So you want to explore the dark web (or deep web) to see what it's all about? But you're worried about your privacy and whether it's actually legal or not?
Well the dark web is legal. It was actually created by the US Government as a way to securely communicate away from the World Wide Web.
But what you do on there may be illegal. There's plenty of things you shouldn't be buying or hiring. So here's our guide to staying anonymous when using the dark web.
Is The Dark Web Legal?
Absolutely. The dark web is perfectly legal but what you do on there might not be. For example you can join a chess club or social network, read up on the latest news or even send anonymous emails. But buying illicit sustances, of course isn't legal.
Accessible by a browser called Tor, the web addresses are referred to as .onion domain names and can be purchased much the same way as a .co.nz in the real world.
Access Dark Web Today
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) is a piece of software that runs in the background on your device and replaces your normal IP address with an overseas one.
With one click you can change your IP address to any country in the world. This makes it possible to unlock local content you usually couldn't access, fast and safe.
Additionally a VPN allows you to remain secure online, by protecting your real identity from prying eyes such as your ISP and local authorities.
VPN's don't track your usage either, allowing you to do whatever you like online.
There's many VPN providers out there, but we only recommend the best and most affordable for New Zealand residents and tourists.
How To Access Dark Web With A VPN
Follow this simple five step process to access dark web within minutes.
1. Purchase Cheapest VPN Plan
Surfshark is one of the most affordable providers out there, with plans starting at $1.99USD per month. This works out to be around $3.15 per month in NZD.
You can purchase with Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Amazon Pay and Google Pay. A full 30 day money back guarantee is included.
2. Download The Application
You'll receive an email with your login details.
Additionally you'll be able to download their software for your device.
They offer support for MacOS, Windows, Linux, FireTV, AppleTV, Android TV, iOS, Android, Xbox, Playstation, Google Chrome, Firefox and Roku.
3. Login To Your VPN Account
Once the app is installed, you'll need to use the username and password to login.
The app will remember your login details for future access.
4. Activate & Choose Server
You'll be able to change locations in a matter of seconds. Click connect and once the Surfshark logo lights up green you'll be connected.
If you want fast speeds then choosing the Optimal location will be your best option.
Currently they offer over 63 countries across 6 continents to choose from.
5. Download Tor Brower
You need to visit the official Tor browser and download the app for your device. Once installed you'll be able to use it in a similar way to Google Chrome.
Of course there's no search engine, so you'll need to find .onion wiki sites to find sites that interest you. Once you're finished you can close Tor and disable the VPN.
We recommend running a VPN at all times when surfing.
What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web refers to that portion of content on the World Wide Web that can only be accessed with specific software and or special authorisation.
While the terms ‘Dark Web’ and ‘Deep Web’ are often used interchangeably, there is in fact a key distinction between them: The Dark Web is but a small portion of the Deep Web.
The Deep Web refers to all content on the World Wide Web not typically accessible by search engines.
How To Access Dark Web
Access to the Dark Web is typically done through a project known as ‘Tor’, which stands for ‘The Onion Routing’, and is an open source software for giving users anonymity online.
While there is not a clear definition as to what exactly constitutes the Dark Web, it is typically portions of the deep web associated with controversial, and often illegal, content, such as drugs and weapons, as the anonymity of the service often facilitates the selling and purchasing of these goods for purveyors and potential purchasers alike.
Should You Access Or Not?
It is highly recommended that users entirely avoid attempting to access the Dark Web, however at the very least, great caution should be taken to access is through anonymous software such as Tor.
All of the content on the internet can be split into two primary categories, what is known as the ‘Clearnet’ and the ‘Deep Web’.
The Clearnet, also known as the ‘Surface Web’, refers to all websites that are available publicly and typically used for unencrypted public consumption.
Dark Web Search Engines
Essentially, everything indexed by a search engine. Below the Surface Web is the Deep Web, also known as the hidden/invisible web, which encompasses all content not indexed by search engines.
Search Engine Indexing is the process by which search engines, such as Google, store web page information from their web crawlers, which enables them to respond almost immediately to user search queries.
As such, the Deep Web does not necessarily include only illegal or controversial content, instead is primarily encrypted information such as Medical Records, Research Papers, online banking information and private forums.
Legitimate Dark Web Uses
Many parts of legitimate websites like Facebook are included in the Dark Web, as there are often links generated exclusively for a particular user and not retrievable from a search engine.
The Dark Web should not be accessed without utilisation of anonymous routing software such as Tor, as much of what it is on the Dark Web is illegal.
Dark Web In The News
One of the most notorious black markets on the Dark Web was the infamous Silk Road, which is considered to be the first dark web market and sold many of the aforementioned goods.
The platform launched in 2011, however, it was shut down by the FBI in 2013. Goods sold on Dark Web websites are usually purchased with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which allow for some degree of anonymity.
Dark Web New Zealand FAQ's
1. Do you have to use a VPN to access?
No you don't. You'll need to use a Tor browser and this offers some layers of encryption but it's not foolproof. It does offer defence against surveillance, trackers and fingerprinting.
Additionally though, a good VPN can add an additional layer of security encryption.
2. Is dark web accessible in NZ?
Yes the network is accessible from anywhere in the world. You just need to use the Tor browser and enter .onion addresses to find what you're looking for.
3. How to search for content on dark web?
Typically the platform doesn't offer any search engines such as Google or Bing. However, some website owners create directories which list out many popular sites.
The reason it's known as the dark or deep web is because it's impossible to find what you're looking for, unless you know where you're going.
4. How do I stay safe on the dark web?
You should always use a VPN provider such as Surfshark, which can hide your real IP address from the world, and ensures your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can't track you.
Additionally you'll need to download and install the free Tor browser which allows you to search and lookup .onion domain names.
Tor doesn't track your usage, but websites on the dark web might, so using the VPN is definitely the best way to mask your real identity.
5. Can I access dark web without Tor?
Some VPN providers allow you to access .onion domain names when they are running.
NordVPN is the only provider we know of that offers this service, Onion over VPN. You need to choose a specific server, and can then access URL's without Tor.
6. Will I get scammed on the dark web?
There's many websites on there that are designed to scam you. They'll have fake reviews, wrong information and likely require a Bitcoin payment which is untraceable and can't be refunded if you don't get what you purchased.
You should do your research and find trustworthy sites. As everything is pretty much unregulated on there, it's impossible to tell the good from the bad.