How to access darknet markets

How to access darknet markets? This guide will share each step, with screenshots to help you find and access darknet markets.

I won’t leave you hanging there. Every security tip known to me is shared as well. This will help you avoid the law, blackmailers, honeypots, bad exit nodes and a lot more.

Contrary to popular belief, accessing darknet markets isn’t “hacker stuff”. It’s just as easy as accessing a social media or e-mail account that you’re familiar with.

Let’s get started then?

How to access darknet markets?

If you’re in a hurry, here are the steps for accessing darknet markets (hey, I’m saving you time, eh?):

  1. Download NordVPN.
  2. Launch NordVPN and connect to a secure server.
  3. Download Tor browser.
  4. Increase Tor browser’s security.
  5. Enter the onion address of any darknet market you wish to access.

If you’re not sure how to do some of these things, keep reading. I’ve explained in utmost detail everything you’ll need to learn in order to access darknet markets.

What are darknet markets?

I’m confident you know what darknet markets are. However, this section will attempt to explain darknet markets from a “technical” standpoint. Once you understand that, you’ll learn how to access darknet markets almost on your own!  

Darknet markets are simply websites which facilitate buying/selling of goods and services. These goods and services are mostly either:

  • Illegal
  • Illegally obtained
  • Restricted by governments
  • Or at times not illegal but rare.

Now, these darknet markets do not exist on the “clearnet”. The Clearnet is the normal internet that you or I surf everyday. The clearnet is accessed using Google Chrome/Mozilla/Microsoft Edge/Safari and so on.

The darknet market lives on the “darknet” (obviously). The “Onion Network” is the most popular network which hosts the darknet. In simple words, imagine the Onion Network to be a whole internet world by itself.

This internet world has everything that the clearnet does. This includes blogs, social networking sites, video streaming sites, sites for sharing files, and obviously, e-commerce which are these darknet markets.

Unlike the clearnet, it’s not as easy to trace the owners/servers hosting sites on the onion network.

Additionally, the onion network isn’t censored. Meaning, governments, law enforcement agencies or any third-party has almost no say or control on what can or can’t be hosted there.

This is why it’s the best place to host a marketplace for illegal trades.

In fact, none of these sites can be found using Google or other traditional search engines either.

You’d need special tools to access these darknet markets.

Let’s get started then?

Pre-requisites to access darknet markets

It’s a myth that you must be a tech-whiz in order to access darknet markets as shown in movies. That’s not true.

If you’ve basic knowledge on how to operate a computer, or launch a browser, you’re pretty much overqualified.

This network can’t be accessed using those traditional browsers.

In order to access darknet markets, you’ll need the following:

  • Tor browser
  • VPN (Recommended VPN: NordVPN )
  • A list of darknet markets.

What is the Tor browser?

The Tor browser is a free, open-source browser based on Mozilla Firefox’s code. As a result, if you’ve used Mozilla, you’d be in familiar territory. 

The websites (darknet markets in this case) on the onion network can only be accessed using Tor.

Although, more than the “accessibility”, Tor’s security and anonymity are what it’s loved for.

In the simplest of words, Tor hides your IP. A more technical explanation is, Tor uses “nodes” which are other volunteers on the network to route your traffic. As a result, the end-website never sees your real IP address.

Even the nodes responsible for routing your traffic do not know your real IP address, or the website you’re trying to visit. They only know their immediate predecessor and successor nodes.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so, here’s me trying to save a thousand words:

How to access darkent markets

Tor also “encrypts” your connection. AES encryption is used, arguably “the” strongest encryption on the planet. Again, this protects your traffic from being hacked or leaked.

Anyway, in order to access the darknet markets, download Tor.

Why do you need a VPN?

A VPN stands for- Virtual Private Network.

Let me make it simple? It’s a software which offers you a list of countries. Your real IP address is instantly replaced and masked with the IP of any country that you click on.

This lets you be anonymous on these darknet markets. If your IP can’t be connected to you, you can’t be held responsible for any of your actions.

Now, it is “technically” possible to access darknet markets without a VPN. All you need is the Tor browser and you’re set.

However, Tor has been hacked in the past. There also have been instances of malicious exit-nodes being setup for tracing users.

In a nutshell, just Tor isn’t enough. It may do when you’re simply browsing the dark web. However, when you wish to use the darknet markets, you need iron-clad security.

Using a VPN offers just that. It makes sure even if your Tor connection is traced back to your IP address, the revealed IP is still a VPN-IP and not your real address.  Here’s another graphic which explains VPN+ Tor for you folks:

Now, A VPN is a for-profit company (don’t ever use free VPNs, that’s suicide). Hence, VPNs go to great lengths to ensure the security and privacy of their users.

Unfortunately, not all VPNs are created equal. More than a dozen VPNs have been found to collaborate and share data with the FBI and other agencies. All of these VPNs “claimed” not storing logs, but they did.

This is why I personally use and recommend NordVPN. There are multiple reasons why I believe it’s unbreakable:

  • Publicly, independently, third-party audited “no log” policy.
  • “Onion over VPN” servers. Only NordVPN is offering dark web optimized servers for browsing the dark web and darknet markets.
  • Panama-based. It’s important as there’s no “Data Retention” law in Panama, unlike U.S/U.K and most other European countries.
  • Offers the very rare “Double VPN” feature, routes the connection via 2 IPs not just one.
  • WireGuard protocol, results in fastest speeds I’ve ever seen. Important because Tor reduces browsing speed. Without a fast VPN, browsing darknet markets would be a nightmare.
  • 24X7-live chat for any problems you may face.
  • 60+ locations (IP addresses) to choose from.

Do note that you can use any other VPN out there. However, most of them aren’t independently audited,  or are slow, or lack optimizations for the dark web. (I’ve used over 20 different VPNs and hence it’s more experience talking than opinion).

Hence, Get NordVPN before we start further.

How to access darknet markets?

By now, I hope you’ve got Tor browser downloaded and the NordVPN installed.

“Technically”, you’re ready. You can enter any darknet market URL on your Tor browser to access the darknet market. However, that wouldn’t be very secure.

So, we will increase Tor’s security, and choose the best VPN server before we begin.

Step 1: Increasing Tor’s security

Launch your Tor browser and go to the “options” page. You can click on the three horizontal bars on the top-right > “options”.

You can also directly enter “about:preferences” on the URL/address bar to reach the page.

On the options page, click on the “Privacy and security” tab. Scroll down on this page till you find the “Security” options.

Now, either select “Safer” or “Safest” option. Now, while I generally recommend going with the “Safest” option, that isn’t best for darknet markets. The “safest” option may cause problems when viewing listings or generating wallet addresses on darknet markets.

As a result, you may go with the “safer” option. Do note that it’s not as secure as “safest”, it’s more of a middle-ground between features and security.

Step 2: Choosing the right VPN server

With most VPNs, it’s a one-click process.

Simply launch your VPN, and click on a country. You mostly get a list of countries to choose from. Sometimes, a “map” too is provided.

Note that if you’re using NordVPN, go with the “Onion over VPN” servers. It adds more anonymity, security and privacy to your connection than normal VPN connections.

This is only applicable if you go with NordVPN. Almost no other VPN offers the “Onion over VPN” servers anyway.

Step 3: Finding Darknet Markets

Now that you’ve got your Tor secured, and VPN loaded, the only thing missing is the address for these darknet markets.

I did say earlier that you can’t just Google for darknet market URLs. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can do that.

Using link directories

Link directories are web pages with .onion links. These are compiled manually by the website owner(s).

Link-directories can be both on the clearnet, as well as the onion network.  Most link-directories will have dedicated sections for links to darknet markets.

Do note that these lists are completely controlled by the admin, hence, there’s a greater chance of you finding scam links here.

Also, these aren’t auto-updated as is the case with search-engines. Hence, you may find more dead links on link directories than on search-engines.

Bottomline, you’re bound to find links to darknet markets here.

Using search engines

Darknet search engines are search engines which index darknet websites. You can use them exactly like you use Google, Bing, or any other clearnet search engine.

E.g. connect NordVPN > launch Tor> enter this onto Tor’s address bar- “phobosxilamwcg75xt22id7aywkzol6q6rfl2flipcqoc4e4ahima5id.onion”

This is the URL for Phobos. It’s one of my favourite darknet search engines. You can simply search for “Darknet markets” on the search engine and it’ll get you hundreds of them.

Phobos isn’t  the only darknet search engine. You can also use:

Step 4: Actually accessing these darknet markets

At this point, you should have:

  • Connected NordVPN
  • Tor browser
  • A darknet market URL.

Now, paste the URL onto Tor browser’s address bar. (Eh, you already knew that, I’m sure).

Done. You should reach the market just like you visit any normal website. You can visit other markets simply by finding and entering the URL on Tor.

Step 4: Choosing the right darknet market

A lot of you would probably skip this step. Well, you shouldn’t. There are a number of precautions/aspects you must check before you visit a darknet market. Just because you found a link to a darknet market, doesn’t mean it’s the right market.

Because these are on the dark web, they’re the easiest, most favourite target for hackers and scammers. It’s very common for people to lose thousands of dollars on these markets.

In worst-case scenarios, people are even blackmailed or fall prey to honeypots (darknet markets setup by law enforcement agencies).

Now, there are two primary types of markets:

  • Single-admin markets
  • Multi-vendor markets.

Single-admin markets are fully controlled by the admin(s). They do not allow other sellers to sell here. There’s mostly no escrow. Also, the reviews/ratings can be manipulated by the market admin at will.

It’s best to go with multi-vendor markets. These are markets where any individual is allowed to list and sell products. The market acts as an “escrow” and facilitates safe trades. Any party can “dispute” a trade. Moreover, the reviews and ratings are more trustworthy and not controlled by the seller.

Here’s how to choose the right darknet markets:

  • Age: Make sure the market isn’t very new. New markets may exit-scam more easily than established markets. (Even established markets shock us at times, e.g. Empire Market!) You can find the market’s launch date on your dashboard/Dred/reddit etc.
  • No verification: Make sure the market isn’t asking for e-mail or cell verification. If you see this, get off the market immediately it’s most certainly a honeypot.
  • Payment modes: Try to go with markets which offer “wallet-less” payments. These do not require advance “deposits” to any centralized market wallet. Rather, they accept deposits for each order directly from third-party wallets. This minimizes the risks of the market exit-scamming with user funds.
  • Vendor verification: It’s best to use markets which offer extensive vendor profile data. You should be able to verify a vendor’s previous sales, disputes, reviews and other data.
  • Withdrawal policies: Some markets restrict withdrawals using various policies. Be sure to check that the market allows instant withdrawals without any backhand policies.

Security precautions for accessing darknet markets

So far, I’ve covered the “human aspects” of securing yourself on these markets. However, there’s a lot more to DNM (Darknet Market) security than just human verification.

  1. For starters, always enable 2-FA on your accounts via PGP. You’d need to have basic PGP knowledge in order to activate this. However, this would protect your account even if your password is hacked.
  2. Some markets also offer TOTPs. These are activated via Google Authenticator or other similar apps. These are simpler than PGPs.
  3. Always use the  “personal phrase/login phrase” when signing up on markets (when available). Darknet Markets are heavily phished. These login phrases help detect fake markets instantly.
  4. You need to be most careful when sending/withdrawing funds on these darknet markets. Always use a Bitcoin mixer/tumbler when sending or withdrawing funds.
  5. If and when you don’t use a mixer, at least use a non-primary wallet. Send funds from your primary wallet to a new, de-linked wallet. Only then send funds from this wallet to the market. However, this is almost useless and it’s best to go the mixer way.
  6. If the seller shows a problem and shares a different, third-party wallet than the market wallet, never send funds to the wallet. Only use market-listed wallets for deposits/payments.
  7. Lastly, when signing up, always use non-real, fake data. Do not use any username, password, nickname that you’ve ever used anywhere on the clearnet. You can and should use http://elfq2qefxx6dv3vy.onion . It generates an ultra-detailed, fake ID for free. You can save the info and use it for signing up on all darkweb sites, including darknet markets.
  8. If and when available, enable multisig transactions. They’re a bit complex to setup but totally protect your funds.
  9. Never use DNM links found on social media or newly created Reddit forums. Anyone can setup a fake site, share the link and run away with your funds.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m sure you’ve learnt how to access darknet markets by now, haven’t you? Before I wrap this up, let me answer a few basic, most frequent questions around the topic.

#1. Is accessing darknet markets illegal?

 This probably is the first question you’re asking.

No, “accessing” darknet markets is not illegal. You’re simply browsing a website. It may have illegal products listed but that doesn’t make it illegal either as long as you haven’t listed the products.

It does become illegal if and when you make an illegal trade. By that, I mean either placing a buy order for something illegal, or selling something illegal.

#2. Are all darknet trades illegal?

Not exactly. While most items on darknet are either illegal by law or illegally procured, it’s not “always” the case.

E.g. you may wish to get your own hacked account back, or hack into a crypto wallet which stole your funds. You may buy an antique piece which the seller may not wish to publicize on the clearnet and so on.

In a nutshell, trading on darknet isn’t illegal by default.  It completely depends on the product.

#3. Which is the best mode of payment on darknet markets?

As you may know, darknet markets use Cryptocurrencies as their mode of payment. This is because Cryptocurrencies are far more anonymous and private than any fiat currency on the planet.

It’s best to use Bitcoin or Monero on darknet markets. The other coins aren’t always accepted, and even when they are, they aren’t the most privacy-friendly.

#4. Do these markets offer dead-drops?

A darknet market would involve parcels, and parcels need to be physically delivered and picked up. This was a privacy-concern earlier. However, markets have advanced today.

I did see 2 different markets offer built-in deadrop features. In other words, these markets ensure anonymous delivery and pickup.

#5. Can I access darknet markets without a VPN?

Absolutely. But it’s like asking “Can I drive my car with my legs?” You sure can, it’s “technically possible”, just not as safe.

There have been cases of users being identified even after using Tor. However, there are no cases of users being identified when using Tor with a VPN (unless they used a free or fake VPN which shared data willingly with the law).

#6. Can you use other VPNs except NordVPN?

Again, “technically” you can. But, no other VPN offers the speed (because of WireGuard and NordLynx), security (because of “Onion over VPN” servers), audited “no log policy”, Panama-headquarters at this price (less than $3.50/month).

#7. Can I use other browsers except Tor to access darknet markets?

Not to my knowledge. I’m confident a few may exist. However, none have gained the user-base, popularity, trust or features as Tor did.

#8. Do you need a high-end computer to access the darknet markets?

Unlike what’s shown in the movies, no, even your grandfather’s computer can be used from the 1980s to access darknet markets. However, having a faster computer does help as you’d be running Tor + the VPN. And browser tabs always do need a bit of RAM.

#9. Is using Tor illegal?

Do note that Tor’s primary purpose isn’t to facilitate illegal activities. It’s to promote free speech and a decentralized internet.

Final words- How to access darknet markets?

If I’ve to sum it up, I’ll say all you have to do is- Install NordVPN >connect to the NordVPN > download Tor > Enter the darket market’s address. That’s literally all you need to do.

However, if you follow the security tips and tricks in this guide, you should be virtually invisible.

Let me reiterate, this guide on how to access darknet markets is solely for educational purposes. That also is why I didn’t share links to darknet markets directly. Taking part in any activity on any darknet market, both legal and illegal, will solely and exclusively be your own responsibility.