There's a secret internet for drug dealers, assassins, and pedophiles

tor onion router walkthrough

Photo: Screenshot

The average person is only aware of a fraction of the Internet.There is more content out there than any conventional browser can access. These sites are termed “Deep Web” or “Undernet.” They exist outside the scope of Google, Facebook, and your RSS reader. It’s the digital equivalent of a thriving city that’s been domed over and cordoned off.

Click here to jump straight to our tour of the Deep Web >

These sites are locked down so tightly that you need a special browser to access them. It’s called the Tor browser, and it offers you an entirely new way of connecting to the Internet.

Where conventional web browsers like Chrome and Firefox make no effort to conceal your location or identity, Tor is built upon the idea of preserving anonymity as aggressively as possible.

What is Tor?

Tor, originally an acronym for “The Onion Router,” is an anonymity network designed to keep your identity and location completely secure as you browse the web. When you use the Tor browser (a free download), volunteer servers around the world route your internet traffic from server to server before finally delivering you your content. On top of this evasive routing, data is encrypted a number of times as it travels to you.

Exploring the Deep Web

Michael Bergman of BrightPlanet puts it succinctly: “Searching on the Internet today can be compared to dragging a net across the surface of the ocean. While a great deal may be caught in the net, there is still a wealth of information that is deep, and therefore, missed.”

Using the Tor browser unlocks the door to a whole weird and wild world you never would have guessed existed online. Where Google helps you find the needle, Tor lets you “explore the haystack.”

There is lots of promise in Tor’s value – people use it to protect their communications, to research sensitive topics, and to access information they might otherwise not have access to (if a country is behind a firewall, for example). By guaranteeing such a high level of anonymity, Tor lends itself well to information freedom activists, libertarians, and those who simply want to take their Internet safety to the extreme.

But with such anonymizing power made available for free, some less-than-legal (and even downright malicious) operations claim to operate successfully.

The Dark Side of the Deep Web

There are several websites claiming to offer some crazy goods and services through Tor:

  • Silk Road is dubbed the “Amazon.com of drugs.” Gawker published a story on the site. Through Bitcoin, a secure and anonymous digital currency that can be exchanged for real money, vendors are able to set up shop digitally and sell their wares through the U.S. Postal Service. (It’s important to note that Bitcoins are cash equivalents, so if someone rips you off you have no recourse.)
  • EuroArms sells and delivers weapons (without ammunition).
  • You can hire assassins through a service called “White Wolves.”
  • Child pornography is readily available through countless sites.
  • The Human Experiment details medical experiments performed on people against their will.

Click here to jump straight to our tour of the Deep Web >

Should we shut it down?

It depends on how you look at it. Just because the Deep Web is a place where the id tends to run wild doesn’t mean others aren’t finding legitimate and creative uses for it:

  • Young & Sick is a Los Angeles-based fashion, art, and music project that released its newest single, “Continuum,” via Tor earlier this week. 
  • Originally developed for use by the Navy, Tor has plenty of military applications in how it protects communications and intelligence gathering.
  • WikiLeaks provides users with means to upload documents anonymously.

Despite being around since 2004, Tor’s ability to keep our online identities secret seems to only just recently be coming to public light. 

The Hidden Wiki catalogues several Tor sites that would otherwise be impossible to find. It shows you a number of sites claiming to offer things for sale, both legal and illegal.

It also points you towards where to buy drugs or even download the new Young & Sick song.

We'll let this one speak for itself.

If you've heard of it, you can probably get it here.

With one Bitcoin currently worth roughly $40, acid ranges in price quite a bit.

You don't necessarily need to buy your drugs through Silk Road, though. Paradoxum has set up a solo storefront.

Once again, plenty of drugs are readily available.

Buttery Bootlegging is a site in which you basically hire someone to steal for you.

Want to buy credit card information? You're in luck.

The more you spend, the more data you get per credit card number.

You can get information as specific as someone's phone number and social security number.

Want a fake ID? Piece of cake.

Here's a sample Romanian passport that can be yours for the right number of Bitcoins.

EuroArms will sell you weapons, but notice that they ship without ammo.

C'thulu is a service that will kill someone for you.

It costs $20,000 – half up front, half upon completion.

A description of their services.

Its prices vary depending on who the target is.

If you'd like to get in on betting on fixed sporting events, you can even do that through Tor.

It's a hefty initial investment, but if it works, it seems like it would pay off.

Want to scare the hell out of someone and send a SWAT team to his house? Here's how.

You can buy counterfeit money as well.

$100 in fake bills costs approximately $52.

The Human Experiment strikes us as fake, but if true, it's a place where medical professionals detail their experiments on unwilling patients.

This one got gross quickly.

For those ESPECIALLY concerned with protecting themselves, there's even a Bitcoin laundering service.

And here's the Young & Sick page, where you can download its newest single. A welcome change of pace.

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