Tor Network and Browser

Tor logo

The Tor network, also sometimes called the darknet or the dark web, is an “anonymity” network. The Tor network provides a high degree of privacy protection to people who use it correctly. Web sites and internet services that you access through the Tor network can’t detect your real IP address or your location. You may notice darknet web site users referring to “clearnet” web sites. The term “clearnet” refers to the web sites you surf every day ending in .com, org, .net, .etc. The clearnet was never designed to protect your privacy and does a pretty lousy job of it. When you’re especially concerned about protecting your privacy, it’s a good idea to use the Tor network.

Who Uses the Tor Network?

Most media coverage of the Tor network focuses on the “criminals” who use the dark web. Sure, people involved in illegal activities value the anonymity the Tor network provides. But Tor is also used by non-criminals for a variety of reasons:

  • Journalist communication with whistle-blowers and dissidents
  • Communication for employees with non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) in hostile political environments
  • Chat rooms for rape and abuse survivors or people with illnesses
  • Open-source intelligence gathering by the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies

Those are just a few examples. You don’t have to worry that by using the Tor network you’re going to be automatically labeled a criminal.

Tor Hidden Services

The terms “darknet” and “dark web” refer to web sites that are only accessible on the Tor network. You can easily recognize a Tor network web site from its “.onion” extension. Another name for Tor network web sites are “hidden services.”

When you connect to a hidden service, your data is end-to-end encrypted. Additionally, your web traffic is routed through several Tor network relay servers on the way to the destination. The name “Tor” was originally an acronym for “The Onion Router” which refers to the layered encryption scheme that hides your IP address from the destination web site. The privacy protection works in the other direction, too. Web site visitors can’t determine the real IP address of the hidden service. These features provide you with strong anonymity and location privacy. Anonymity and location privacy make it safe for both buyers and sellers to conduct business on darknet markets.

The Tor Browser

The Tor Project maintains a specially modified version of Firefox called the Tor browser. Using an ordinary browser like Chrome or Firefox leaves you open to tracking by the web sites you visit. Your activity can’t be tracked when you use the Tor browser. You’ll need the Tor browser to browse hidden service (onion) web sites. There are some clearnet websites that provide gateways to onion sites without requiring the Tor browser. These are not safe to use if you value your safety and privacy.

Tutorial: Tor Browser Installation and Set-up

Step 1 – Download and Install Tor Browser

In your browser, navigate to the Tor Project website and follow the instructions to download and install the Tor browser version for your operating system. If you’re using the Tails operating system, the Tor browser is pre-installed.

Step 2 – No-Script Browser Add-on

The Tor browser comes with a plugin called No-Script. No-Script disables JavaScript on web sites you visit. Since JavaScript in the past has been used to de-anonymize Tor browser users, you should make sure this plugin is enabled when you’re browsing the darknet. 

You can check the status of the plugin by the appearance of the plugin icon on the right side of the browser toolbar.

ns-active

This icon indicates the add-on is active and working. You may see a different number next to the icon. The number is the number of scripts that have been blocked on the current web page.

ns-disabled

This icon indicates that the add-on is disabled. You should NOT have No-Script set up this way for general dark web browsing. Most onion sites don’t require JavaScript to operate normally.

If you click the button on the toolbar, it expands to show the add-on control panel. For general day-to-day browsing on the dark web, the buttons on the right side of the panel should look like this:

noscript-correct

The left button is the global setting. You should always leave it on this setting. If it doesn’t look like this, click it once and it will toggle to this setting which blocks all scripts by default on every page. Make sure the second button is always on this setting as well.

If you need to toggle No-Script off for a trusted site to function correctly, click the third button (the clock with the exclamation symbol). That will disable No-Script for that web site only until you navigate to another site. Then No-Script will revert to it’s regular blocking settings.

Caution: We strongly advise against using a mobile browser to access the dark web.

Although there are apps on Android that can be used to browse the Tor network, it’s not generally considered to be a safe practice. Mobile devices have too much location information to be a secure method for reaching darknet markets.

Browsing Clearnet Sites with Tor Browser

It’s possible to use the Tor browser to browse clearnet web sites. You should be aware of some limitations when you use the Tor browser this way.

When you browse hidden services (onion sites) with the Tor browser, your web traffic is end-to-end encrypted. When you browse clearnet web sites from the Tor browser, your traffic is unencrypted from the “exit node” to the destination web site. The Tor browser comes with a pre-installed add-on called HTTPS Everywhere. HTTPS Everywhere forces the use of SSL (secure sockets) on all clearnet web site destinations and will warn you if the destination web site doesn’t support secure sockets. SSL will automatically encrypt your web traffic. You can disable the HTTPS Anywhere add-on, but that is not recommended. (In fact, it is recommended you install and enable HTTPS Anywhere on any browser you use for any reason.)

Web sites you visit can detect that you’re using the Tor browser and some sites automatically block web traffic coming from a Tor exit node. Many sites will require you to solve a CAPTCHA before connecting you to the site.

Are You Ready to Browse the Dark Web?

You’ve learned the basics about the dark web and have installed the Tor brower. We recommend you use your newly acquired skills to check out our complete Darknet Cannabis Buyer’s Guide. The guide includes instructions on everything you need to know to complete a successful cannabis purchase on a darknet market:

  • How to navigate the dark web securely and avoid phishing attacks
  • Buying, storing and using Bitcoin safely
  • How to communicate privately on the dark web
  • What features to look for in a darknet market
  • Identifying a professional, trustworthy cannabis vendor
  • Shipping safety
  • How to make your first darknet market purchase

Our Darknet Cannabis Buyer’s Guide is located on our onion site:

  • Copy the url from the box to your clipboard.
http://darkcannaqvqwkam.onion

 

  • Launch the Tor browser. For best safety, we recommend closing your regular web browser while your browsing the dark web.
  • Paste the onion URL into the address bar on the Tor browser.

Congratulations! You’re now on the dark web. HAPPY SHOPPING!