Dark Web Search: The Best Dark Web Search Engines in 2023 (2024)

What is a dark web search engine?

A dark web search engine is an online tool designed to find websites on the unindexed part of the internet known as the dark web. Dark web websites are not listed on regular search engines, but dark web search engines can help you find them.

Search engines are integral to the web browsing experience, but only about 10% of all websites are indexed on a typical search engine. The remaining sites, including those on the dark web, won’t show up when you search Google — they can be accessed only with a direct URL, IP address, or deep web search application.

The internet consists of two parts:

  • The surface web: Also known as clearnet, the surface web includes many of the public sites we use when we browse the web, such as news sites, e-commerce sites, social media sites, etc. These sites are all indexed on search engines and visible to everyone.

  • The deep web: Sites on the deep web — also known as the invisible web — are hidden from search engines. These sites often contain sensitive information and are hidden behind password-protection protocols and other security systems.

While classified government data and sensitive health records sit in the deep web, many of the sites we use everyday are also part of the deep web, such as our email accounts and personal banking portals.

The dark web is a subset of the deep web. One way to understand the difference between the dark web and the deep web is to think of the dark web as a small part of the deep web that sits on a special network accessible only via special software tools like Tor browser. Most dark websites are hosted and accessed on the Tor network and can be identified with the use of Tor’s own top-level domain: “.onion.”

Best search engines to search the dark web

The dark web is more than just a shady cyber bazaar for drug deals and other transactions on dark web markets. It also supports independent journalism, provides secure email services, and lets people evade government censorship and surveillance.

There are useful resources on the dark web, and you need a dark web search engine to find them.

Here are the best dark web search engines:

Torch

A portmanteau of Tor + search, the Torch search engine is the oldest search engine on the Tor network. Torch indexes a range of dark web sites and links. On top of that, Torch web search speeds are relatively fast.

Torch takes online anonymity and digital identity very seriously. The platform offers truly uncensored and unfiltered web search results. Along with offering an unrestricted search engine list, Torch also prevents web tracking.

DuckDuckGo

The DuckDuckGo dark web search engine is like Google for the dark web. Widely considered one of the best private search engines, it’s the default search engine on Tor browser. DuckDuckGo has a simple interface, with a search box in the middle of the page, and its list of search results is also formatted like Google’s. And it’s not just a deep web search engine — DuckDuckGo works for surface websites, too.

DuckDuckGo also has a no-log policy, meaning they don’t keep a record of your search history or collect other user data. Used in with a dedicated private browser, DuckDuckGo is a powerful search engine and a potent privacy tool.

Dark Web Search: The Best Dark Web Search Engines in 2023 (1)

The Hidden Wiki

The Hidden Wiki is the dark web version of Wikipedia. So while it’s not exactly a deep web search engine, it makes navigating Tor easier by providing a categorized directory with indexed links to “.onion” websites, as well as surface web links.

The Hidden Wiki isn’t a completely unrestricted search engine, because it uses filters to block many of the scam sites found on the dark web. But like many other allegedly illegal search engines, the Hidden Wiki does index certain shady sites that Google blocks.

Dark Web Search: The Best Dark Web Search Engines in 2023 (2)Source: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hidden_Wiki

Ahmia

Ahmia is a surface web search engine that’s compatible with Tor’s onion services. Onion sites are often associated with illegal activity, but Ahmia aims to bring them into the mainstream by filtering Tor search results and weeding out fake or unsafe websites that may contain malware.

Ahmia’s simple interface helps make searching the dark web more accessible, and Ahmia lets you perform deep web searches in regular web browsers like Google Chrome.

Haystak

With over 1.5 billion indexed pages, Haystack boasts more indexed sites than any other deep web search engine. It’s also fast and helps protect your identity and privacy. Haystack does not track your data or compromise your privacy for profit, although the free version will serve you occasional ads.

If you go premium, you’ll lose the ads and gain additional data insights and access to historical versions of websites. Haystak is one of the best dark web search engines on the Tor network.

Not Evil

Not Evil is an onion dark web search engine that’s a great introduction to Tor-specific search tools. Not Evil’s name is a play on Google’s old motto: Don't be evil. And unlike Google, it doesn’t participate in advertising or web tracking.

Not Evil has more than 32 million websites and addresses indexed from Tor servers, as well as more than 14 million onion links. The Not Evil search engine is a not-for-profit operation, and it relies on a community of volunteers who report false results and log “abusive” sites.

Candle

Candle is a web crawler and dark web search engine for Tor’s onion service websites. Candle’s index contains over 100,000 web pages, including dark web marketplaces and forums, and it’s popular among cybercriminals and others who purchase illicit goods from dark web markets.

The Candle search engine is effective, but minimalistic — it gives you only the top ten most relevant results for your search queries. And the search box can’t read certain characters like parentheses or quotation marks.

Dark Search

Dark Search is a relatively new free search engine tool that aims to make the dark web more accessible. This dark web search engine also has an easy-to-use interface and offers free access to onion links and websites. The creator of Dark Search is currently working on a way to let dark web users access restricted dark web forums via onion search engine links.

Kilos

Kilos is primarily used to find and access dark web markets where — as the name suggests — illicit drug transactions are one of the main activities. While many search engines steer clear of the dark web’s seedier elements, Kilos embraces it and doesn’t filter search results.

That approach has resulted in Kilos becoming one of the premiere black market search engines, but it’s also why it’s a dangerous portal to a landscape teeming with potential threats.

Types of dark web search engines

For those interested in accessing the safer parts of the dark web, there are censored dark web search engines that filter out the more illicit dark web sites. And there are also tools for those interested in an uncensored dark web search experience.

Unlike regular search engines like Google and Bing, dark web search engines usually don’t track web activity or log your search history. And most onion search engines operate as nonprofits and don’t display ads.

But that doesn’t mean your dark web activity is completely anonymous. Before you start browsing websites on the dark web, make sure to protect yourself by using a VPN, proxy, or Tor.

Searching the dark web

You need to use a dark web browser — such as the Tor browser — to search and access the dark web. Dark web browsers are specially designed to connect to websites on the Tor network, where most dark web sites are hosted. Though you can search dark web indexes with some clearnet browsers, you won't be able to access the sites themselves.

The desktop version of the Tor browser can be downloaded directly from the Tor project’s website. Tor browser apps for Android or iOS are available on Google Play and the App Store. Once you have Tor or another dark web browser, there are plenty of search engine options available to help you find the dark web content you’re looking for.

The importance of using a VPN when searching the dark web

Whenever you’re online, but especially if you go on the dark web, you need a VPN to encrypt all your communications and data.

Tor’s elaborate onion routing technique makes web tracking extremely difficult, but it’s still possible for third parties to spy on certain aspects of your web activity. A VPN adds an extra layer of encryption to protect your privacy. And it hides your IP address from hackers, your internet service provider (ISP), and even government spies.

Dark Web Search: The Best Dark Web Search Engines in 2023 (3)VPN encryption protects your data from being intercepted while on the dark web.

Setting up a VPN is easy, and there are plenty of commercial VPNs for PC and other devices available.

Here’s how to use a VPN to access the dark web:

  1. Download a secure VPN from a reliable vendor.

  2. Install the VPN on your device. Mobile VPNs are available for secure dark web browsing on Android and iOS, too.

  3. Connect to a VPN server using the VPN protocol from your provider’s list of options.

  4. Launch the Tor browser and start browsing “.onion” websites using one of the onion search engines listed above.

Stay private and protected online with a VPN

Whether on the clearnet or the dark web, using search engines and other browsing tools can lead to data leaks that expose your search history and other personal information. That’s why it’s important to use online security tools that protect your personal data.

Avast SecureLine VPN hides your IP, secures your Wi-Fi connection, and encrypts your data to make sure your personal information stays secure wherever you go online. Try Avast SecureLine VPN today.

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Dark Web Search: The Best Dark Web Search Engines in 2023 (2024)

FAQs

Can I check dark web? ›

There is no way for any company to search the entire dark web. A scan can uncover when your data has been exposed. But it can't find every instance of this because not all personal data is exposed in data breaches.

What happens if you Google the dark web? ›

If you click on any links, you may be taken to material you might not want to see. It's also possible that clicking a link or downloading a file could infect your device with malware. Law enforcement. Law enforcement officials operate on the dark web to catch people engaged in criminal activity.

Can you access the dark web using DuckDuckGo? ›

Dark web search engines

DuckDuckGo is a popular privacy-focused search engine that doesn't track you across the web when you use it. DuckDuckGo's dark web search engine indexes pages on the dark web, but you'll need to open it with Tor Browser. Other dark web search engines include Not Evil, Torch, Haystack, and Ahmia.

Can police track you on the dark web? ›

Typical web browsers reveal their unique IP (Internet Protocol) address, making them traceable by law enforcement. But a dark web browser issues a false IP address, using a series of relays, to mask the user's identity. A significant portion of dark web activity is lawful.

What if my SSN is on the dark web? ›

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT

When your Social Security number is available on the dark web, it gives cybercriminals the ability to open credit accounts in your name. In other words, someone other than you can take out personal loans, apply for credit cards, or open other financial accounts under your name.

What are the dangers of dark web? ›

The dark web is a common gathering place for hackers and other cybercriminals, which can make browsing the dark web a risky activity. Visitors to the dark web should exercise extreme caution when downloading files, as they may infect your devices with viruses, malware, trojans, ransomware or other malicious files.

What can you not do on the dark web? ›

4 things you shouldn't do on the dark web
  • Don't access forums in an unauthorized manner. ...
  • Don't assume someone else's identity. ...
  • Don't do research without a plan. ...
  • Don't put your corporate network at risk.
Sep 15, 2021

What can you legally do on the dark web? ›

12 Legitimate Uses for the Dark Web
  • Circumvent Government Censorship. ...
  • Anonymous Email Services. ...
  • Anonymous Collaboration With Journalists. ...
  • Visit News Outlets. ...
  • Contact the CIA Anonymously. ...
  • Access to Academic Research. ...
  • Use Ad-Free Search Engines. ...
  • Secure Your Cryptocurrency Wallets.
May 10, 2022

What do people put on the dark web? ›

Given its anonymous nature, the dark web is also used for illicit and even illegal purposes. These include the buying and selling of illegal drugs, weapons, passwords, and stolen identities, as well as the trading of illegal pornography and other potentially harmful materials.

What is the dark web version of Facebook? ›

The Facebook onion address located at facebookwkhpilnemxj7asaniu7vnjjbiltxjqhye3mhbshg7kx5tfyd. onion (formerly facebookcorewwwi. onion) is a site that allows access to Facebook through the Tor protocol, using its . onion top-level domain.

What kind of illegal activity is on the dark web? ›

Some of the more prevalent illicit activities include arms trafficking, drug dealing, and the sharing of exploitative content—often involving children—such as pornography and images of violence and other types of abuse. Websites support the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremist groups.

Can hackers track you on DuckDuckGo? ›

Use a Reliable VPN. DuckDuckGo protects your privacy while you search, but it offers little defense against other threats on the Internet, like government surveillance and social media trackers. DuckDuckGo doesn't encrypt all your traffic, which means any prying eyes can still see your activity and IP address.

Who owns the dark web? ›

In July 2017, Roger Dingledine, one of the three founders of the Tor Project, said that Facebook is the biggest hidden service. The dark web comprises only 3% of the traffic in the Tor network.
...
Content.
Category% of total% of active
Illicit total29.756.8
Inactive47.7
Active52.3
11 more rows

Can you be tracked with DuckDuckGo? ›

DuckDuckGo search is completely anonymous, in line with our strict privacy policy. Each time you search on DuckDuckGo, you have a blank search history, as if you've never been there before. We simply don't store anything that can tie searches to you personally.

Can police see you through your phone? ›

Thanks to the Fourth Amendment, the police cannot search your phone without a warrant. The police are allowed to ask you to unlock your phone and hand it over, but you have the right to decline this request. However, a police officer can take your phone as evidence, even without a warrant.

Can police track us through your phone? ›

The police won't track your phone without reason, but they can access your device's location history in an emergency or if they suspect criminal activity. Once they have a warrant, the police can access a phone's GPS data through a cell provider and view its current or last known location.

Can the police see everything on your phone? ›

The cops might have access to any accounts your phone was logged into, this means they may have read personal communication, noted your personal accounts including email addresses, social media account names to follow, sent messages or made posts using your log in.

How much is your Social Security number worth? ›

The company found that buyers are currently willing to pay just $1 for a Social Security number, which is the same amount they'll pay for user and password information to Brazzers, a pornographic website.

Should I freeze my Social Security number? ›

The good news is you can help better protect against credit fraud with a security freeze (also known as a credit freeze), which stops creditors from accessing your credit reports to open new credit accounts.

Can the government remove your information from the dark web? ›

It is generally implausible to remove data that has been disseminated within the Dark Web. Individuals whose PII has been discovered on the Dark Web are encouraged to enroll in an identity and credit monitoring service immediately.

Should I be scared of the dark web? ›

The dark web can be a hard place to find and that makes it an enticing place for criminals to buy or sell stolen personal information. Theft of personal information online has unfortunately become a way of life and the dark web serves as another threat, putting every piece of compromised personal data at risk.

What is deeper than the dark web? ›

The deep web is much broader in scope than the dark web. This umbrella term covers all the parts of the online world that are not accessible by web search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.

What is illegal to watch on the Internet? ›

Viewing Child Porn Is Highly Illegal on the Internet

Violation of such laws can lead to extensive prison time, fines and lifelong registry as a sex offender. Even prominent persons have learned how serious child porn charges can be.

Is Tor illegal in the US? ›

Tor is legal in the US. You won't likely get in trouble just because you use the Tor browser. However, Tor is not a lawless domain, so you can't use this browser for illegal activities. If you use Tor for buying drugs or weapons, you are held responsible against the law.

What kind of things are sold on the dark web? ›

They function primarily as black markets, selling or brokering transactions involving drugs, cyber-arms, weapons, counterfeit currency, stolen credit card details, forged documents, unlicensed pharmaceuticals, steroids, and other illicit goods as well as the sale of legal products.

What does the dark web page look like? ›

The Dark Web is a lot like your regular, everyday World Wide Web, which you can safely browse to access websites. But there's one big difference—mainstream search engines, such as Google, do not index sites on the Dark Web. That's actually why this area is called “dark.”

What is the dark web called now? ›

Dark Web vs.

The dark web and the deep web are also often erroneously used interchangeably. The dark web is, in fact, just one part of the deep web. The deep web is what lies underground and isn't just the content that is considered dark. That's why it's also called the invisible web or the hidden web.

How do I get dark web on Facebook? ›

How to turn on Facebook dark mode on a computer
  1. Go to Facebook.com and log in. In the top-right corner, select the downward-facing arrow icon. ...
  2. In the drop-down menu that appears, click Display & Accessibility. Select Display & Accessibility.
  3. Under the Dark Mode header, click the circle next to On to enable the feature.
Mar 4, 2022

Do I need to worry about the dark web? ›

The dark web can be a hard place to find and that makes it an enticing place for criminals to buy or sell stolen personal information. Theft of personal information online has unfortunately become a way of life and the dark web serves as another threat, putting every piece of compromised personal data at risk.

Does the dark web make you anonymous? ›

Identities and locations of darknet users stay anonymous and cannot be tracked due to the layered encryption system. The darknet encryption technology routes users' data through a large number of intermediate servers, which protects the users' identity and guarantees anonymity.

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