Table of Contents
- The Distinction between the Surface Web and the Deep Web
- Understanding the Dark Web
- Best Dark Web Search Engines
- Types of Dark Web Search Engines
- Searching the Dark Web
- The Importance of Using a VPN when Browsing the Dark Web
In the vast landscape of the internet, only a small fraction of websites are indexed by traditional search engines. The remaining sites, including those on the dark web, remain hidden from view. Dark web search engines, however, provide a means to discover these hidden websites and navigate the unindexed part of the internet.
The Distinction between the Surface Web and the Deep Web
The internet can be divided into two main components: the surface web and the deep web.
The Surface Web
The surface web, also known as the clearnet, encompasses the publicly accessible websites that we commonly browse. These sites are indexed by search engines like Google, making them easily discoverable.
The Deep Web
In contrast, the deep web refers to the portion of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. This includes sites that are password-protected or hidden behind other security measures. Examples of deep web content include email accounts and personal banking portals.
Understanding the Dark Web
The dark web is a subset of the deep web and represents a small portion of it. Accessible only through special software tools like the Tor browser, dark web websites are hosted on the Tor network and can be identified by their unique top-level domain, “.onion.” While the dark web is often associated with illegal activities, it also serves as a platform for independent journalism, secure email services, and circumvention of government censorship and surveillance.
Best Dark Web Search Engines
To navigate the dark web effectively, it is essential to utilise dark web search engines. These specialised search tools allow users to discover hidden websites and access resources that may not be accessible through traditional search engines. Here are some of the best dark web search engines available:
Torch, a combination of “Tor” and “search,” is the oldest search engine on the Tor network. It indexes a wide range of dark websites and links, and its search speeds are relatively fast. Torch emphasises online anonymity and digital identity protection, offering uncensored and unfiltered web search results. Additionally, Torch prevents web tracking, ensuring user privacy.
Considered one of the best private search engines, DuckDuckGo serves as the default search engine on the Tor browser. Similar to Google, it provides a simple interface with a search box in the centre of the page and formats search results in a familiar manner. DuckDuckGo is not limited to the deep web; it also works for surface websites. It prioritises user privacy by implementing a no-log policy, meaning it does not record search history or collect user data.
3. The Hidden Wiki
While not a traditional search engine, The Hidden Wiki serves as a directory for navigating the dark web. It provides indexed links to “.onion” websites, as well as surface web links, making it easier to explore the Tor network. The Hidden Wiki incorporates filters to block scam sites found on the dark web, ensuring a safer browsing experience.
Ahmia is a surface web search engine compatible with Tor’s onion services. Unlike other search engines, Ahmia filters Tor search results to eliminate fake or unsafe websites that may contain malware. This approach aims to bring onion sites into the mainstream and promote their acceptance. With its user-friendly interface, Ahmia enables deep web searches using regular web browsers like Google Chrome.
Boasting over 1.5 billion indexed pages, Haystak is one of the most comprehensive deep web search engines available. It prioritises user privacy and does not track data or compromise privacy for profit. While the free version includes occasional ads, upgrading to the premium version removes ads and provides additional data insights and access to historical website versions.
6. Not Evil
Not Evil is a dark web search engine that offers an introduction to Tor-specific search tools. It differentiates itself from Google by not participating in advertising or web tracking. Not Evil indexes over 32 million websites and addresses from Tor servers, including more than 14 million onion links. As a not-for-profit operation, it relies on a community of volunteers to report false results and log “abusive” sites.
Candle functions as a web crawler and dark web search engine specifically designed for Tor’s onion service websites. It indexes over 100,000 web pages, including dark web marketplaces and forums. Candle is popular amongst cybercriminals and those involved in illicit activities on dark web markets. While effective, Candle provides only the top ten most relevant results for search queries and has limited character recognition in its search box.
8. Dark Search
Dark Search is a relatively new dark web search engine that aims to make the dark web more accessible. It offers an easy-to-use interface and free access to onion links and websites. The creator of Dark Search is currently working on a feature that will enable dark web users to access restricted dark web forums via onion search engine links.
Kilos primarily focusses on facilitating searches for dark web markets, particularly those involved in illicit drug transactions. Unlike other search engines that shy away from the dark web’s seedier elements, Kilos embraces them and does not filter search results. While Kilos is a popular black market search engine, users should exercise caution due to the potential threats present in this landscape.
Types of Dark Web Search Engines
Dark web search engines can be categorised based on their level of censorship and filtering of illicit content. Some search engines prioritise safety and exclude illegal websites, while others provide an uncensored search experience. It is important to remember that dark web activity is not entirely anonymous, and users should take precautions such as using a VPN or Tor to protect their privacy.
Searching the Dark Web
To search and access the dark web, a specialised dark web browser like Tor is required. Dark web browsers are specifically designed to connect to websites hosted on the Tor network. While it is possible to search dark web indexes with clearnet browsers, accessing the sites themselves necessitates the use of a dark web browser.
The Importance of Using a VPN when Browsing the Dark Web
When browsing the dark web, it is crucial to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt communications and data. While Tor’s onion routing technique provides a level of anonymity, it is still possible for third parties to monitor certain aspects of web activity. A VPN adds an extra layer of encryption, safeguarding user privacy and protecting against hackers, ISPs, and government surveillance.
Setting up a VPN is a straightforward process, with numerous commercial VPN providers offering services for various devices. By using a VPN in conjunction with a dark web browser, users can ensure their data remains secure and their online activities remain private.
Dark web search engines play a vital role in navigating the hidden corners of the internet. By using these specialised tools, users can discover valuable resources and access content that may not be readily available through traditional search engines. However, it is important to exercise caution and prioritise privacy when exploring the dark web. Utilising a VPN and other security measures can help ensure a safe and secure browsing experience.