A person willing to access the “.Onion” websites that are present in the Tor network must definitely know the difference between a normal website and ‘.Onion sites’ which constitutes a portion of the deep web. Before I get on with the simple process of accessing onion sites, here is a small brief about .onion domains.
What is .Onion Site?
.Onion is one of the special Top-level Domains (TLD’s) especially for Anonymous hidden services that can be accessible via the Tor Network.
A Normal Browser cannot access the information i.e on an Onion domain without the use of the proper proxy software. As you all know, Tor mainly focuses on Anonymity likewise this system was designed in a way that both the sender and the provider information will become difficult to be acquired an intermediate person when they are using Tor Network.
The address of onion sites is 16-character alpha-semi-numeric hashes generated using a public key when you configure a hidden service.
Tor uses pseudo-TLD like ‘.exit’ which is used as an exit node while connecting to a web service. The “onion” name refers to onion routing, the technique used by Tor to achieve a degree of anonymity.
While you connect to Tor network your internet activity will be sent through Tor relays bouncing from one relay to another until it reaches an exit node increasing the anonymity of the user. Even giving access top blocked sites in a specific country or region.
Even if an organization or a body is monitoring the ‘.exit node‘. For eg take Google can’t find the browsing activity of the user but they will only be able to see the IP address of the Tor exit nodes.
Theoretically Speaking “Tor network hides the website hosted inside it so no one can find it”.
Registering these domains doesn’t come under the ICANN registry where one cannot go to GoDaddy and buy a ‘.onion’ address like you do for ‘.com’ or ‘.ca’ domains. It has its own way of setting up and if you are planning on exploring Tor then learn how to get your own .Onion domain up and running.
Follow the 4 easy steps to access Onion Sites
- Download Tor from Tor Project.
- Install Tor Browser.
- Setup up VPN.
- Enter the ‘.Onion’ Address and browse safely.
How to Access .onion Sites using Tor Browser
Step 1: Before you begin accessing the Onion sites (Onion Links), you need to set up the Tor Browser which is a modified version of your normal Mozilla firefox with added security measures for Anonymity.
For Windows, Mac, and Linux users, you can directly download the Tor Browser from the Tor Project. Orbot: Proxy with Tor and Orfox: Tor Browser for Android are the official apps for Android users available on Play store. Currently, there is no official app release from Tor Project Team for iOS Users.
Step 2: Once the Tor Browser has been downloaded. Begin the installation process. Download the latest version because it has the latest updates and security features.
Click Run to begin. Looking for detailed installation, then read the simple 10 step tor browser installation. Once you have successfully configured. You can proceed below.
Step 3: [Highly recommended] Anonymity is the key for safe surfing nowadays. Even though Tor provides security it ain’t enough to protect your identity. So you need to use Tor and VPN together to get the maximum anonymity.
Tor over VPN also provides access to the Tor Network even where it is blocked, such as corporate and school networks, or certain countries.
Another advantage is that your VPN service will still not see what you are doing inside the Tor Network. And if there is a bug in the Tor Browser (as has happened before), connecting to VPN first will put an additional layer of security between that bug and you.
Step 4: Type the Onion address – http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/ to access the popular DuckDuckGo search engine’s hidden service. Tor Circuit for the site can be seen below. You can change the New Tor Circuit for this site by using Ctrl+Shift+L.
Bad idea to access .onion Sites through Tor2Web (or) Proxies
You can also access .onion sites without using Tor but by using proxies which are a very bad idea. Since it increases the potential risk and sends data over the regular internet which leads to deanonymizing when you connect to the .onion sites.
Likewise, Tor2Web works in the same way and which should be used and here is what https://facebookcorewwwi.onion.to/ displays.
Again without I will recommend you beware of some fake .onion sites since it contains some nasty things and might contain scams. It can possible steal your data. Follow this links for the list of directories of onion links.