One of the dark web myths people often push is that hidden services—websites that take advantage of the Tor network—are largely undiscoverable.
But that's not really true. Proving this point, one website apparently lays out every single possible combination of characters that could make up a dark web site URL.
It presents "the longest and least useful onion index in the galaxy," the website, created by researcher Matt Traudt, reads.
Just to be clear, the site doesn't only list onion addresses that actually correspond to a currently up and running service, but also those that don't—at least at the moment—lead to a functioning site.
But obviously the vast, vast majority of addresses on the site do just look like a random series of letters and numbers and don't have any content behind them. In all, the list includes 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176, or one septillion, two hundred eight sextillion, nine hundred twenty-five quintillion, eight hundred nineteen quadrillion, six hundred fourteen trillion, six hundred twenty-nine billion, one hundred seventy-four million, seven hundred six thousand, and one hundred seventy-six hidden service addresses.
Motherboard did not confirm how many of those are currently online.
Of course, readers probably shouldn't take this list all that seriously. Indeed, Traudt said he put it together in an afternoon last weekend.
"People may think it is a stupid, pointless website. They aren't wrong," Traudt told Motherboard in an email. But with that being said, there are a few takeaways.
"Compiling a list of onion services is pointless because most are online 12 hours of the day for a week and then disappear," Traudt continued, adding that trying to make longer lists is going to end up containing more junk, and not more interesting content.
Another point is it does highlight that, even though the list is enormous, hidden services are discoverable.
"Therein lays an ancient truism of security: obscurity doesn't help," security researcher Alec Muffett, who has developed Tor-focused projects, told Motherboard in a Twitter direct message.
And ultimately, the list dispels the most pervasive dark web myth of them all: that if you keep visiting enough cryptic links, you're going to find some untold secret.
"People's inability to find interesting onion services is not because they're using the wrong list or using the wrong search engine or asking the wrong community. Awesome secrets and spooky media is no easier to find on the 'deepweb' than the regular world wide web," Traudt said.