How to access .Onion Sites?
While surfing the web you might have come across websites that end with the extension “.onion”. Usually, you won’t be able to find websites with this domain extension as they are not indexed by your regular web browsers. (In case, you are interested then you can check this tutorial) This is because the internet and the web in general, are way deeper than what you can access. In fact, you are only able to access about 5% of the total web through the regular web browsers. This part of the net is known as the surface web.
So what about the other 95% of the web?
This bigger part of the web comprises of unindexed or .Onion websites which you cannot access using web browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and more. You will need a special tool such as the Tor Browser to be able to access these websites. All the websites that end with the extension “.onion” are a part of the deep web and hence, can only be accessed using Tor.
What do you mean by an .onion website?
Tor is short for ‘The Onion Router’ and is an anonymous computer network. The primary use of the network is to maintain your privacy and anonymity on the web. In the age where people are using a number of ways to track your online traffic and data, it is very important to be always hidden on the internet. Tor helps you to achieve exactly that and more. Also, Tor allows you a gateway around censorship to access web content that might not be available in your country.
Once you connect to the Tor network, all your internet activity is hidden from the preying eyes of the world and it makes it difficult for people to track your data. Any website you visit or access is relayed to your node after passing through the exit nodes. These exit nodes are random servers which protect your identity on the internet. If anyone is trying to track your location down, all they would be able to see is the IP Address of the exit node.
But how is .onion extension fits into all of it?
Each website on the Deep web ends with an “.onion” extension. This address points to one hidden Tor service. It is nothing but a server that you can only access via the Tor Browser. This means that you can hide the website server on the Tor Network, so that no one will be able to see the server in-theory.
All the popular websites that you use have an “.onion” extension as well for them on the deep web. For example, Facebook, the world’s biggest social media website is also present on the deep web at the address https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/.
How to access these “.onion” websites?
As mentioned above, these .onion websites are only present on the deep web and you will need to have Tor Browser configured on your device for you to access these websites.
- Download the Tor Browser Bundle: You will need to download the appropriate Tor Browser Bundle for your device. You can visit their official website and select the bundle depending upon your language and system configuration.
- Extract the Files: Once you have downloaded the official Tor Browser bundle for your device, you need to extract this WinZip file. Since you don’t need to physically install the Tor on your device to use its services, many people prefer to extract and keep these files on a thumbstick or a USB.
- Run the .exe file: After completely extracting the bundle, double click on the .exe file to run the Tor Browser. You will see that Tor will be trying to establish a connection with the Tor Network. Once a successful connection is established, you will be able to access any .onion website on Tor Browser.
One thing that you must keep in mind while using Tor is that the browser won’t provide you with links to any websites. You will have to search for them on your own. You can easily find website addresses from the hidden wiki directories but be careful to access only verified websites as you can easily find a number of spammers and hacker on the deep web trying to gain information about you.
Deep web is an intriguing place on the web. You cannot access these .onion websites using a regular web browser and therefore, you will need access to Tor to be able to visit these websites. However, you should exercise some caution while on the deep web as most of the web sites on the deep web are operated by scammers and hackers trying to gain access to your private information. Try to visit only those websites which are already verified by other users on the deep web before you.