Tor is being used.

Following are the steps you can follow precisely to get on the dark web safely:

  • Connect to one of the safest and most reliable VPNs to encrypt all your online activities and mask your real IP address. Even though encryption is offered by both, a VPN is very different from Tor.
    By using a VPN, you can keep your ISP and other people from finding out that you have downloaded and are using Tor Browser.
  • Download and install the free Tor Browser that sends all of your traffic over the secure Tor network.
    Also, remember that Tor Browser should only be downloaded from the Tor Project’s official website since unofficial third-party downloads can include viruses.

It is highly recommended that you use anonymous and encrypted emails when communicating on the dark web and pay via cryptocurrency only.

Best VPN for Accessing the Dark Web Anonymously

Since your anonymity and safety on the dark web are so heavily dependent on a VPN, you ought to make the choice very carefully.

There is an abundance of VPN providers that claim to provide the highest standards of security, but it is highly advised that you check the veracity of your preferred options before making a decision.

Narrowing down the choices for you, we will list down the three VPN providers we found most suitable to make Tor-over-VPN convenient for you.

  1. NordVPN – 🏆 Winner!
  2. Surfshark
  3. Atlas VPN

1. NordVPN

NordVPN

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Numerous reviews from all across the world have ranked NordVPN as one of the finest and most secure VPNs around the globe. Anyone seeking a safe, dependable, and feature-rich VPN should consider this one.

The fact that NordVPN’s headquarters are in Panama, a country that truly values privacy, makes their no-logging policy sound very legitimate.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has conducted independent audits for the company on two separate occasions, validating the claims of its no-logging policy and the privacy of servers.

In addition, NordVPN’s extensive collection of security features has made a huge contribution to bringing its name to the top of our list.

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  • 5,442+ servers in 60+ countries
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Next-generation military-grade encryption
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  • 6 simultaneous device connections
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Let’s look at its cryptography first. The service uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, which is impenetrable even by the most skilled of hackers and powerful computers.

Additionally, NordVPN offers the DoubleVPN feature, which adds a layer of encryption to customers’ data for a much safer online experience.

Providing perfect forward secrecy, NordVPN ensures to have the encryption key is modified each time the app is launched.

It also provides a selection of various security protocols, such as the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols.

But one of NordVPN’s most well-known features is its NordLynx protocol, which is based on the well-known Wireguard standard but is allegedly quicker and more secure.

NordVPN’s outstanding dual kill switches, one for the internet and one for the app, also make it one of the most desirable VPNs for the dark web.

These switches are an excellent feature for online security since they let you choose whether to shut down a specific app or stop all internet traffic if suddenly your VPN connection drops.

Not only that. It offers protection against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks in every slick app that NordVPN has released for different platforms.

Along with securing your online activity, it also protects your device against viruses and other harmful websites by preventing any unwanted adverts with an integrated threat prevention feature.

Last but not least, NordVPN has a sizable server network that spans 60 countries. The 5400 servers that make up this network are all RAM-based, so even though encrypted, the data isn’t kept around for long enough to fall into wrong hands.

Every time a server is rebooted, its memory is wiped clean.

If you find this level of online security optimal for getting on the dark web, you should go ahead and purchase a subscription.

Not only will a single subscription let you connect six devices simultaneously, but if you don’t find the service up to the mark, you can claim a refund within 30 days.

2. Surfshark

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Recommended Guide: Surfshark VPN Review

There are many VPN providers out there in the industry that can offer optimal security services for accessing the dark web through the Tor browser. However, not every provider is easy on the pocket.

Surfshark is known to be one of those affordable options that offer subscription bundles with competitive prices without skimping on any essential features.

Especially if you require a VPN for long-term use, there could not be a VPN offering a better value for the same price. The longer your commitment, the cheaper you’ll find its subscription.

Surfshark has established itself as a go-to option for many large families and small enterprises thanks to its ability to support an infinite number of devices with a single account and superior security measures.

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  • 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

Some notable features that guarantee the security of your valuable data online include strong DNS leak protection, dependable perfect forward secrecy, and reliable AES 256-bit encryption.

Additionally, it implements a wide range of tunneling protocols, including WireGuard, OpenVPN, ShadowSocks, and IKEv2 (IPsec).

Additionally, Surfshark offers an automated kill switch, which significantly contributes to the service’s reputation as the most secure VPN for the dark web.

When the VPN connection abruptly ends, the kill switch automatically stops your internet activity to prevent your data from being accessed by hackers.

The Multihop feature, which provides an extra layer of encryption by sending user data through two servers for added protection, and the Cleanweb feature, which continues to block adverts for users’ comfort and safety from harmful websites, are two other outstanding features that you will truly appreciate.

Even better, it contains a built-in antivirus program to guard against viruses and a stealth mode to hide the usage of VPN servers.

The scale of Surfshark’s network is also pretty impressive, given that it only began operating in 2018. The fact that its whole fleet of 3200 servers (located in 65 different countries) is RAM-based is the cherry on top of the cake.

This obviously means all data is deleted from the servers with just one flick of the power button. The absence of data saved means there is zero chance for hackers to access any data.

Furthermore, Surfshark has dispelled yet another major worry and demonstrated the veracity of its claims that it does not log any personally identifiable user information by performing a thorough audit of its server infrastructure.

Furthermore, Surfshark has dispelled yet another major worry and demonstrated the veracity of its claims that it does not log any personally identifiable user information by performing a thorough audit of its server infrastructure.

This measure taken by Surfshark speaks volumes of its credibility. So, now there should be nothing holding you back from buying a subscription.

3. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN

Recommended Guide: Atlas VPN Review

Within a short span of its existence as a VPN service provider, Atlas VPN has depicted its true potential to its users as well as its rivals in the industry.

It has climbed up the success ladder so fast that the VPN provider has been recently acquired by a highly reputed security firm called Nord Security.

Being situated in the US has always raised questions about the veracity of Atlas VPN’s zero-log policy. Concerns about data retention, however, have significantly decreased since its acquisition last year.

Users are now more confident in Atlas VPN’s no-log policy because Nord Security is the parent firm of the top-rated NordVPN as well.

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  • 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

Additionally, the VPN conducted an independent audit that same year, supporting its no-logging assurances.

The most important aspect of a VPN is the security it offers. Only by using the strongest encryption and the safest protocols will your data flow be secured from prying eyes.

Atlas VPN protects your data with industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, your data is safe from prying eyes.

Additionally, it offers highly secure IKEv2 and WireGuard protocols. By navigating to the app’s settings, you can quickly select your preferred protocol.

A kill switch is also included in every Atlas VPN client. This feature automatically halts your internet access if your VPN connection crashes. This guarantees your anonymity and stops your data from being leaked over a risky connection.

It offers another special feature called the SafeSwap. In essence, it is an IP rotation tool that, to increase security, assigns a new IP address each time you view a new webpage.

Other features it proudly provides include SafeBrowse for filtering advertisements and questionable websites and a fantastic data breach detection tool.

And to make matters even better, Atlas VPN has generously bundled all these outstanding security tools into a free basic version.

Of course, this free VPN has its shortcomings, as do all others, but not security-wise. Instead, it restricts access to just three server locations.

In contrast, you may have the same high-end security features and 750 server locations in 38 different countries by subscribing to its premium version for a very reasonable price.

Like Surfshark, Atlas VPN also allows for unlimited devices to be connected concurrently with every purchased subscription.

Other Tools and Services for the Dark Web

Now that you know how to get on the dark web with a VPNs safety, you may wonder what other tools you can use to increase your security.

Although dark web browsing is more complicated than conventional web browsing, there are several tools you may use to map your path.

You can identify trustworthy dark websites using dark web search engines and discussion boards like Reddit, but you’ll need a dark web browser to access them.

So, aside from a reputable VPN service, you’ll also need the following:

  • Browser. The Tor Browser is the most popular dark web browser, and it uses the Tor network to route all of your browser traffic to access the darknet. Your traffic is encrypted as it travels through Tor and is relayed across at least three nodes. This helps mask the data’s source, making your IP difficult to trace.
  • Search engine. Search engines on the surface web cannot reach the dark web, but specialist dark web search engines can guide you to the information you want.
    For instance, when you utilize the well-known privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, you are not tracked around the internet.
    Dark web pages are indexed by DuckDuckGo’s search engine, but you must use Tor Browser to access them.
    Torch, Haystack, Not Evil, and Ahmia are some other names of dark web search engines you can rely upon.
  • Website links. In contrast to the simple-to-remember web addresses on the surface web, the majority of dark web URLs are chains of seemingly random characters and digits.
    A collection of links from the dark web can be found on The Hidden Wiki, a surface-level website, although the links aren’t always reliable and may not be secure.
    Use it to gain insight into the types of dark websites you could find interesting. But, to prevent yourself from any potential hazards, obtain a secure VPN before browsing any dark websites.

FAQs

Is it Legal to use the Dark Web?

In short, yes. In the majority of the world, using the dark web is legal. However, engaging in criminal acts while using the dark web still counts as breaking the law.

We highly advise all of our readers to always use common sense and steer clear of unlawful activity on the dark web (and elsewhere).

What is Tor?

Tor, short for The Onion Router, is a browser used to access the dark web or to remain anonymous online.

Tor is comparable to proxy servers and VPNs in that they all support some level of browsing anonymity.

Tor and a VPN can be used in tandem to offer strong, overlapping degrees of anonymity and privacy.

Is It Safe to Get on The Dark Web?

Although being on the dark web may make you vulnerable to numerous kinds of cybercrimes, it is still wrong to assume it’s always riskier than the deep or surface web.

In addition, the dark web’s enhanced privacy protections may make it safer, depending on what you’re using it for.

Follow suggested security procedures, such as using antivirus software and only clicking on reputable links, to navigate the dark web safely.

A VPN will provide an additional layer of security.

More information is available in our guides for iPhone and for Android.

Is it Possible to be Tracked While Using the Dark Web?

On the dark web, it is incredibly challenging to monitor internet activities.

Your online activity is hidden when you use Tor because it sends your web traffic through numerous relay “nodes,” making it possible for you to browse anonymously.

Although Tor offers several privacy improvements, user tracking on the dark web is still possible.

Your behavior may be monitored if you access private accounts while on the dark web or go to websites that use tracking scripts.

In Summary, the best VPNs in 2023 are;

Conclusion

Since the black web is a complicated space, many things can go wrong there. Scammers, viruses, and phishing websites are everywhere.

Sometimes learning by doing is preferable. However, it is not the greatest approach while using the dark web.

The last thing you want is to suffer a substantial financial loss before you figure everything out or to infect your system with malware.

On the dark web, there are plenty of those who wish to capitalize on ignorance. But, a wiser choice is to take all possible measures to evade such troubles.

👉 Get NordVPN’s FREE Trial

Using a Tor browser might be safe, but Tor-over-VPN can further enhance your safety on the web.

We highly recommend the use of NordVPN, a simple, fast, and secure VPN to let you enjoy seamless browsing on the dark web.

But there are plenty of other options if you have time to carefully sift through them and pick out one of the most credible ones.

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Written by Trevor Cooke

Trevor Cooke is an accomplished technology writer with a particular focus on privacy and security. He specializes in topics such as VPNs, encryption, and online anonymity. His articles have been published in a variety of respected technology publications, and he is known for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and accessible manner.

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