The Tor Project recently launched a mobile version of its browser, allowing Android smartphone users to access the dark web.
The official mobile browser is still in an alpha testing stage and relies on the installation of Orbot, a Tor proxy for Android.
Tor is a free software platform developed by the United States Navy which enables anonymous communication over the Internet.
The software was released by the United States Naval Research Laboratory under a free licence, after which it was adopted by users worldwide to facilitate anonymous browsing and marketplaces.
Tor works by encrypting communication and bouncing it through a network of nodes run by volunteers around the world, making it impossible to determine the sender and receiver of information.
It also allows users to access the dark web, sites which cannot be viewed using conventional Internet browsers.
Orbot is the tool which connects your device to the Tor network, while the Tor browser is used to visit .onion links and browse the Internet through the proxy.
For this reason, you should start up Orbot first and press the “Start” button to connect to the Tor network before opening the browser.
Once you have successfully connected, start up the Tor browser for Android and attempt to navigate to any website – if the page loads, you have successfully connected to the Tor network.
The developers of the Tor browser for Android said they aim to remove the reliance on Orbot in an upcoming stable release.
For now, however, you will need both applications.
Browsing the dark web
The Tor browser can be used as a normal web browser while routing traffic through the Tor network and keeping you anonymous, but it can also be used to access the dark web.
While the “deep web” refers to parts of the World Wide Web not indexed by standard search engines, the “dark web” is deep web content which requires specific software or authorisation to access.
The dark web includes standard web platforms such as forums, cryptocurrency exchanges, and sites like Facebook, but it also contains everything from drug marketplaces and hacking services to illegal pornography.
There is a large amount of criminal content available due to the anonymous nature of the Tor network, and users should be aware that browsing the dark web could lead to encountering questionable content.
The easiest way to begin browsing the dark web on your smartphone with the above applications is to navigate to the Hidden Wiki.
This website contains a list of .onion URLs – special web addresses which point to websites hosted on the dark web that are inaccessible via normal browsers.