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Aug 15, 2023
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Top 5 Dark Web Search Engines

Shadowy depths of the internet, where anonymity reigns, and curiosity intertwines with caution. In this blog post, we delve into Dark Web search engines. Hidden from the prying eyes of mainstream search giants, these enigmatic tools allow users to access an alternative realm of the internet, where secrecy and privacy take precedence.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo, a well-known search engine, is often likened to Google for its effectiveness in scouring the dark web. Commonly recognized as one of the top private search engines, it comes as the default option on TOR browsers, but of course it can also be used in other browsers. Sporting a user-friendly interface, DuckDuckGo showcases a search box at the center of its page, presenting search results in a format similar to Google’s. Beyond just being a deep web search engine, it also successfully operates on surface websites.

duckduckgo
Figure 1. DuckDuckGo

What sets DuckDuckGo apart is its strict no-log policy, ensuring that user search history and data are not recorded or collected. This makes it a formidable search engine and an essential tool for safeguarding privacy when coupled with a dedicated private browser. However, it’s worth noting that DuckDuckGo may display fewer dark web search results than other search engines. Regardless, it remains a reliable option for those seeking privacy and security in their online explorations.

DuckDuckGo’s search query
Figure 2. DuckDuckGo’s search query

Torch

Regarded as one of the most renowned dark web search engines, Torch has earned its reputation for being one of the pioneers in the field. It is also relevant in 2023 as the first recommended TOR search engine in various forums. It diligently crawls and indexes onion sites on a daily basis, yielding one of the largest numbers of onion search results. With a user-friendly interface reminiscent of Google’s, Torch offers a sense of familiarity and loads swiftly, enhancing the overall user experience. Thanks to its extensive search library, Torch emerges as a top choice for exploring the dark web.

Torch Engine
Figure 3. Torch Engine

However, again it’s essential to exercise caution, as Torch, like many other dark web search engines, doesn’t apply website filtering. This increases the possibility of encountering malicious web pages or harmful content during your exploration. 

Torch’s search query
Figure 4. Torch’s search query

Ahmia

Ahmia, which received backing from the TOR project in 2014, boasts top-tier filters. Its primary objective is to meticulously cleanse search outcomes originating from the TOR network. Its objective is to eliminate fake or unsafe websites that might contain malware, promoting a safer exploration of the dark web. It facilitates easy searches on the dark web, making it more accessible to users. Interestingly, Ahmia even allows deep web searches to be conducted through regular web browsers.

Ahmia search engine
Figure 5. Ahmia search engine

Moreover, Ahmia goes beyond being just a search engine; it offers additional features such as statistics, insights, and news related to the TOR network. This makes it an incredibly valuable tool for anyone venturing into the dark web. Notably, Ahmia stands apart from other dark web search engines due to its strict policy against “abuse material,” allegedly blocking such content from appearing in search results.

Ahmia’s search query
Figure 6. Ahmia’s search query

Ahmia also has a clear web URL and redirects to its own onion link for a safer connection through this website.

Haystak

Haystak search engine
Figure 7. Haystak search engine

With billions of indexed pages of dark websites, Haystak proves itself as a dominant player among dark web search engines. Operating on a freemium model, the choice to enjoy an ad-free experience and access premium features comes at a cost. Like DuckDuckGo, Haystak prioritizes privacy, ensuring that your data remains untainted by tracking and profit-seeking practices. This further solidifies Haystack’s reputation as a privacy-friendly choice on the Tor network.

Haystak search engine
Figure 8. Haystak search engine

Not Evil

Not Evil serves as a dark web search engine accessible through TOR, making it an excellent gateway to TOR-specific search tools. The name “Not Evil” cleverly alludes to Google’s former motto, “Don’t be evil,” and unlike Google, it does not engage in advertising or web tracking practices.

Not Evil search engine
Figure 9. Not Evil search engine

It presents a basic setup comprising a search bar and a compilation of outcomes sourced from TOR servers. However, there’s a level of complexity beyond initial impressions. Users oversee the search outcomes, allowing them to signal inaccurate or deceptive results or label websites as “abusive.” The search engine also takes proactive measures against content such as child pornography, a positive aspect that aligns with its intended purpose.

Not Evil’s search query
Figure 10. Not Evil’s search query

Bonus: The Hidden Wiki

Although not officially a search engine, The Hidden Wiki earns its place here for its assistance in exploring the dark web. Operating more like a directory, it organizes indexed links, streamlining the dark web exploration process. While it diligently blocks many malicious sites from its directory, like all dark web search engines, some shady sites manage to find their way onto the list. The Hidden Wiki serves as the dark web version of Wikipedia and simplifies navigation on TOR with its directory. It offers categorized links to both .onion websites and surface web links, making it a useful resource despite not being a traditional deep web search engine.

The Hidden Wiki
Figure 11. The Hidden Wiki

Unlike completely unrestricted search engines, The Hidden Wiki utilizes filters to block various scam sites present on the dark web. Nonetheless, it does index certain questionable sites that might be restricted by Google.

Conclusion

From well-known search engines like DuckDuckGo, which prioritizes user privacy and security, to unique resources like The Hidden Wiki, acting as a directory for dark web links, each search engine offers distinct features and advantages. While some search engines diligently block malicious sites, others, like Torch, provide an extensive index of onion sites without filtering, necessitating caution during exploration. 

As a result, they all have different advantages and disadvantages and serve other purposes. But you have a helper in this challenging environment. Thanks to the Dark Web Monitoring service provided under the SOCRadar Digital Risk Protection module, we can be your eye on the Dark Web. 

SOCRadar offers a comprehensive Dark & Deep Web Monitoring solution that empowers organizations to detect and neutralize threats across the surface, deep, and dark web. Through our unmatched reconnaissance capabilities and thorough threat analysis, we provide valuable insights to help you proactively fortify your organization’s security. Combining automated external cyber intelligence with a dedicated analyst team enables SOC teams to gain control over the external world beyond their boundaries.

SOCRadar Dark Web Monitoring
Figure 12. SOCRadar Dark Web Monitoring