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Internet is tool connecting computers across the globe. Internet facilitates the communication between people and mostly used for gathering and sharing information. Today, it is impossible for someone to imagine a life without access to internet, it has become an integral part of a human life, where they use it for almost everything- finding friends on social media, seeking life partner on dating sites, setting up small or large scale business, online marketing, online education, digital shopping, ordering food to satisfy hunger, and much more. The list only covers some activities we generally observe on surface web, more precisely known as clearnet. Basically, internet is categorised in three sub themes- Clearnet, Deep Web and Darknet(a subset of Deep Web). Today, in this article we will cover basic information about Darknet and how Darknet users find right site according to their interests.
Darknet is simply cluster of hidden sites which can not be found on surface net and regular browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc rather can only be found and browsed using free and open source browsers such as Tor, I2P, etc. Tor browser is a special browser which provides anonymity by design, like everything, it is also misused by internet scammers and phishing experts. There are tons of sites on Darknet, finding right site is a challenge in itself, as there are countless phishing clones of popular site on Darknet, especially cryptocurrency markets and crypto-exchange sites. Phishers generally target market users in quest for stealing money or simply steal the passwords and brute force market accounts. Phishing is not only threat a new darknet wanderer should worry of, some websites even steal more than just your passwords, if a wanderer ended up on a wrong site, they can be tracked or hacked as some websites trick users to download malwares in the browser and users personal computers. In this article, we will explain how veteran Darknet members find right site for themselves and some general security tips these veteran members follow.
Veteran members do not much use popular search engines and unverified link directories for Darknet
DuckDuckGo: We will start with DuckDuckGo, it is most popular search engine emphasizing on the privacy and it does not track its users. The search engine is not only designed for Tor browser, it can be used without Tor browser. This has tons of sites and can be used exactly like one uses Google Chrome. A searcher can find any site on DuckDuckGo but finding right darknet site is still a risk. DuckDuckGo is misused by internet scammers and phishers there are countless phishings links shared by the phishers.
Not Evil: Not Evil is a search engine designed specially for surfing and finding websites in the Tor network. Not Evil does not track users and store cookies for targeted advertisement. It is another popular search engine just like DuckDuckGo but it has same issues we discussed, sometimes even more. It does not filter phishing or scam sites, a huge section of sites indexed on this browser are either illegal or scam, or both. This is extremely unsafe for a new darknet curious researcher and adventurer.
Torch: Torch is another search engine indexing over a million pages, it is one of the oldest search engine residing on darknet service darknet users. Users can find literally any site on darknet on Torch but as mentioned above sites indexed on Torch are not scrutinized, meaning there is a risk for the newcomers and they might end up on wrong site, either very illegal or phishing/scam site, losing money and privacy.
Hidden Wiki: Also known as Uncensored Hidden Wiki, is another site which is advertised on surface web as a gateway to surf and find right Darknet sites. Veteran darknet members strongly advice against this site, when one browse darknet it is very important to follow safety guidelines in order to secure oneself from phishers, scammers and blackmailers, finding sites from the Uncensored Hidden Wiki to browse Darknet is extremely unsafe practice, this site is run by scammers themselves or in some cases they charge certain percentage from scammers. Almost every site advertised on Hidden Wiki is scam or illegal or both. It is definitely not a safe gateway for darknet.
Tor Links: Tor Links is not a browser/search engine, it’s a link directory indexes hidden sites. Tor Links advertises itself on secmaildotpro(a very popular email service used by darknet users) and other advertising sites. The links indexed on Tor Links are not highly unethical but highly illegal as well. Most of the financial services indexed on this resource are hundred percent scams, defrauding new comers on Tor. Veteran darknet members strongly advice against this site. None of the links shared on this website are safe for darknet hiker.
Alternatives Darknet veterans use to find sites catering Western users on Darknet
Dark.fail: Darkdotfail(dark.fail) is very popular link directory and veteran members vouch for its legitimacy and credibility. It lists and provides legit links of popular cryptocurrency markets, cryptoexchange sites, VPN services for browsing DN, hidden forums, market specific search engines, email services, drug vendor shop services, hidden hosting providers, news and onion links of social media sites, and many other hidden services along with some government run hidden services. According to Darkdotfail, he does not vouches for any site listed on his website and his resource is only intended for researchers mean serving as a gateway to direct darknet researchers at darknet sites. Dark(dot)fail is operational since 2018 and it has never provided any phishing links, which speaks for its credibility. It’s not a decentralized service and run by a self-claimed anonymous journalist researching Tor. It is important to note that there are many state and independent threat actors always trying to hack popular Tor sites. Same holds true for Dark.fail, a user must not consider anything as primary source of information. Always verify a hidden service one is browsing, in next articles we will write about verifying onion sites. At this time, Darkdotfail have not listed any popular hacking forum/market hosted on Darknet. If you’re chasing information about hacking forums on Darknet, read our previous article.
Darknetlive.com: Darknetlivedotcom is another vouched resource by veteran English Darknet users. Darknetlive is a news and information site covering darknet related topics and activities. It also focuses on darknet cryptocurrency markets, drug vendors, arrest news and writes articles about popular onion services. Darknetlive also indexed markets, forums, vendor shops and onion links of other hidden services. Both Darkdotfail and Darknetlive do not provide links of any scam and unverified hidden sites. Researchers and users use Darknetlive, as a gateway for accessing hidden sites, reading about hot events happening in English Darknet and reading about arrest of darknet figures.
Recon: Recon is a search engine hosted and created by same team which runs Dread, biggest discussion forum catering Western Darknet users, featuring cryptocurrency markets and market vendors. Recon provides links to operational and active marketplaces, vendor stats and feedbacks from every market integrated with Recon via Recon API and listings, both market listings and vendor specific listings. Veteran members using Dread forum advice new comers to use Recon to find information about vendors. Recon is a good tool for researchers, investigators and new markets verifying information about vendors. However, Recon is not a decentralized platform and should not be considered as primary source of information. Every market is not listed on Recon, some markets do not like to integrate with Recon while Recon administrators reject request from few markets. A researcher has to visit Dread to find more markets for research purposes.
Kilos: Kilos is another search engine for Darknet market vendors, listings and statistics about sales and feedbacks. It also imports the data directly from the markets by integrating via API protocol which is approved both my market and kilos administrators. Kilos also offers coinswapping services. The Kilos admin is working on few new community projects, one such is darknet album and darknet university.
Dread: Dread is a discussion forum, it’s Reddit style and veterans call it strongest pillar of English Darknet. The team behind Dread and Recon, knows what they are doing and they are good security experts. Dread is most active and largest forum when it comes to user count and content. Almost every Darknet user has heard about Dread. Dread has a score system which is used for creating subdread(subcommunities), users use subdreads to advertise and more outreach for their services, both profit and non-profit resources.
Dread is semi-decentralised forum. Some members using Dread are very knowledgeable and have lots of experience about Darknet. Veteran members identifies scam services faster and actively warn less intellectually fortunate individuals. Dread members can give right and sometimes unbiased opinion about anything, such as next market exitscamming, which vendors do selective scamming, markets run by previous scam admins, suspicious darknet sites, right ethical hacker/programmer to hire, OpSec guides, reviewing a new service, harm-reduction guides, and much more. However, accessing Darknet is always risky, losing money is trivial, even most experienced users are scammed/busted/hacked/doxxed/extorted/ and in some cases killed(fucked after death). Although Dread is full of intellectuals and altruistic veteran members, this is also home of tricksters, scammers, blackmailers, extortionists, fraudsters, investigators, law enforcement officials-both open and hidden(in next articles we will explain how state actors operate on forums) and people offering Ponzi schemes. Veteran members can not always safe everyone, your security is in your hands, one should always follow safety guidelines(we will write in next articles) and always use common sense.
Envoy Project : Envoy is another general discussion forum on Darknet. Its started by Witchman05, former Dread staff and active Darknet veteran user, in year 2019. Although Envoy is not active at this time of writing but its still considered a credible forum and hidden projects conglomerates on Darknet. The team running Envoy forum is ethical and dedicated. Envoy is again semi-decentralised but more democratic forum. The community members are very active and specially dedicates their time and efforts in saving newbies visiting Tor sites.
Other forums: Other than Dread and Envoy, there are few other forums like, Hub, The MajesticGarden, Torigon hacking forum, CryptBB, etc. The community is strong there, some experienced users guides new comers. However, one should be more cautious on hacking forums, as hacking forums are the place generally visited by scammers, tricksters and fraudsters in hopes of tricking new comers and scam money.