What Is the Deep Web and Dark Web and What You Can Find There
When you go online, your activity is usually limited to web pages, social media, and apps you can access via your browser. But in fact, the indexed content is just a tiny island in the ocean full of secrets and unexplored depths. Nearly 95% of the web lies beyond Google search results. For most of us, this hidden part of the Internet is known as the deep web or the dark web. However, there is a drastic difference between them.
So, what are the deep web and the dark web? What can you find there, and is it worth diving beneath the Internet surface? Let’s find out.
Main components of the World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a set of all web pages available through the Internet and connected by hyperlinks. It allows users to access online content, publish it, and communicate with each other. Simply put, the World Wide Web turned the Internet from an advanced scientific tool into a comprehensive network anyone can use.
The World Wide Web consists of two main layers: the surface web and the deep web.
The surface web is the part of the Internet consisting of websites indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. So everything you can effortlessly access when surfing the web, including social media, eCommerce stores, and other common websites, belongs to the surface web.
However, only 4-6% of the Internet is indexed by search engines. The rest of it is invisible to the users and known as the deep web.
Also, you probably heard something about the dark web. Many confuse it with the deep web, but the dark web is only a part of this hidden content, primarily associated with anonymous and sometimes illegal activities.
What is the deep web?
Let’s start with the basics and look at the deep web definition.
The deep web, also known as the invisible web, is the hidden part of the World Wide Web, which is not indexed by search engines. However, it has nothing to do with illicit activities. The reason why it’s closed to most users is different.
The deep web contains encrypted databases or websites used for the internal needs of a specific company, organization, or business. So search engines do not index such pages, and they do not appear in Google or Yahoo search results.
To interact with the content of the deep web, administrators and other employees should use a specific URL and pass verification using a password.
A brief history of the deep web
The deep web is directly related to the existence of the Internet as a whole. From the very beginning, the web has consisted of multiple layers, and most of them remain hidden from us. This idea was first described by computer scientist Mike Bergman in the early 90s and named “the invisible web.” Later, he changed the term to the deep web in one of his later studies.
Nowadays, the deep web is an integral part of our online activities, even though we do not directly interact with it. All your private information, including email inbox, Facebook messages, and banking credentials, is stored there so that nobody else can access it.
What can you find on the deep web?
As mentioned above, the major part of the hidden Internet consists of databases, web archives, and password-protected resources. Here are the most common types of deep web content.
1. Unindexed web pages
Search engine crawlers index websites containing links to other indexed pages. However, if a website doesn’t provide any links, the crawlers will likely fail to detect it. As a result, this page won’t appear in search results, remaining a part of the deep web.
2. Paid content
Many services, including the ones you probably use every day, fully or partly consist of paid content. For example, streaming services, like Netflix or HBO Max, are available only for subscribers. Such a business model uses the deep web to encrypt and hide content from those who don’t pay for the services.
3. Encrypted databases
This is probably the largest part of the deep web. Multiple organizations and companies hide their databases from prying eyes, making them available for internal use only. In particular, the following information is behind the locked door of the deep web:
- Email inboxes
- Private social media content
- Businesses’ internal databases
- Medical records
- Banking information
4. The dark web
The dark web is the most mysterious, shadowed, and often illicit part of the deep web. But what exactly can one find there? We are just about to explain.
What is the dark web?
Now, having learned the deep web’s specifics and purpose, let’s look at the dark web definition.
The dark web is the anonymous segment of the deep web that can be accessed only with the Tor browser. It is often treated as the most dangerous part of the Internet intended for various illegal online activities. However, many people use it to get more freedom and anonymity. Also, dark web sites can be very useful, particularly for transferring confidential information and avoiding strict censorship in totalitarian countries.
A brief history of the dark web
The history of the dark web started in the mid-90s when the US Naval Research Lab created The Onion Router (Tor). Originally, this software was supposed to protect American intelligence agents’ identities. Later, the core idea of onion routing was to provide a free, secure, and uncensored network, allowing for completely anonymous communication. In 2004, Tor became open to the public so that anyone could use it to enhance their online privacy.
However, at some point, people started using the opportunity of being entirely anonymous for illicit online activities, like illegal trading. The most famous example is the Silk Road, founded in 2011. Nowadays, this dark market is banned, while its founder was arrested by the FBI in 2013.
Even though the dark web is still often used with malicious intentions, it also allows people to surf the web without risk to their privacy. Today, the Tor project is a non-profit organization, receiving funds and donations from many organizations, including the US government. It’s run by volunteers working in many countries across the globe and serving the needs of over 2 million daily users.
What can you find on the dark web?
Although many people think of the dark web as the place for illicit activities, it is also used with good intentions. Here are the most common types of content available on the dark web.
1. Censored content
The citizens of totalitarian and authoritarian countries, where online content is often censored, can access the free Internet anonymously. It may include banned human rights websites, social media, and more.
2. Anonymous communication channels
Common emails are often a target for frequent malicious attacks, scams, and data exposures. In contrast, the dark web provides access to entirely anonymous communication channels often used by journalists to keep their sources in secret.
3. Unbiased information and news
In many countries, accessing unbiased Internet resources, avoiding internal propaganda, is challenging. So people use the dark web to get information from foreign media services. In particular, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter have anonymous clones with .onion addresses.
4. Black markets
Of course, the dark web is the most famous because of its illegal use, and we cannot ignore this. Black markets like Silk Road trade drugs, guns, forged documents, and other prohibited goods. That is one of the reasons why you should be very careful when browsing the dark web, even if only driven by curiosity.
5. Illegal and malicious websites
Many websites on the dark web aren’t indexed because they are dangerous for everyone who visits. They may contain malicious links, attempt to steal your data, or even spread malware to spy on your device.
Deep web and dark web. Key differences
To conclude, the deep web and the dark web are two different terms referring to distinctive types of online content. While the deep web is the majority of the Internet inaccessible to ordinary users, the dark web is a shadow it casts.
Let’s look at this difference in more detail.
|The Deep Web||The Dark Web|
|Size||The deep web is much larger than the surface web and takes up over 90% of the Internet.||The dark web is a small segment of the deep web and takes up nearly 6% of the Internet.|
|Access||You can freely access the deep web. However, the content is often encrypted.||You should use specialized Tor software to access the dark web.|
|Security||The deep web is entirely secure and perfectly legal.||The dark web is quite dangerous, so one should use a VPN when browsing it.|
|Browsing||You can use a common browser to enter the deep web.||You should use the Tor browser to start using the dark search engine.|
|Indexing||The deep web is mostly not indexed by search engines.||The dark web is never indexed by search engines.|
|Purpose||People use the deep web to store private databases and paid or encrypted content.||People use the dark web to enhance anonymity, access more content, and hide from third-party monitoring.|
|Examples||– Private email inboxes|
– Internal business databases
– Medical records
– Banking credentials
|– Illegal markets|
– Censored content
– Anonymous communication channels
– Malicious websites
How to access the dark web and the deep web
Even though the dark web and the deep web are invisible and more difficult to access than the surface web content, a journey to such depths is more than possible.
The deep web data is quite easy to access if you have the required permission level. Most of its content is encrypted and carefully protected, as it may contain sensitive or confidential information. For example, electronic health records are available only for medical workers and administrators of a particular hospital or medical center.
However, when it comes to the dark web, you will need to use specific software to access it. Also, it’s worth taking additional security measures to mitigate any security risks when visiting such a dangerous place. Let’s take a closer look at these tools.
As discussed previously, Tor is a dark web browser and the only way to access the anonymous side of the Internet. Tor uses the onion routing technique to provide a peer-to-peer network and ensure anonymous browsing. It’s possible due to multiple nodes that protect your data and prevent anyone from tracing your digital footstep.
So, to browse the dark web, all you need to do is install Tor from the official website. It will allow you to start your journey and explore websites with .onion domains. However, you need to be very careful along the way. The thing is that most dark web content consists of malicious websites and other potential threats to your online security. That’s why, to protect yourself from the dangers of the dark web, it’s worth using a reliable VPN tool.
A VPN is an app or a browser extension that makes your online activity more private and ensures top-notch security. It runs your data through an encrypted tunnel and provides a remote server to alter your actual IP address. As a result, your browsing experience becomes invisible to third parties, including your Internet service provider (ISP).
A powerful VPN like VeePN is a must when surfing the dark web. Such a tool will ensure no one even suspects you’re using the Tor browser.
Here are the key reasons for using a VPN when entering the dark web.
- Secure encryption. VPN encrypts your sensitive information and prevents potential leakage or data breaches, which are quite common on the dark web.
- Anonymous browsing. VPN enhances anonymity and ensures your online activity is hidden from prying eyes.
- Protection from malware. VPN protects you from visiting malicious sites on the dark web, so you can prevent your device from being infected by dangerous viruses.
Going beneath the Internet surface? – Arm yourself with a VPN!
To conclude, there is a big difference between deep web and dark web. The deep web is a broader concept referring to all non-indexed online content. The dark web, in turn, is an anonymous part of the Internet, allowing people to enhance their privacy. However, it’s also very dangerous to enter both the deep and dark web without an extra security layer. So we highly recommend using a VPN when exploring the Internet’s depths.
Looking for a VPN service you can trust? Check out VeePN! This powerful tool will boost your online security and anonymity. With VeePN, you can be sure that your online journeys are safe, thanks to reliable AES-256 encryption. On top of that, the NetGuard feature will protect you from potential cyber threats and block online trackers.
Is the deep web illegal?
All in all, it’s perfectly legal to browse the deep web. Most of its content has nothing to do with illicit activities. Using the Tor browser and entering the dark web is also legal in most countries. However, certain websites on the dark web, such as black markets, are outside the law.
What is the difference between the deep web vs dark web?
The deep web is the majority of the Internet hidden from the common users. Its content isn’t indexed by search engines, and most of it is encrypted. In contrast, the dark web is a relatively small segment of the deep web. It can be used for anonymous browsing, yet some adopt it for illegal online activities. The dark web can be accessed only with specialized Tor software.