Darkfail is a website that serves as a collection of links to hidden services sites (accessible via the Tor browser) on the darknet. It is hosted on both the clearnet and darknet. For years, darkfail has been considered the most-respected “bridge” between the surface web and dark web. Its administrator is an anonymous privacy advocate who claims to provide the service for cybersecurity researchers who want to track darknet site uptime. Most of the links on dark fail are to darknet markets, but it also contains links to other sites and darknet resources. The admin maintains an active presence on Twitter.
While darkfail is largely trust-based – meaning the user must trust the website to display legitimate links – the admin is considered to be highly trustworthy. It has had a positive reputation for much of its 4+ years in existence. In one particularly bizarre incident in April 2021, darkfail was compromised — its servers usurped in a social engineering hack to perform a “man in the middle” attack in which all links were replaced by phishing links. This remains a one-off occurrence and may never happen again but goes to show the site is not infallible. If you have doubts, check their Twitter page for updates.
How it Works
Sites linked on darkfail are continuously monitored with their availability status represented in three different ways:
- Yellow dot next to the link = site is currently reachable (up)
- Grey dot next to the link = site is currently unreachable (temporarily down)
- Grey and shrunken link text = site is offline (permanently down)
Clicking on a site title (such as the name of a darknet market) will bring up a page for the site’s home on darkfail. Here you will see the direct answer as to whether the site is accessible or not (“Yes” or “No” in big letters) as well as a full list of mirrors associated with the site.
Categories of sites hosted on darkfail include darknet markets, resource pages, other types of services (such as anonymity-based email services, VPNs, and coin mixers), entertainment, news, social media forums, and even the CIA’s official site on Tor.
The darkfail admin maintains a rigorous standard for inclusion for darknet markets that wish to have mirror links to their market included on the site. This includes provision of a PGP key and PGP-signed messages ensuring ownership of the mirrors to be included. Market admins must also provide a PGP-signed “canary” message that is updated once every 14 days. This serves as proof that the market itself is still in the control of the admin(s).
In all, dark fail is a must-use for any user or enthusiast of the dark web. It contains a constantly-updated, ever-expanding collection of links to some of the most popular sites on the darknet and is the go-to resource for those looking for a quick, trustworthy way to get to them. As mentioned earlier, using it is not 100% risk-free but it is near infinitely better than trying to find darknet market links from just about every other source on the clear web. In short, if you are looking to access a darknet site, don’t know the link and don’t want to get phished, dark fail is your best bet for doing so.