The dark web can only be accessed through an anonymity network like Tor. Tor encrypts data sent to and from your device, hiding the contents of your internet traffic. But your internet service provider and government agencies can still see that you’re using Tor. Even though specific online activity is anonymized, Tor’s reputation as a criminal tool means simply connecting to the Tor network might be enough to raise eyebrows and draw unwanted attention. Some countries block Tor altogether.
If you want to hide the fact that you’re using Tor from your internet service provider and other third parties, we recommend using a VPN for Dark Web. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through a middleman server in a location of your choosing. The VPN hides Tor traffic inside the encrypted tunnel, so no one but you and the VPN provider can see you’re using Tor.
Use a VPN
Internet providers and websites can detect when Tor is being used because Tor node IPs are public. Although websites can’t identify you and ISPs can’t decrypt your internet traffic, they can see that Tor is being used. This can raise suspicions and draw unwanted attention.
If you want to use Tor privately, you can use either a VPN or Tor Bridges (Tor nodes that are not publicly indexed). Tor users in the USA in particular may want to use a VPN, which will be faster and more reliable. When using a VPN, your ISP will not be able to see that you are connected to a Tor node, only an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server.
Navigating the darknet
Now that you have Tor, you can access the dark web. Darknet websites are called “Tor hidden services”, and they can be distinguished from normal websites by their URLs. Instead of “.com” or “.org”, dark web addresses can be distinguished by the top-level domain, “.onion“. Obviously, finding these .onion websites is the first challenge, as they won’t show up in Google search results. You can’t just Google “Silk Road” and hope to land on the dark web site. A handful of darknet search engines that do index. onion sites include NotEvil, Ahmia, Candle, and Torch. There are also directories like dark.fail.
If you’re looking for a good blend of affordability with formidable security, CyberGhost is bound to impress. Based in Romania, the VPN’s strict no-logs policy is sound and backed up by military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. CyberGhost also offers an additional NoSpy server package that is perfect if you want to hide your Tor usage from your ISP. All CyberGhost apps are compatible with the Tor browser and you’ll be able to connect 7 devices simultaneously.
Despite being relatively new to the VPN market and having a smaller network than most, Surfshark nevertheless boasts impressive unblocking capabilities — including being able to bypass China’s Great Firewall.
Surfshark also offers plenty of unique features that make it a superb option for accessing the dark web. Its No Borders mode is specifically designed to get around censorship while Camouflage Mode will hide your Tor usage from your ISP. MultiHop will also give you an additional layer of protection by routing your traffic through two separate servers instead of one.