WARNING: It is highly recommended that you use a VPN (virtual private network) to hide your IP address and personal information when browsing the deep web. This is an additional security measure that can keep you safe while you navigate the unknown parts of an almost entirely unregulated portion of the internet. MacInfo recommends NordVPN to stay safe. They don't retain logs of their user's activity, have great server coverage across the globe, and are incredibly affordable. Click here to get access to NordVPN for iPhones and iPads. You can also read our review of NordVPN here.
By now, most people are aware of the "deep web," but few are aware of what it means. For most people, it probably conjures images of the notorious "Silk Road" crackdowns from a few years ago. This is only one side of the deep web, however.
Is there a safe and effective way to access the "deep web" from your iPhone? That's what we wanted to find out. Whether you're interested in bypassing certain privacy settings or finding a more effective way to access blocked content, we'll explore how apps like TOR on iPhone can help you connect to this hidden corner of the internet.
Table of Contents
What Is The Deep Web?
The "Deep Web" (sometimes referred to as the "dark web") doesn't, in actuality, refer to anything particularly nefarious. The concept behind the deep web is pretty simple: it's the part of the internet that cannot search engines cannot find.
This includes content that paywalls block, or that is password-protected. It also applies to pages that do not have permanent URLs. Most people access parts of the deep web every day without even thinking about it: the messages in your email account, private messages on Facebook, and many other routine internet actions are considered to be part of the deep web.
Because such a large amount of data comprises it, it's hard to estimate the size of the deep web or the percentage of the internet it makes up, but suffice it to say that it's big.
Why Do People Use the Deep Web?
Many people choose to conduct their conversations via the deep web because it offers a better chance of a thread remaining untraceable and unseen by prying eyes. Some search engines like DuckDuckGo have hidden servers that run on the deep web.
Accessing The Deep Web
Hopefully, by now, we've debunked the myth that all deep web browsing is somehow related to illegal activity. However, the question remains: how can the average user access the deep web without compromising their safety?
To access the deep web, you need the right browser to navigate the extra security protocols. You need an Onion browser to navigate through the dark web. There are many Onion browsers used to access the dark web. The most popular one is TOR.
Darknet website URLs are not your typical website ending with a .com or a .org. Dark web addresses end with a special extension: .onion. For a person who is new to the dark web, it might be a bit challenging to find sites with the .onion extension as they do not show up on the Google search results page.
You can use special search engines made specifically for the dark web including Torch, Candle, and NotEvil. Note, if you've clicked on one of these hyperlinks, they won't open unless you are browsing using TOR.
Browse The Deep Web On An iPhone
Connect to a VPN
Connecting to a VPN is essential. In our experience, we have found NordVPN, to be perfect for protecting your privacy before accessing the deep web. We highly recommend for all users looking to browse the deep web, to use a VPN as it offers further security and guarantees anonymity. VPNs help to hide your IP address and make your actual location untraceable.
There are many dangers in the deep web, with all sorts of malware seeking access to your files and malicious ads and trackers profiling your online presence. One of the reasons NordVPN is our go-to choice is the new Threat Protection feature which wraps an entire cybersecurity suite into the deepest layers of its VPN functionality, ensuring that not only is your privacy protected, but your device as well. Alongside security measures, it also keeps a detailed log of threats it has prevented, and where they originated from, so you know what sites to avoid in the future.
If you want to learn more about using VPNs on your iPhone, you can read about it here.
TOR Browser for iPhone
We've examined what the deep web is, we've talked about how to access these sites, but we haven't yet touched the essential aspect of the conversation: finding the right deep web browser on your mobile device.
A simple search through the App Store reveals an incredible array of apps that all seem to promise the same thing: easy and safe access to the deep web. I've mainly been disappointed by most of these apps, even some I paid quite a bit of money for.
Here's what it comes down to, in my opinion: if you're looking to access the deep web on iPhone, there's only one option that provides the speed and safety that you need. That browser is TOR.
TOR for iPhone is free and easy to use. This open-source software is a necessity for anybody living in an area that heavily censors internet access. Unlike other apps, it doesn't require coding expertise to effectively hide your IP address and additional personal information from surveillance and would-be attackers.
Working in combination with your iPhone VPN, TOR provides you with access to the myriad sites only available in the so-called "dark web." You can read more about using NordVPN to stay safe while browsing the deep web in this article.
While there are dozens of deep web iPhone browser options available, I've found that most of these are unbearably slow (that is, when they're effective at all). This isn't to claim that TOR is somehow as fast as regular web browsing, but it is undoubtedly at the top of the heap when it comes to the browsers currently available for iPhone.
One important thing to remember when using TOR is that multimedia (i.e., videos) often bypasses it and that can compromise your privacy; video files and video streams are blocked by default and are not supported by Onion Browser.
Onion Browser might not work when inside countries or using ISPs that actively block TOR. If the app does not connect, try using bridges or visit the Help/Support page to see what you can do. Onion Browser does not carry any guarantee of successful use.
If it's been a while since you've used TOR, you'll likely be thrilled with some of the changes they've instituted, including a better path selection tool. They still offer the same secure, anonymous web browsing that they did before, with improved functionality.
As with all similar services, we advise you to use TOR on your iPhone at your own risk. Several regions and countries have found ways to block the use of apps like TOR actively. In some cases, your VPN can get you around this issue, but you should never keep or access highly sensitive information via a mobile device anyhow.
Other reliable Onion browsers for iPhone include OrNET and Brave Private Browser. Many suggest DuckDuckGo as one of the browsers that you can use to access the dark web. We highly advise against it since DuckDuckGo does not use TOR as their encryption. It is not a TOR browser, and accordingly should not be used to navigate the darknet.
What Sites To Visit On The Dark Web?
As we've already mentioned, contrary to popular belief, the dark web isn't all bad. While humans have found a way to use it for illicit activities, it is still a useful place to navigate while anonymous. Here are some of the useful and productive sites you can visit on the darknet.
As one of the first online publication sites to be made for the dark web, ProPublica, amassed a large following as it aims to provide news that is raw and real. It aims to expose the government for its lies and abuse of power. The publication is a non-profit organization.
Just like Quora, Yahoo Answers, or Reddit, we've got Hidden Answers for the dark web. While you can ask your questions on Quora or Reddit, you're not truly anonymous there. This is not the case when accessing Hidden Answers. You can freely carry out your queries without worrying about exposing your identity or even being shy.
Sci-Hub is one of the most popular sites containing a database of a large number of research papers available to download for free. Yes, even paid research papers are free to use.
The website is created and supported by Alexandra Elbakyan, a Kazakhstani computer programmer. She is known as the Science's Pirate Queen due to her contribution to providing free knowledge.
The site is extremely popular even on the clearnet. Clearnet is a term used to describe your standard internet browsing outside of the darknet. While you do not need the dark web to access Sci-Hub, the full range of benefits of the site can only be accessed via the dark web.
With the iCloud storage leak controversy a few years back, most assume that none of the popular online cloud storage providers around today are truly safe from hackers. If you're looking to store your digital content in a safe space online, Black Cloud could be an option.
E-commerce is a big part of the internet, and the dark web is no exception. Dream Market is an online shopping website where real-life people can list their items for sale.
If you're lucky, you might end up finding something rare on the market list. You can also use bitcoin to pay for items on this site. Many might consider shopping over the dark web sketchy and you're right to be skeptical about it. However, FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) has allowed Dream Market to operate on the dark web, meaning it should be safe to shop from.
If you're looking to meet and chat with new like-minded people while staying anonymous, The Campfire is your go-to place. The Campfire is a modern-day remake of the good old chatrooms similar to the ones people used on MSN and Yahoo Chats.
The chatrooms are called Campfire Chats, and apparently, the site is family-friendly. You can expect to have decent and articulated conversations with opinionated people.
For anybody who needs to access deep web information but still takes their security very seriously needs both TOR and an effective VPN. We wish you the best of luck finding what you need on the deep web or merely keeping your personal information and communications hidden from prying eyes.
Even if you're new to the whole concept of the "deep web," TOR is an easy-to-use iPhone app that solves all kinds of security and speed problems presented by other deep web browsers that are currently available. While we do our best to remain unbiased, we doubt that any browser will come along that improves upon TOR's function for a very long time.
We love to interact with our readers - let us know if you have any comments or questions about using TOR on iPhone. Happy surfing!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is using TOR and browsing the dark web safe on iPhone?
While iPhones are less secure than computers, you can hide your IP address on your iPhone.
Can you use Safari to access the dark web?
How does TOR protect you?
What is the best TOR browser for iPhone?
Why is it risky to go on the dark web without a VPN?
If you do not use the VPN, they can easily track down your home address through your IP address. While you may think accessing the dark web is harmless, it might not be the case within the jurisdiction of the country you reside in. Many countries have banned TOR, and so the ISPs in those countries have blocked access to websites facilitating the use of the dark web.
There is a good reason for that, as the dark web is used for various illegal activities such as the buying and selling of weapons, drugs, and even child pornography.
If simple privacy, such as hiding your IP, is your only concern, we highly recommend simply using a VPN and not going near the dark web. Make sure to follow our guide on hiding your IP address on both Mac and iPhone or iPad. Following these steps should provide adequate security.