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The Deep Web – Day 1: Tor Browser

Some of you might have heard of this thing called the Deep Web. Well, I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time, knowing that Google, Yahoo and the other major search engines exclude certain content either by search algorithms, government order, decency or just plain sanity. Finally, I found the doorway to this hidden depth of information and I’m exploring it as far as possible. Day 1, getting onto the Tor network.

First off, I must say, I’m no pro in the Deep Web. I’m a noob to the extreme. The surface web I’ve known my way around for 20 years and can find myself almost anything I want to find. Thus, no more challenge there.

And, as I said, I’ve always known since the 90’s that there was a hidden stash out there. Especially in the 90’s where the warez sites used to float around from server to server.

So, after finding a video that referred to the DW, it also referred to Tor Browser (https://www.torproject.org) which was one of the ways of accessing the Tor network / DW.

Now, first thing you need to know about Tor browser is that it’s based on Firefox. Second thing you need to know is that you can access normal websites and Onion websites through it (discussed a bit later). Third, and probably most interesting and important, is that Tor browser “anonymises” you by bouncing you through Tor relays. Don’t ask me how, I don’t know… yet.

What you need to know about the Deep Web is that it isn’t filled with the normal .com / net / org / etc TLD (Top Level Domains). It’s filled with .onion domains. These domains aren’t online all the time either and don’t look like normal domain names most of the time. They’re … garbled…

So, first thing I did was …. wait for it … Googled “.onion search engine”. And up came a list. Seems there’s a lot of information about it out there, but Google doesn’t touch it due to the dubious nature of a lot of the content.

Now, a very important thing to know about this DW. The sites are not always online. Some sites are only online on certain days. Some only when the guy / gal running it decides so. Others due to network constraints, etc, etc. So, don’t expect to find the site you want on the first try. Sometimes the way Tor works works against accessing a site on the first try and you have to refresh several times to access a website you want.

Oh, and another thing, it’s not as fast as the surface web. It’s 1/10th the speed, again due to the way Tor anonymises you by bouncing you through relays.

Back to the Tor browser. When it’s installed and running, it advises you on certain safety tips. READ THEM, THEY ARE IMPORTANT. Stick to them. They ARE IMPORTANT.

And, just browsing around a bit, I must also add: Take everything you read with a pinch of salt. Maybe a few pinches. This is the deep sea, where the whales and sharks roam freely without life guards (Google and the sorts). No-one will come to your rescue or advise you this is dangerous. Hacking and viruses roam freely. Here, you are on your own. Sink… or swim…

Because of the nature of this content and some articles I’ve read, certain agencies in intelligence watch DW.

Be safe and think before you act.

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