Why Can’t You Access the Dark Web With a Normal Browser?

Dark web sites are not accessible with regular Internet browsers. They are also not searchable by ordinary search engines and keep users anonymous while they surf the web. 

Dark web sites end in .onion, instead of .com, .org, .net, etc. on the normal Internet. Special servers run the dark web based on “The Onion Router” service protocol (TOR). 

Anyone who publishes on the dark web is also anonymous. Any information on the dark web is effectively cut off from the normal Internet. The servers and sources are anonymous and decentralized.  

The dark web does not have an indexing system that is easily searched like the ordinary web. So finding the information you are looking for can be a bit harder.

Browsers You Can Use to Access the Dark Web 

Getting to the dark web is actually a lot easier than you might think. All you have to do is download a dark web browser like the Tor browser or one of the others mentioned below.

Here are some popular browsers you can use to access the dark web:

  • The Tor Browser
  • Firefox
  • Waterfox
  • Subgraph OS
  • ISP – Invisible Internet Project
  • Tails – The Amnesic Incognito Live System
  • Opera
  • Whonix

Browsers used to access the dark web work nearly the same as regular Internet browsers. The only thing you need to do is directly type in the URL of the website you are looking for.

The Dark Web vs. The Deep Web

There is the Dark Web and the Deep Web.  They are not the same. 

The deep web and the dark web are both connected by the use of the onion network. It’s the content and behavior that differentiate them.

The Deep Web

The Deep Web is information on websites and databases that are accessible over the Internet but are not indexed by search engines. These include:

  • Bank details
  • User records
  • Employee lists
  • Data backups
  • Government files
  • Machine and network data (stuff you can use Shodan.io search engine for)

Some of this is private but not entirely confidential, so the information can be found online. Much of it is hidden behind passwords or encrypted. 

Most data and exchanges on the deep web are legal. The deep web is accessible using ordinary web browsers and TOR browsers.

The Dark Web

The dark web is the illegal part.

The Dark Web is the source of most illegal Internet activity. The dark web is not regulated by the government so it’s a great place for criminals to play. 

Anything that happens on the dark web is pretty much invisible to most people because it is not indexed by major search engines.  Its reputation as criminal playground is mostly true, since the majority of material and activities have been found to be illicit.  

For instance, you can:

  • Buy guns, drugs, and counterfeit money
  • Buy stolen credit card numbers
  • Buy prepaid debit cards at a discount
  • Buy software to hack into other people’s computers
  • Buy usernames and passwords
  • Buy stolen subscription information
  • Hire hackers

The level of illegal activity on the dark web is only increasing as time goes on. 

(NOTE: If you’re trying to protect your personal identity and information, now you know where it usually gets sold).

Benefits of The Dark Web

There are beneficial activities on the dark web also. 

There are hobby clubs and alternative social networks on the dark web.  Granted, some of the “alternative” activities would be considered highly distasteful or illegal in some countries.  But it’s a place that many non-conformists gather to pursue legal fun, as well. 

It’s also a great place for white hat hackers to develop their skills, get access to real data to work with, and earn money.

Give the Dark Web a Try (if you dare…)

Now that you know how to access the dark web, make sure you’ve got a good VPN and spin up one of the browsers above.  Then poke around and see what you find. 

Read our post How To Hide My Identity Online to learn how to protect yourself while using the web.

Here are a couple of good articles that might help you access and navigate the new dark web waters.

How to Access the Deep Web

Dark Web Browsers

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