Secrets of the Dark Web: Useful Stuff in Tor Hidden Services
Recently I happened to run into a database of more than 8,000 links to Darknet websites. This is an almost complete registry of working public resources available in Tor Hidden Services. I have chosen the most interesting ones to let you know. Dark Web still implies that the websites are hidden from outsiders and it is impossible to get to them at full speed. No indexing will save you, and an individual approach is needed.
What kind of resources are these? After preliminary sorting, it turned out that the set of topics is extremely thin. A significant part of the websites is online shops and trading platforms built in the form of forums or eBay-like auctions. Drugs, weapons, fake documents, stolen goods, credit cards, exploits, botnets – all this can be found in many virtual ruins. I will get deeper into specific examples a bit later.
The same category also includes websites offering different services: from Bitcoin “laundering” to contract murders. And if the first one sounds legit, the second one is most probably a lie. Fraud, consider, adjoins the segment of online shops, making it even bigger.
Another large segment is the pornography of all kinds. From delights like the ones listed at the beginning of this article to the common type that is all over the Internet.
Actually, a considerable share of resources raises the question: why hide it in .onion? Libertarian blogs, hacker manifestoes, homepages… Often it seems like someone just wanted to show off or exercise in placing a website in a fancy way. Such resources disappear one by one – sooner or later their owners realize it’s pretty expensive and eventually worthless.
Searching and Catalogs
The first thing you want to provide yourself with, being in an alternative version of the Internet, is a search engine. There seems to be no problem: you’ve got Torch, Grams, not Evil, Fess, Candle, Ahima and maybe another two or three lesser-known attempts to repeat the success of Google in the Dark Web.
I will not, objectively evaluating the quality of the issue, compare search engines: we need tricky metrics and methods that I don’t have. Based on purely subjective feelings, Grams has seriously spammed results, not Evil and Torch weakly sort their results: at the top, instead of big websites, there can be completely random garbage. It’s not always a disadvantage (garbage can also be interesting), still, Fess seemed to be the most pleasant as a result.
A fully anonymized mailbox is a useful thing, and, of course, such services exist. But you know, the demand here is quite specific: not only hackers, spies, political dissidents, and informers want to send letters and leave no traces, but also spammers, bleeders, bot creators and other fans of automation of all kinds. This imposes a lot of restrictions.
According to It-Rate, the most popular mailer that works through Tor is called “Sigaint”. Its logo is an eye with threatening bloody drops under it. “Blood from the eyes” is, in this case, a very accurate metaphor. The interface is straight from the ‘90s, a harsh vivid-colored palette, an advertisement crammed here and there, an evil captcha (that wants you to enter it both at login and when sending a letter), mailbox size limit is 50 MB, coding problems when sending letters … In short, user experience is at around a medieval torture level.
The early Internet was different in that for those wishing to open their own website there was a lot of opportunities to do it at little or no cost – in exchange for a banner or at least a link to the hoster. In Onion, the situation is different: free servers did not stick and paid ones look not that attractive.
The reason for this is simple: mainly drug dealers and other criminals are ready to pay for hosting which can be accessed only through Tor. If you do not plan to join them, you can easily deploy a server at least at home or find a hosting provider that will not be outraged by the fact that you run Tor on his server. Even for criminal activity, they often use the services of so-called “bulletproof hosters” which also work with Clearnet.
But since we’re talking about hosting in the Dark Web, I’ll give you a couple of examples. On Hidden Host they promise 20 Gb of space and unlimited traffic for 0.1 BTC per year; Real Hosting costs 0.25 BTC per year and gives only 256 Mb of space and 1 Tb of traffic; Kowloon Hosting Services has flexible billing – from 0.04 BTC per month for 256 MB to 0.8 BTC for 6 months and 2 Gb.
What usually hides in dark corners of the Internet, except for drugs and naked personal belongings? Warez, of course!
Nowadays, however, there is not much fun here: there is a mirror of The Pirate Bay, and it generally covers most of the pirate needs.
Dark Web Summary
Of course, you can’t just go and review the whole Dark Web. First of all, because 2,000 links are 2,000 links and it is not easy (and not necessary) to check them all.
The second, even more, important point – “Dark” in the “Dark Web” still implies that the websites are hidden from outsiders and it is impossible to get to them at full speed. No indexing will save you, and an individual approach is needed.
In general, an open part of the Dark Web is so reminiscent of the Internet in the ’90s, with its distinctive anti-design and general carelessness, that it directly stirs up nostalgia.
The main differences: the websites in Onion are much smaller and significantly more mafia-style. But here it is possible (as in good old times) to engage in network surfing and feel the wind of freedom blowing from all sides.
ARoy Emerson is a technology enthusiast, a loving father of twins, a programmer in a custom software company. Greedy reader and gardener.