Onion 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.
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Accessing the Deep Web is somewhat popular these days for a range of reasons. These include anonymity, supporting free speech, breaching geographical internet restrictions, getting away from the commercial internet, and engaging in illegal activity (which we do not condone!). While accessing the Deep Web via networks such as TOR is pretty straightforward (as this article should show you), you must know what to expect and know how to protect yourself in an online land where "anything goes." This article is designed specifically for Mac users who want to use and stay safe on the Deep Web.
Table of Contents
Step One: Take Precautions
The number of security precautions you need to take depends on what you plan on doing in the deep web. As you are on a Mac, it is improbable that your computer will catch viruses. However, it can still be compromised if you're careless. More important than your PC though, is your privacy: you don't want anyone, especially dangerous criminals getting a hold of your location. So to maximize anonymity while browsing the deep web using TOR, you should:
- Make sure all software updates for your Mac are downloaded & installed.
- Not download ANYTHING on the deep web, including seemingly harmless files such as PDFs.
- Go into your Mac's system preferences and make sure to turn on the FireWall.
- Use a VPN signed up for using a fake name and an untraceable payment method (such as prepaid debit cards or Bitcoin). NordVPN is one such VPN service that allows you to pay with Bitcoin. Click here to learn more.
- Put tape over your Mac's Web Camera so that it cannot be used by hackers to spy on you.
- Shut down all other applications that use the internet (other web browsers, mail apps, etc.) while browsing with TOR.
Step Two: Download TOR
The first step in accessing the TOR underground network is to download the TOR software. To do this, you must first download Firefox (as TOR is a Firefox extension) if you haven't already got it installed on your Mac (click here to download Firefox if you haven't).
Once you've downloaded and installed Firefox, you can download the TOR browser for macOS here. Bear in mind that the TOR software is perfectly legal to own and use, and like anything else, it is only what you choose to use it for that makes it illegal.
Step Three: Browse Websites on the Deep Web
You are now relatively safe to browse any websites on the Deep Web that you wish. However, unlike the "normal web," which is conveniently indexed by Google so that we can access it, the vast majority of the Deep Web is not organized by any sort of search engine or directory. This makes it incredibly hard to get to most websites on the Deep Web. You can start with these few sites. Simply copy and paste the bolded URLs into the TOR browser's address bar and hit enter, as you would with a standard browser:
- The Hidden Wiki - Quite possibly the most famous Deep Web site, The Hidden Wiki is a great place to start for beginners on the Deep Web, as it contains many links to other sites: http://kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
- The Cafe at the End of the Internet - This Deep Web site is a simple forum that allows you to talk to other people on the Deep Web. It contains mostly newbies, so it is a good place for you to start talking to people: http://4eiruntyxxbgfv7o.onion/snapbbs/237d0738/threadlist.php
- The Hidden Image Site - This is a simple service where people can upload and share images, much like Flickr or Photobucket on the surface web. It's handy for sharing sensitive photos anonymously: http://wyxwerboi3awzy23.onion/1.html
- TorChan - Although a much less active site, TorChan is a Deep Web version of 4Chan.org. There are many other "Chans" on the Deep Web; however TorChan is the most active, so is your best "Chan" to visit: http://zw3crggtadila2sg.onion/imageboard/
What to Expect on the Deep Web
To both keep yourself safe and reduce the frustration, you should know what kind of things to expect while you're browsing the Deep Web with TOR. So, what should you expect?
- It has prolonged loading pages. Since everything on the TOR network is routed through many nodes, the speed and bandwidth are minimal. This is why it's not a good idea to run torrents for large files via the TOR network.
- The use of a currency called "Bitcoins." Bitcoin is an open-source currency that has no middlemen and can generally not be traced. This makes it perfect for trading on the Deep Web, where people want to remain anonymous (perhaps because they are engaging in illegal activity). For more info on Bitcoins, click here.
- Illegal activity out in the open. Since the TOR network is more or less anonymous, criminals have much less reason to hide their activity. Don't be surprised if you see illegal drugs, counterfeit banknotes, assassin services, etc. being traded out in the open before your eyes. Yes, it's quite scary, isn't it?
- Unreliable websites. Because a lot of the websites on the TOR network are not hosted on professional servers, they may be unpredictable and have a lot of downtimes. Understand that a website on the TOR network may be up and running one day, down the next, then back up the day after that.
- Very old, "90s style" looking websites. A few factors play a role in making onion websites look old. Firstly, many have been around since the 90s or the early 2000s, and with none being owned by large companies and most not even turning a profit, the webmasters have few resources to upgrade with. Secondly, since the TOR network is so slow, they must be kept very simple, or loading the sites in a reasonable amount of time would become impossible! We've created this fancy infographic for you to share and reference to stay safe and secure while browsing the deep web!