How to Google for the Dark Web

February 19, 2015 | Peter Yeh

The Dark Web is getting brighter and brighter each day. The news is abuzz with “Memex,” a Defense Department-developed Dark Web search engine. However, there are already two Tor search engines that you can use on the regular web to take a trip into the deep.

On both you still get the usual suspects of darkweb drug dealing, but Tor is used for more savory reasons, including evading censorship, and reporters anonymously reporting human rights violations in oppressive countries who’d much rather add a new violation than have the rest of the world know.

The first is Onion City, a San Francisco-based search engine, that uses a Google custom search and Tor2web proxy. The Tor2web proxy is an intermediary that sits between Tor’s darknet and the clearnet. The use of Google Custom Search means Google can see all of these as well. Currently there are over 5000 onion sites indexed on Onion City.


The second is Ahmia, an open source project first developed during Google’s Summer of Code and now part of the Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights. It too uses the Tor2web proxy, but does not use Google’s custom search. It uses its own OnionBot crawler and current indexes over 2000 hidden sites.


The “darknet” or “deepweb” is an all-encompassing term that includes private chat rooms, P2P networks, etc., but generally we’re talking about hidden or onion services on the Tor network such as the numerous Silk Roads and imitators. They’re inaccessible from the clearnet without either a Tor2web proxy service, which robs you of your anonymity. I took those screenshots by installing the Tor Browser Bundle. To be even more private, first connect to the Tor network via an anonymous proxy, while using Tails, a privacy focused live operating system that lives on a USB stick.

Happy Paranoid Browsing.

(Photo: Stian Eikland)