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You can buy pretty much anything you can imagine on the dark net, the hidden part of the deep web available only via specialized software. There are all sorts of marketplaces where you can look for everything from a hitman to bars of soap. Many of the sites operate much like Amazon or eBay, with product overviews and customer reviews to give you a better idea of what you’re buying and if a seller is trustworthy.
The dark net has become almost synonymous with illicit goods. In fact, online drug markets have only gotten bigger, in both volume and variety, since the fall of Silk Road in 2013, despite countless high-profile busts and scams. Now you can find pretty much anything you’re looking for, even if you’re never really sure who you’re dealing with on the other side.
If you’re hoping to score drugs or something else and have a high level of patience and tolerance for consumer and legal risk, there are certainly worse ways of doing it. The Daily Dot doesn’t recommend or endorse the purchase of illicit substances, contraband, or any other illegal goods. But if you’re curious how to buy things, in general, from the deep web, this guide will walk you through the basics.
1) Download Tor
Tor isn’t the only way to access the dark net’s hidden services, but it’s certainly the easiest and the best. Tor was originally developed with help from the U.S. Navy as a network of servers that allowed people to anonymously read the internet. Now it’s one of the internet’s strongest privacy tools, used for secure communication and for browsing the web anonymously.
Tor’s browser helps hide your identity by encrypting your traffic and sending through a series of randomly selected relays in the Tor network, so the data traces back to random Tor servers rather than you. Beyond the security benefits, there are some websites you simply can’t reach from a traditional browser.
2) Buy some bitcoins
If you’re going to buy anything on the dark net, you’ll need to invest in some bitcoins. There are several marketplaces online that you can choose from—and even some Bitcoin ATMs—but the easiest way to get started would be to simply go to Bitcoin.com.
3) Close every open program and open your VPN
If you’re reading this article, should probably be using a VPN in your day-to-day life to begin with. A VPN is a virtual private network that hides your physical IP address. While Tor offers great protection, it’s worth spending the extra $5 to further hide your identity.
Once you’ve got it downloaded and installed a VPN, close every open internet program and fire it back up. Use the OpenVPN protocol and connect to a city that’s far away from where you’re currently living.
4) Start up Tor and go to a store
Most of the dark net is surprisingly boring. You’re bound to stumble upon all sorts of broken links and abandoned storefronts as you make your way around. But there are a number of ways to search the dark net, including Grams, which is considered the Google of Dark Net drugs. There’s also DuckDuckGo, which boasts anonymous search, and Torch, and older but relatively reliable search engine.
5) Make an account
Make an account and make sure you write down all of the information. Password recovery is very complicated on these sites for understandable reasons. If you’re using your standard email address, you’re doing it wrong. You may need to make a couple of email accounts actually, in case an additional one is necessary for email password recovery.
6) Get shopping
Get shopping. Even just browsing for window shopping reasons can be entertaining. If you find something, you want simply hit purchase. If you have enough Bitcoin in your wallet, you’ll be taken to a confirmation page. We suggest using a PGP encryption tool to send your address to the seller. GnuPG is a great tool with an easy-to-understand tutorial if you’re new to PGP.
7) Set up a P.O. Box
Why would you go through all of the trouble of protecting your identity online only to have something mailed to your home address? Doesn’t seem like the best idea, right? Setting up a P.O. box won’t eliminate all of the potential risk—one of the most successful Silk Road drug kingpins of all time was brought down by oversights made at a post office—but it will surely help.
Worth noting: The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is hiring Investigative Analysts and Intelligence Specialists to specifically tackle the dark net drugs being distributed across the country using snail mail.
8) Make some tea and wait. Maybe think about what you’ve done
Once your purchase is completed, you’ll have some time to think about what you’ve done. Your package will take anywhere from a week to two months to arrive, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do to speed it up. Who are you going to complain to?
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.