The deep web is the part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. A part of the deep web is the dark web, which exists inside layered proxy networks—known as darknets. Of these darknets, Tor is by far the largest.
The Tor Network is made up of thousands of servers called relays. When you browse the web using the Tor Browser, your data is not directly passed between your computer and the server. Instead, it is sent randomly between at least three of these relays before it reaches its destination. The data you view might travel around the world multiple times before it reaches you!
This might be inefficient, but it also makes the activity harder to track. Furthermore, your browsing data is encrypted in a way that the relays are not able to see its destination, content or origin simultaneously.
You can use this technique to hide your identity and location inside the dark web, and a provider of a service can hide their location, too. This makes it possible to host sites that are more difficult to take down or censor, but has also been associated with criminal activity.
Inside the dark web, sites cannot use regular domain names. Instead, they use pseudo-domain names ending in .onion. These domain names are not registered with a central authority but are instead derived from cryptographic keys. This means there are no fees associated with them, and they cannot be easily seized. But it also means they are not always easily readable.
This article can also be found on the dark web!
Get the Tor browser (also known as the Onion Browser) and go to http://expressobutiolem.onion/blog/best-onion-sites-on-dark-web/
Connections inside of the Tor Network are end-to-end encrypted by default, meaning there is no separate encryption layer necessary as with regular websites. As a result, most onion sites do not have the S in HTTPS. As long as your connection is secure, the Tor Browser will show an onion instead of the familiar lock icon.
But what kind of sites are hosted in this darknet? What do they do, and why are they there? ExpressVPN proudly presents nine of the most (in-)famous:
(Note: You will need the Tor Browser to open all links to .onion websites in this article and to access the dark web. You can get the Tor Browser here.)
The first online publication that won a Pulitzer is now also the first major publication with a .onion address.
ProPublica does a lot of things differently. Its source of funding is the deep wallet of the Sandler Foundation and various other similar organizations.
Browsing ProPublica’s work through its .onion site works well, and the site’s very existence is a big win for privacy and free speech.
Why would one of the largest organizations known for its invasive stance on privacy and controversial clear-name policy have a .onion address?
While Facebook might collect everything you say and do on its platform, it isn’t happy with sharing this information with others. Facebook is also keenly aware of attempts by many governments to restrict access to a tool that allows strangers across the web to talk and collaborate freely.
Facebook’s .onion address doesn’t make it much easier to maintain an anonymous account, but it does make Facebook more accessible in places where it’s censored.
Searching for content but don’t want to give up your privacy? DuckDuckGo is a great alternative to Google. Search activity isn’t logged by design. Even without the ability to learn about your behavior or monitor your email and browsing, DuckDuckGo provides decent results. Which raises the question: Are Google’s extensive surveillance techniques really necessary?
Over Tor, Google becomes annoying to use, because it frequently subjects searchers to captchas to prove they’re human. But The Duck excels at speed, reliability, and privacy.
4. Wasabi Wallet
Wasabi Wallet is a Bitcoin wallet that not only hides all your data in the Tor Network but also allows you to ‘join’ your transactions with others to increase your anonymity. This makes it incredibly difficult to find out who you are paying.
The process costs a fee, but unlike with other ‘tumbler’ or ‘mixing’ services, there is no risk that Wasabi or any of its users could scam you out of your coins.
Riseup is a volunteer-run email provider for activists around the world.
Founded around 1999 by activists in Seattle, it has since grown to over six million users worldwide. It publishes a newsletter in multiple languages and not only runs Onion services for its website but all its email and chat services.
Archive.today (formerly known as Archive.is) is a platform that aims to preserve the web’s cultural and scientific heritage.
Founded in 2012, it stores snapshots of websites, making it possible to “go back in time” and see what websites used to look like and what information they contained.
Archive.today is considered an important tool to track changes across government and corporate websites, preserve cultural heritage, and keep knowledge outside of autocrats’ reach. You can archive any site you want, or retrieve historical records wherever available.
7. The CIA
Tor has an unlikely history. It was first developed by the U.S. Navy to help informants posted in foreign countries to relay information back safely. In that spirit, the CIA launched an Onion site to help people around the world access its resources securely.
Keybase is an exciting identity service that aims to make it easy for you to link the presence of your online identities together in a cryptographic way. You can upload your PGP key, or have the site create one for you, and use it to cryptographically link your Twitter profile, Github account, or Bitcoin address together.
Keybase significantly raises the bar for attackers who want to impersonate you.
9. The Hidden Wiki
How do you discover content where search engines cannot reach? Just like in the old days of the internet, the dark web maintains numerous indexes of sites, like The Hidden Wiki.
This community-edited .onion Wikipedia contains a bunch of links to a wide variety of services and sources running on the dark web. Many of those links are defunct, and even more of them link to scams or potentially illegal activities. Click with caution!
It’s the only site in this list that already has the longer, more secure Version 3 onion URL.
So many more great dark web links
That’s ExpressVPN’s list of .onion domains worth a visit, but these are not even the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much content out there (be warned, though, it’s not all good stuff).
We also like:
The BBC: https://www.bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion/
Deep Web Radio: http://76qugh5bey5gum7l.onion/
The New York Times: https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion/
The Pirate Bay: https://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/
We Fight Censorship: http://3kyl4i7bfdgwelmf.onion
But, we regret to inform you that The Onion does not have an Onion site: https://www.theonion.com/
What are your favorite .onion sites? Are there any sites you wish had a .onion address? Share your thoughts in the comments below!