Gallery: The top Dark Web search engines

How to search the Dark Web

What do freedom fighters, unscrupulous hackers, and opportunistic tycoons have in common? They all use the Dark Web, and they all want traffic.

Though the Dark Web can be a haven for illicit activity, the encrypted internet is also home to innovative startups and creative technologists. There's also a ton of fascinating, and legal, content on the Dark Web, including Facebook's Dark Web site, The New Yorker's source protection site Strongbox, and tons and tons of cats.

SEE: Three ways encryption can safeguard your cloud files (Tech Pro Research report)

Dark Web sites, like those in this list, require the Tor browser to access, but just like the clearnet, thousands of sites are indexed by and accessed using search engines. Some search engines, like Grams and Helix, have slick design. Others, like Torch, are bare bones and return a variety of URLs, some legal and useful, some broken, some clearly illicit.

This is a list of the most useful, popular, and interesting Dark Web search engines.

Before you hop on Tor and begin poking around, novices and experts alike should exercise care and caution when visiting the Dark Web. Though many of these sites return benign content, much of the Dark Web is NSFW. TechRepublic does not condone illegal or unethical activity. Offensive material can sometimes be just a click away. Browse at your own risk. Never break the law. Use the Dark Web safely, and for legal purposes only.

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Image: Dennis van de Water, Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Dan Patterson

Dan is a writer, reporter, and producer. He is currently a reporter for at CBS News and was previously a Senior Writer for TechRepublic.