If you think that the World Wide Web is impressive, with its 1.25 billion websites and its 3.7 billion users, then get ready to think again. What we see on the web is just a fraction of what’s truly available, the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Beneath the surface of the water lies the bulk of the iceberg, the deep web. It contains around five hundred times more information than the surface web and 550 billion individual documents – compared to the surface web’s 1 billion.
It’s estimated that over 200,000 deep web sites exist and that 95% of it is publically accessible, which means you won’t have to pay subscription fees or take out a membership to access it. It’s also constantly getting larger – in fact, it’s the most rapidly growing category for new content on the internet.
The Basics of Accessing the Deep Web
The first thing to remember is that much of the information that exists on the deep web is already outdated. It’s a rapidly changing environment – which is one of the reasons why it holds such appeal – and there are a lot of myths and rumors about the deep web that simply isn’t true.
If you’re accessing the deep web from your computer then you’ll probably want to use Tor, which is the go-to browser for beginners. But in this article, we’re going to assume that you’re using your Android device so that you can access the deep web on the go.
In popular culture, the deep web is thought of as a repository for drugs, weapons, and porn, but the truth is that you only hear that from the press. They know that’s what sells stories, and while you can find all three of the above if you look for them, the deep web is about so much more. A great example of this is the New Yorker Strongbox, which allows people to create a code name and to anonymously (and securely) send files to the publication’s editorial team.
We’re not going to tell you exactly where to go and what to look for here because everyone’s deep web experience is a little different and part of the joy of it is discovering it for yourself. That said, if you get stuck then it’s worth logging into OnionChat, an anonymous chat room where you’ll be able to find someone to help you.
Accessing the Deep Web on Android
The first thing that you’ll need to do is to download some applications so you can connect to TOR, the privacy tool that conceals users’ identities and their online activity while they connect to the deep web. There are a number of different apps that can help you to do this, but for this tutorial, we’re going to concentrate on Orbot and Orfox. Orbot allows you to connect to TOR, while Orfox is the browser that you’ll use to navigate.
Orbot works by giving you a dynamic IP, which is an IP address that changes every couple of minutes. That makes it much harder for people to track you down, but it won’t protect you from viruses and malware. That’s why it’s also a good idea to run antivirus software.
Of course, you can still be tracked down if you’re not careful, especially if background applications are still monitoring your location and other data. That’s why it’s also a good idea to use a service such as NordVPN, which helps you to protect your privacy online and to dodge regional restrictions by providing an encrypted virtual private network that allows you to appear to connect from any of a number of locations.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Download Orbot and Orfox from Google Play
Both of these apps are free to download and they’re arguably the most popular deep web Android apps for beginner users and veterans alike. They don’t take up much space, either. Start downloading the apps and then move on to step #2.
2. Download NordVPN and configure it
Next up is NordVPN, which you can use to enhance your privacy by connecting to the deep web via a VPN. NordVPN is free with in-app purchases, and it allows you to pick a country for your VPN by selecting from either a map or a list. Once you’ve signed up to NordVPN, you can head into the server list and select ‘Onion over VPN’ to connect to the deep web.
3. Make sure you’re running antivirus
Before you hook yourself up to the deep web, make sure that you’ve downloaded and installed some decent antivirus software. We recommend Kaspersky Internet Security for Android or McAfee Mobile Security, but you can take your pick from a whole host of providers by searching for ‘free antivirus’ in Google Play. Get it downloaded and up and running before you get started.
4. Load up Orbot and connect to TOR
Connecting to TOR through Orbot is easily enough. Simply boot up the app, wait for it to load and then hit the start button. You should see a message similar to the one shown below to let you know that you’ve successfully connected to the deep web.
There’s no image here because, in the spirit of privacy and anonymity, the apps don’t allow you to take screenshots while accessing the deep web. You can get around that, but we’re not going to. Once you’ve connected to TOR, both Orweb and Orfox will allow you to access the deep web, so boot up Not Evil or Torch – two different deep web search engines – to test your connection. If they load, you’re ready to go.
More About the Deep Web
Every website on the deep web uses a .onion top level domain (TLD) that you need a TOR browser to access. Orbot and Orfox are just two of the applications that can do this, but they’re two of the most trusted and most popular. If you’re looking for alternatives then consider trying Fire.onion or just search for TOR and see what comes up.
Of course, there’s not much point in connecting to the deep web if you have nowhere to go, so it’s also worth finding and bookmarking a list of links in different categories to get you started. Bookmarking takes on some extra importance when you’re using the deep web because it’s not always easy to find a website again after you navigate away.
After a while, you’ll start to find that your bookmarks list is filling up. Don’t just leave it – take the time to organize your bookmarks into sub folders so that it’s easier for you to get around. It’s a pain at the time, but it’s worth it in the long run when it comes to the time you’ll save.
One of the big benefits of using the deep web is that your usage is entirely anonymous. Remember, though, that anonymity will only remain if you let it. If you start to give away personal information like your name or your email address then you’re sacrificing some of that anonymity.
Congratulations – you can now access the deep web from your mobile device! What you do next is up to you and the possibilities are endless. It’s a little bit like falling down a rabbit hole – once you know that the deep web is there it becomes difficult to ignore, and the thrill that you get when you discover a new site is intoxicating.
Why not give it a go yourself?