For a beginner, it is almost impossible to find a website on the Tor browser or how it works and that’s where dark web search engines help.
To the layperson, their only exists one type of the Internet – the one we use for normal browsing every day. But, in reality, there are 3 main types of the Internet which are crucial to understanding to get an accurate picture of how it works:
1: The Surface Web
2: The Deep Web
3: The Dark Web
The Surface Web
The surface web consists of all the pages that can be indexed by a normal search engine like Google and are available for everyone to see.
The Deep Web
The deep web consists of all those pages that are protected and hence cannot be indexed by a search engine. This protection may come in the form of several security measures such as passwords. An example is a private Instagram profile whose content cannot be displayed in Google search results.
The Dark Web
The dark web consists of all those websites which cannot be accessed using a normal browser and require a special type of network known as The Onion Routing (TOR). All websites there use a .onion appended at the end instead of top-level domains such as “.com”.
Even though the first 2 are not consciously known by the vast majority of users to be distinct types, they are used every day by them. However, the real mystery lies in the third one, the dark web which only makes up a very tiny proportion of the internet containing about just over 65000 URLs.
Out of these too, only about 8000 are active with the majority of existing URLs not working due to various issues. Yet, this is only one part of the problem.
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Dark web search engines
Another one is the difficulty in finding dark web websites. Unlike the normal surface web, the site URLs do not have easily rememberable names and hence memorization is not an option in most cases. This naturally poses a question, what dark web search engines are available to fill in for Google? Turns out, there are plenty, here are the top 8 dark web search engines:
1. DuckDuckGo – 3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion
Built with the unique selling point of not tracking users, DuckDuckGo has long been used as a replacement for Google by privacy-conscious users. On the other hand, many use it on the dark web as well for its anonymity features. Considering that it is the TOR browser’s default search engine, it says a lot about its reputation for being a good search engine in the community!
2. Torch – cnkj6nippubgycuj.onion
Also known as TorSearch, it claims to be the oldest search engine residing on the dark web along with indexing over a billion pages giving it considerable brownie points. Users are neither tracked nor is there any censorship allowing one to make full use of the information buried within the dark web.
3. Recon – reconponydonugup.onion
This particular search engine was built by Hugbunt3r, a prominent member of the popular Dread service on the dark web. It aims to serve as a database through which users can search for products from different vendors in different marketplaces on the dark web.
Individual profile viewing options for vendors & marketplaces are also available including details like ratings, mirror links, number of listings, and uptime percentage.
4. Ahmia.fi – msydqstlz2kzerdg.onion
An interesting part of Ahmia is that it lets you browse dark web links using a normal browser like Google Chrome. This is even though you would eventually need TOR to access those obtained links but it lets you at least see them this way. On the other hand, it also has an onion URL.
Usage statistics are also available on its site categorized by simple & unique search queries, and simple & unique search results on both the TOR and I2P network. A notable feature of this search engine is that it appears to be simplistic while highly functional at the same time.
Further, it places the comfort of its users at heart with an example being that with one click, it allows you to add your own dark web hidden service to its database.
5. notEvil – hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion
Putting up an aura of simplicity, notEvil is believed to have been modeled after Google. It is also reported that it took its name from Google’s motto back in the day of “don’t be evil”. For searching, users have multiple options to select their results from which are titles, URLs, or both of them combined.
6. Candle – gjobqjj7wyczbqie.onion
Built just about 3 years ago, where the design inspirations came for this site are obvious – Google. Attempting to imitate the kind of simplicity the tech giant has on the dark web has yielded its good traffic with the number of sites indexed growing every day.
7. Haystak – haystakvxad7wbk5.onion
Advertising itself as having indexed over 1.5 billion pages, it sure does deserve a place on the list. However, it should be noted that many of these may not work considering that only a small portion of the sites created on the dark web ever remain online constantly with most being wiped away.
It also offers a premium version that can be ordered using a contact form.
8. Kilos – dnmugu4755642434.onion
Kilos is one of the dark web search engines that’s primarily been designed for the Dark Web. It was launched in November 2019 and provides cybercriminals a platform to find answers to their dark queries, search for services on the Dark Web and find the right person to deal with for all the wrong tasks. Such as, if someone wants to deal with Bitcoin secretly, they only have to type the relevant keywords and the deed will be done.
The only drawback is that researchers who have investigated the use of Kilos believe that the search engine helps cybercriminals more than someone eager to learn about dark web markets.
To conclude, you may also find the links of other dark web search engines but these happen to be the ones that stand out the most. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, many sites don’t survive the stain of time in this strange land so it could be that some of these don’t exist tomorrow.
To remain safe, be sure to steer clear from search results that may lead you to illegal sites such as those offering child abuse content, illegal drugs, or weapons as some of these search engines do not censor such results.