Step by Step Guide on How to Access the Dark Web Using Tor
Tor browser helps you to access dark web sites, but you must always combine it with a VPN and advanced security settings to stay fully anonymous online
Tor is the acronym for “The Onion Router”, which refers to a free browser that places users at the fast lane of online privacy. The anonymity tool gives you, the user, secure access to dark web sites that may not be accessible via traditional search engines and browsers.
On the surface, Tor protects you from the prying eyes of law enforcement by employing a host of layers of data encryption when accessing platforms in the internet’s hidden services.
The anonymity tool has a lot of applications in many quarters that demand private information and communication. The interesting thing about Tor is the fact that it can be used for legitimate reasons apart from the usual illicit activities on the dark web.
Journalists have been using it to share sensitive information that may otherwise get them in trouble. This becomes critical for people living and operation in countries that have enforced internet censorship. Activists suffering the effects of dictatorship have also been able to leverage on Tor as their go-to online anonymity and safety tool.
Having said that, Tor has become quite the popular browser among people browsing the dark web for whatever reason. Coupled with the right OPSEC knowledge and a highly capable Virtual Private Network (VPN), users can employ Tor to buy drugs online without the worry that law enforcement will identify you.
How Tor Works
Put simply, Tor routes all of a user’s traffic via a series of different “nodes” or relays” found on the Tor network.
Once a user launches and connects to Tor, their data is passed through new layers of encryption through three stages referred to as nodes. First, the data begins at the entry node before being passed on to the middle node and terminating at the exit node.
Figure 1: The Tor structure - middle computers represent relays in the Tor network, and the three keys represent the layers of encryption between the user and each relay (Source: Tor Project)
We can provide a simpler explanation of how Tor works by using the example of how the postal system works. If you inserted your data into an envelope to be sent to your friend in another location, several people will have to handle it before getting to its destination.
First, the envelope will be sent to Person A (entry node) who will open it to read the message “send to person B”
Once the message reaches person B (middle node), the same process will take place where they’ll pass it on to person C (exit node) who will now be able to view the innermost envelope. The exit nodes works to implement a user’s request, such as gaining access to a dark web platform.
Point to remember, none of these nodes can view the whole route, including the specific message held in the envelope and its sender. This whole process ensures that the user’s data remains anonymous all through.
How to Use Tor in 4 Easy Steps
In the past, Tor usage was the reserve of computer geeks, but this has changed over the years – using Tor is as easy as a pie. Here’s how:
- Download and install the Tor browser. On the Tor project site, you’ll be able to pick the appropriate link according to your operating system (Windows, iOS, Linux and Android).
Figure 2: The various Tor browser download options.
- Launch the browser and click “Connect” on the Tor browser configuration window that pops up on as the first page.
Take note that the option “Tor Network Settings” is meant for people who’ll be using proxy. At this point, you can set Tor browser to “Always connect automatically”.
Figure 3: Connect to Tor
- Wait for the Tor browser to connect to the node network. This may take a few seconds
- You’ll now be ready to browse the Tor network!
Figure 4: the Tor browser landing page.
Important Tips for Accessing the Dark Web via Tor
Although Tor provides you with the much-needed anonymity to help you browse the dark web safely, there are a number of things that you must remember in order to guarantee your privacy and safety.
To do this, select “Options” in the drop down menu on Tor and go to “Privacy & Security” (See below).
Figure 5: Advanced security settings on the Tor browser.
IMPORTANTLY, Always use a VPN when accessing the dark web using the Tor browser. Take note that as much as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may not be aware of the sires you visit, they can know that you are using the Tor browser.
A VPN will hide your Tor use because law enforcement agencies and some ISPs are always suspicious of Tor use – you’ll attract their attention. In addition, Tor exit nodes get compromised sometimes and this is where a VPN will step in to help hide your IP address.