Accessing the Deep Web is rather desirable these days for a range of reasons, including anonymity, free speech, breaching geographical internet restrictions, getting away from the commercial internet and to engage in illegal activity. And while accessing the Deep Web via networks such as TOR is pretty straightforward it is important that you know what to expect and know how to protect yourself in an online land where "anything goes". This article is designed specifically for Mac users who want to use & stay safe on the Deep Web.
Step One: Download TOR
The first step in accessing the TOR underground network is to download the TOR software - To do this you must first download FireFox (as TOR is a Firefox extension), if you haven't already got it installed on your Mac (Click here to download Firefox if you haven't). Once you've downloaded Firefox you can download the TOR browser for Mac OSX here. Bear in mind that the TOR software is perfectly legal to own and use, and like anything else, it is only what you choose to use it for that makes it illegal.
Step Two: Take Precautions
The number of security precautions you need to take depends on what you plan on doing in the deep web - If you plan on engaging in illegal activity or even just visiting websites with illegal content it would be wise to take all of the security precautions given in this section. As you are on a Mac it is very unlikely that your computer will catch viruses, however it can still be compromised if you're careless. More important than your computer though is your privacy: You don't want law enforcement or dangerous criminals getting ahold of your location. So to maximise anonymity while browsing the deep web using TOR you should:
•Make sure all software updates for your Mac are downloaded & installed.
•Not download ANYTHING on the deep web, including seemingly harmless files such as PDFs.
•Go into your Mac's system preferences and make sure it's FireWall is turned on.
•Use a VPN signed up for using a fake name and an untraceable payment method (such as prepaid debit cards). By the way, if you're looking for a good VPN service, HideMyAss is a good one.
•Put tape over your Mac's Web Camera so that it cannot be used by hackers to spy on you.
•Shut down all other applications that use the internet (other web browsers, mail apps etc) while browsing with TOR.
Step Three: Browse Websites on the Deep Web
You are now relatively safe to browse any websites on the Deep Web that you wish. However unlike the surface web, which is conveniently indexed by Google so that we can access it, the vast majority of the Deep Web is not indexed by any sort of search engine or directory. This makes most websites on the Deep Web incredibly hard to get to - So here are a few sites that you can start with. Simply copy and paste the bolded URLs into the TOR browser's address bar and hit enter, like you would with a normal browser:
•The Hidden Wiki - Quite possibly the most famous Deep Web site, The Hidden Wiki is a great place to start for beginners on the Deep Web, as it contains many links to other sites: http://kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
•The Cafe at the End of the Internet - This Deep Web site is a simple forum that allows you to talk to other people on the Deep Web. It contains mostly newbies, so is a good place for you to start talking to people: http://4eiruntyxxbgfv7o.onion/snapbbs/237d0738/threadlist.php?PHPSESSID=fkprdubkiig7gbv3pp8uen39q3
•The Hidden Image Site - This is a simple service where people can upload and share images, much like Flickr or Photobucket on the surface web. It's very useful for sharing sensitive photos anonymously: http://wyxwerboi3awzy23.onion/1.html
•TorChan - Although obviously a much less active site, TorChan is a Deep Web version of 4Chan.org. There are many other "Chans" on the Deep Web, however TorChan is the most active, so is your best "Chan" to visit: http://zw3crggtadila2sg.onion/imageboard/
What to Expect on the Deep Web
To both keep yourself safe and reduce frustration you should know what kind of things to expect whilst you're browsing the Deep Web with TOR. So, what should you expect?
•Very slow loading pages. Since everything on the TOR network has to be routed through many nodes, the speed and bandwidth is VERY limited. This is why it's not a good idea to run torrents for large files via the TOR network.
•The use of a currency called "BitCoins". BitCoin is an open source currency that has no middlemen and cannot be traced - This makes it perfect for trading on the Deep Web, where people want to remain anonymous (usually because they are engaging in illegal activity). For more info on BitCoins, click here.
•Illegal activity out in the open. Since the TOR network is more or less anonymous, criminals have much less reason to hide their activity. Don't be surprised if you see illegal drugs, counterfeit banknotes, assassin services, child porn and humans (human trafficking) being traded out in the open, before your eyes.
•Unreliable websites. Because a lot of the websites on the TOR network are not hosted on professional servers, they may be unreliable and have a lot of downtime. Understand that a website on the TOR network may be up and running one day, down the next, then back up the day after that.
•Very old, "90s style" looking websites. The reason many of the websites on the TOR network look so basic and outdated is due to a couple of reasons: Firstly, many have in fact been around since the 90s or the early 2000s, and with none being owned by large companies and most not even turning a profit, the webmasters have few resources to upgrade with. And secondly, since the sites are so slow, they must be kept very simple or loading them in a reasonable amount of time would become impossible!