When you realize that there’s a huge part of the Internet that remains hidden from regular search engines, you’ll be tempted by curiosity. But is it illegal to access the deep web? And are you within the bounds of the law when taking sneak peeks? 

It’s prudent to arm yourself with the right tools when surfing the deep web, but what’s more crucial is to understand what the deep web is all about. It may sound surprising, but the deep web isn’t all evil and bad as most have imagined. 

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

What is the Deep Web?

The deep web implies the part of the Internet that is inaccessible by the search engines. Typically, this involves medical records, financial records, web archives, academic journals, and websites that are intentionally made not to be crawled by the search engines.

Chances are, you’re already accessing the deep web without realizing it. When you’re logged on to Facebook, you are accessing parts of the internet that aren’t indexed by the search engines. But for other obscure parts of the deep web, you’ll need the TOR browser

However, the deep web is often confused by the notorious dark web. The dark web is a tiny part of the deep web, and it’s made up of websites that are designed for total anonymity. It attracts illegal websites such as those involved in drug dealings, weapons, child pornography, and hitmen.

With that said, the dark web is also the perfect place for journalists and whistleblowers to operate as it’s free from the prying eyes of governments. 

Is the Deep Web Safe?

Just like the surface web, where most people spend their time, the deep web can be safe or treacherous for users. Browsing through archived academic records on the deep web is unlikely to pose any threats. The same goes for checking your emails, which are part of the deep web.

But when you venture into the unknown, particularly the dark web, your risk of being infected by malware, hacked, or flouting the law increases. You’ll want to avoid clicking on unknown links as the deep web doesn’t prevent your device from getting infected with malware.

Is it legal to access the deep web?

The deep web may also be filled with marketplaces that are hidden from search engines. It’s advisable not to shop in such marketplaces to avoid being scammed by unscrupulous parties. 

As you dive deeper into the dark web, you could stumble upon purely illegal websites. While accessing the deep web is legal, ending up at sites dealing with child pornography or criminal activities can spell trouble. 

Despite the claim that the dark web is secured by the Tor network, researchers have managed to capitalize on such misconceptions to retrieve email accounts and passwords of unsuspecting users.

So, the deep web isn’t entirely safe, and it can be illegal.

How to Access the Deep Web Safely

Curiosity kills the cat, and heading into the deep web without the proper tools may land you in trouble. Follow these steps to access the deep web safely.

1. Download TOR Browser

The Tor browser allows you to access the deep web anonymously, and it’s essential to access sites with .onion postfix. It also automatically clear cookies and browsing history when you close the browser.

2. Use A VPN

While Tor keeps your identity hidden in the deep web, it isn’t totally secure. To reduce the risk of exposure and attacks, you’ll need to install a VPN. Using Tor over a VPN is a perfect combination for staying safe in the deep web.

Top VPN for the Deep Web

The best VPNs for accessing the deep web have a strict no-logs policy, kill switch, and do not suffer from IP/DNS leaks. Here are some of the top VPNs designed to work flawlessly with Tor.

1. NordVPN

It is an open secret that NordVPN is one of the safest VPNs around. NordVPN features Onion Over VPN, which allows you to browse the deep web and stay hidden from your ISP. You can use NordVPN with the Tor browser or channel the traffic safely to the Tor network within the NordVPN app.

NordVPN is based in Panama and has a strictly enforced no-logs policy to protect your privacy when surfing the deep web. You may read our NordVPN review to learn more!

2. CyberGhost

CyberGhost ensures total protection of its users’ privacy with military-grade AES-256 encryption. It doesn’t keep logs and features No-Spy servers that add a level of protection for deep-web users. These servers are based in Romania, which is beyond the jurisdiction of the 5-Eyes treaties.

The VPN app also has a sensitive kill-switch, which instantly terminates at the slightest disruption on the encryption. Look to our detailed CyberGhost review.

3. Surfshark

Surfshark is a VPN that you’ll want to consider when accessing the deep web. Its camouflage mode hides your device from ISPs, and the MultiHop feature allows multiple connections to different countries for additional privacy. If you’re in countries with internet censorship, the No Borders mode is handy to bypass the firewall.

With a clear no-logs policy and AES-256 encryption, Surfshark complements the Tor browser for surfing the deep web. The review is here.

4. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is built by the team that develops the safest encrypted mail system in the world. It is the VPN that allows you to dive safely into the world of the deep web. You can do so by connecting to Tor-optimized servers in the app. This will enable you to use regular servers to access .onion sites on the deep web.

Coupled with strong encryption, ProtonVPN protects your data and you will be safe throughout the sessions on the Tor network. More details in our ProtonVPN review.

5. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a highly-acclaimed VPN known for its speed and privacy. It’s located in the British Virgin Islands and practices a no-logs policy. While ExpressVPN doesn’t have Tor-specific features, it has a page that specifically promotes the use of using Tor over VPN. 

The combined speed, privacy, and the anonymity of Tor browsers make ExpressVPN a perfect choice for deep web browsing. We examined the service and create detailed ExpressVPN review .


The deep web can be a safe or disturbingly dangerous part of the internet. Accessing the deep web isn’t illegal, but visiting certain sites can put you at the wrong side of the law. Besides that, you can fall under the false impression that the Tor network is safe from any form of cyberattacks. 

While using Tor provides a considerable degree of stealth, subscribing to a VPN dramatically reduces the risk of an attack. Take no chances when accessing the deep web. Sign up to a VPN before launching that Tor browser.

Mark Coulman
About Mark Coulman

Cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy. Mark has more than 14 years of experience in creating and managing various reliable WEB applications for IT companies in the EU and the US. Loves 3-4 letter words like PHP, XML, HTML, CSS, DB2, ASP, CRM, ERP, SAP, etc.