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AVG Signal Blog Security Internet Best Onion Sites to Discover on the Dark Web in 2024
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Written by Anthony Freda
Published on May 18, 2024

What are the best dark web websites?

The best dark web websites take advantage of the unique encryption infrastructure of The Onion Router (Tor) to provide access to independent news reporting, restricted media, and educational or research materials.

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    Although it’s impossible to disappear completely from the internet, the dark web helps preserve the anonymity of activists, journalists, whistleblowers, and others who want to keep their online activity hidden.

    Because dark web sites can only be reached with a dark web browser like Tor browser, the best dark web sites, best onion sites, and best Tor websites are all one and the same. And because they aren’t searchable via Google or Bing, onion site lists are important roadmaps to help users find what they’re looking for on the dark web.

    Here are the main categories that the best .onion sites fall into:

    Dark web search engine links

    You can’t access the dark web through typical search engines or regular secure browsers, but you can install Tor and then use a dark web search engine or dark web directory to locate and access onion search engine links.

    Here are the most commonly used dark web search engines or directories:

    • The Hidden Wiki

    • OnionLinks

    • dark.fail

    • Torch

    • DuckDuckGo

    Note: The anonymous nature of the dark web makes websites inherently hard to find and sometimes misleading in their intent. While it’s safe to search for and scroll through dark web search engine links, websites in the results may harbor malware, disturbing content, or serve as gateways to scams.

    Before you connect to the dark web, protect your computer with a VPN and one of the best antivirus apps.

     A visual showing how robust antivirus software can help block malware threats.A robust antivirus can help block malware and other online threats, even on the dark web.

    Dark web news and media

    Borderless news reporting and uncensored media are among the most important and practical uses for the dark web. Bypassing firewalls and other forms of geo-blocking helps people to access news websites and social media they normally wouldn’t be able to — and do so with less fear of recrimination.

    Let’s take a closer look at some of the major dark web news and media sources:

    ProPublica

    ProPublica has a reputation for unwavering investigative journalism. In 2021, they showed how tax rates benefit the rich, and they relied on stolen or leaked IRS documents to do so. In addition to the surface web, ProPublica also hosts their site on the dark web, because they want to make sure that everyone can access their reporting.

    BBC Tor mirror

    BBC’s Tor mirror was made as a response to geoblocking. It’s the same BBC website you can find by going to bbc.com. However, unlike the surface web BBC, the Tor version is accessible in countries like Iran, China, and Russia, with language options in Persian, Mandarin, and Russian.

    The New York Times

    The New York Times can also be anonymously accessed via the dark web. Some locations block access to the site, so the New York Times began hosting on the dark web to unblock links to their news and make it accessible to everyone around the world.

    Facebook

    Facebook joined the dark web way back in 2014, and it remains a viable way to access the website in China and other countries that block it. Facebook’s dark web portal also provides end-to-end encryption, which Facebook Messenger only enabled in December 2023.

    CIA

    The CIA is contactable on the dark web, providing a completely anonymous way to get in touch with them. However, if you’re communicating with state intelligence agencies, you should use Tor alongside a VPN for maximum privacy. Otherwise, the first node in the onion relay system sees your real IP address, which can be used to locate you and unveil your identity.

    AVG Secure VPN masks your IP address from other internet users, the websites you visit, and even government surveillance. And thanks to ultra-secure, end-to-end encryption, your online activity is obscured.

    Dark web resources

    The dark web is home to a variety of useful and legitimate resources — educational materials, encrypted email services, anonymous forums — that can’t be found elsewhere.

    Here are some onion links you may find helpful:

    Hidden Answers

    Hidden Answers is an uncensored and anonymous forum that’s essentially a dark web version of websites like Reddit. On it, people can ask any question; no discussion will be taken down or moderated. As such, although a valuable conduit of free speech, the content on Hidden Answers can be distressing, disturbing, and potentially illegal.

    Sci-Hub

    Sci-Hub grants access to millions of research papers for free. Since academic research is often fenced off behind paywalls, Sci-Hub aims to democratize knowledge by allowing people to see publicly-funded research for free.

    Of course, bypassing paywalls is ethically questionable and may be illegal in some jurisdictions. That’s why many people choose to do so anonymously on the dark web, rather than using the clear web version of the site.

    Imperial Library

    The Imperial Library of Trantor is a library of thousands of PDF and EPUB books that you can download for free, and many students find this an invaluable trove of information that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access. Although profiting from pirated copyrighted material is unethical and illegal, there are some exceptions to using copyrighted material, such as a “private study” provision under UK law.

    SecureDrop

    SecureDrop uses Tor to provide a safe way for whistleblowers to contact various news outlets. Prominent organizations like The Guardian, The New York Times, and ProPublica have implemented it. The software requires two-factor authentication to receive what’s been uploaded by the whistleblower and allows two-way communication between the anonymous contact and the media outlet.

    ProtonMail

    ProtonMail is an email service that uses end-to-end encryption, making your email accessible to you and only you. The service retains no copies of any data that passes through a ProtonMail account. Although ProtonMail also exists on the clear web, accessing it via Tor provides an extra layer of privacy if you don’t want to leave a trace of you even using ProtonMail.

    Archive.today

    Archive.today collects snapshots of websites and archives them for later viewing. If this sounds similar to The Wayback Machine, the concept is indeed the same. However, The Wayback Machine allows website owners to block their sites from being archived, while archive.today does not.

    Riseup

    Riseup is an invite-only email and communications service that doesn’t hold onto any of the data you generate when you use it. It describes itself as a tool for social change and “a project to create democratic alternatives.” Riseup requires you to have the onion link as well as an invitation.

    Tor crypto wallets

    Crypto services use various measures to keep cryptocurrency wallets secure and make sure your Bitcoin is safe. Some, such as Wasabi Wallet, provide an extra layer of security by using onion routing to pass crypto activity through multiple nodes, none of which know the sending and receiving IP addresses.

    What are onion sites?

    Onion sites are dark web sites that can only be reached through online routing via Tor, in which encrypted data passes through multiple nodes before reaching its destination. Decrypting the data involves peeling back layer upon layer of encryption, hence the “onion” analogy.

    The difference between the deep web and the dark web is that the deep web is the part of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines — for example, pages that require login details like streaming sites, your personal email account, and banking portals — but can still be reached by standard search engines like Google. In contrast, sites hosted on the dark web can only be accessed via onion routing with Tor, or another dark web browser.

    But despite its many benefits, it's sadly just a matter of fact that the dark web can be a dangerous place. Near total anonymity and a complete lack of regulation can easily attract criminality, and onion sites can harbor malware such as ransomware or spyware.

    How to access onion sites

    Bearing in mind all the dangers, if you’re sure you’re willing to accept the risks, all you need to enter the dark web and access onion sites is an internet connection and Tor Browser software.

    Here’s how to install and use Tor:

    1. Go to torproject.org and select your device type to download the software. Since there’s no option for iOS, get Onion Browser for iPhones and iPads.

      A view of the Tor Project homepage and the options for installing.
    2. Save the install file, click to launch it, and then follow the on-screen instructions.

      Choosing a directory to save the Tor browser installer to.
    3. Once installation is finished, open Tor browser. It’s highly recommended that you go to Settings > Privacy & Security and change Security Level to Safest.

      A view of the security settings in Tor. "Safest" is chosen.
    4. Then click Connect to enter the dark web and start accessing onion links.

      A view of Tor's main window. The big purple "Connect" button is shown.

    While you’re at it, now might be a good time to check whether any of your personal information has been leaked on the dark web. Thankfully there’s no need to trawl around looking for it yourself — performing a dark web scan will notify you immediately if your data has been found, helping you take steps to secure your digital identity.

    Explore the dark web more securely with a VPN

    Anonymity on the dark web isn’t complete. Your IP is still being revealed to one of the nodes in the onion, meaning your activity and identity can be unmasked.

    AVG Secure VPN encrypts your internet traffic and obscures your IP address every time you use it to go online — dark web or not. With a variety of server locations around the world to choose from, you’ll be able to navigate the web more privately and access the content you want.

    Access the dark web safely with AVG Secure VPN

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    Access the dark web safely with AVG Secure VPN

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    Internet
    Security
    Anthony Freda
    18-05-2024