What to See on the Darkweb: A Travel Guide to Hidden Services

We got our hands on a database containing more than 8 000 links to the websites in darknet. It is practically one complete register of what is hidden in Tor Hidden Services. We’ve chosen the best!


WARNING

The authors and the editorial are not responsible for what you might encounter on the other side of the web. Darkweb is full of adult content, illegal products and services, all kinds of fraud, so be careful and keep your private data safe and don’t get into anything illegal.

A carders’ forum, a collection of photos depicting women crushing animals with their high heels, a mirror of Russian Counter-Strike forum, photos of women with their privates decorated with marijuana leaves and heads, someone’s trashy file storage with a bunch of books and complete collection of Hacker magazines, a gun owners forum, photographs of women urinating, an archive of books in Chinese, a topical message board on penis enlargement and of course drugs — of every possible kind, form and state of aggregation. So much and even more you can find just in ten minutes when exploring the dark side of the web.

INFO

Most links in this article lead to Tor hidden services. The easiest way to open them is to install Tor Browser.

It’s not an easy task to dig out something of value in this pile of trash. We used a script to check and sort the links and out of 8 000 webpages only 4300 actually opened. A thousand or so showed an authorization form straight away with no meaningful information whatsoever, so we just could not get any good of those. There was also plenty blank pages, pages with a default web server response and various mirrors, clones and placeholders. So even if we assume that some websites are not always up and therefore they did not make it into our list, all in all there are not so many working websites, maybe a couple thousands.

Using Tor from Python

Requesting pages from your own scripts though Tor is no more complicated than from clearnet. All you need for it is a local Tor node (just open TorBrowser), Python and SocksiPy library. Here is the script, that downloads the PirateBay main page through Tor and shows its contents. We are sure you’ll manage to do the same for anything else.

So, what have we got? After the preliminary sorting we noticed that the topics are very few. There were mostly stores and trading platforms, that resemble forums or eBay-like auctions. Drugs, guns, fake documents, stolen things credit cards, exploits, botnets — it’s like some illegal flea market. We will look into it below.

К этой же категории можно отнести и сайты, где предлагают To the same category belong the pages offering all kinds of services, from bitcoin laundering to contract killing. And while the former sounds believable, the latter is likely a spoof. Fraudulent pages make the trading-oriented segment even larger.

Another huge segment is pornography. Anything, from extravagances such as described above to the usual kind, which is plentiful in the clearnet.

Actually quite a big part of dark web sites begs the question: why bother hiding it in the .onion? Libertarian blogs, hackers manifests, home pages… Sometimes you get the impression that someone just wanted to practice or show off by publishing their content in such a cool way. Such sites disappear one by one pretty quickly after their owners realize that having a server is costly but there’s no use to it.

Search and catalogues

After entering the alternative version of the internet, the first thing you want to get hold of is a search engine. No problem, choose your weapon: Torch, Grams, not Evil, Fess, Candle, Ahima and maybe a few more Googlings.

We won’t even try comparing the search quality of the above, we don’t have special metrics and procedures at our disposal, but here are some subjective comments. Grams’ results are full of spam, not Evil and Torch are not good at sorting the results: first lines might be taken by some garbage instead of the largest sites. It is not necessarily bad, since in the darknet the garbage can actually be of interest, but in the end of the day we prefer Fess.

Fess

Fess

The trick is that in the darknet a search engine similar to Google is not always the best and universal solution as usual. First, the most interesting things are hidden in forums, that usually require authorization, so the search engine is helpless here. Second, the websites are so few that the search engine is almost meaningless: different searches yield the same results plus some random unrelated trash. And by the way in the darknet search engines have almost no way to track and use users’ behavior via analogues of Google Analytics and AdWords to improve search quality.

This Google imposter looks just like the real thing, but is so much less fun

This Google imposter looks just like the real thing, but is so much less fun

In clearnet before the modern search engines were created this problem had been solved with classic useful links catalogues. In a sense, this article is the same thing, it is showcasing the websites that are of interest and are currently alive – the only difference being that we do not get paid for publishing the links.

The situation with popular catalogues is tough: in notable Hidden Wiki a great percent of the links do not work at all, while order and selection of the links rise serious questions to the owners of this page. There are also Onion URL Repository, OnionDir, Yet another Tor Directory, TorLinks, HD Wiki, russian «Godnotaba» and hundreds more, large and tiny, curated and not, published in darkweb and in clearnet.

«Godnotaba». There is a note saying that they stopped accepting new links due to some school troll’s harmful activity.

Yet another Tor Directory. The owners seem to love a little of anarchy now and then

Mail

Absolutely anonymous e-mail can be really useful and of course there are plenty of such services. Although its users pool is obviously quite specific: sending untraceable e-mails is good not only for hackers, spies, political dissidents and informants, but also for spamers, bot-owners and extortionists, who appreciate automation. This stipulates some major restrictions.

The most popular e-mail service hank works via Tor is called Sigaint. Its logo looks like an eye with three scary blood drops under it. “Bleeding from the eyes” is what you actually feel looking at this site, so the metaphor is legit. The interface seems to have arrived right from the 90’s, crazy colors, ads all over the place, annoying captcha (you have to fill it both when logging in and sending mail), mailbox limited to only 50 Mb, problems with encoding… All in all the user experience resembles Middle-age tortures.

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