You might well have heard people talk about the deep web or dark web before. Usually both of these terms are used to describe some kind of mythical and of-limits internet that most of us can’t access. They tell us that the dark web is the seedy underbelly of the internet and we should avoid it, because it´s criminal to even look at it. Learn about the real meaning of deep and dark web.
Summary: 5 Minutes read, Level: Advanced
There is an element of truth in this, but part of the story is inaccurate. The deep web and dark web are actually not even the same thing – they are both completely different entities. Read on to find out the difference between the two terms and how you can use the deep web.
The examples we gave in the introduction are just a few of the things the average man in the street thinks about the deep web. The deep web is nothing to worry about. The dark web can be. The dark web is actually a part of the deep web and it accounts for around 0.01% of the whole thing. All the stories of nefarious activity really apply to the dark web, not the deep web, if they are even true at all. Avoid the dark web and everything will be fine.
The deep web is kind of like an even bigger internet, if you can imagine that. Think of the whole internet as an ocean. The top of the ocean is where you find Google (handily this is actually called the surface web) and everything beneath the water is like the deep web. The dark web would be some small, murky part beneath some rocks on the sea bed.
The content we normally see comes from Google or a similar search engine and is part of the surface web. The deep web is full of content you won’t find on a search engine and we do actually access this without even realising it on a regular basis.
Examples of deep web content we might regularly see is social media pages such as Twitter and Facebook or your online banking page. A staggering 96% of internet content is found on the deep web.
The fundamental difference between surface web and deep web content is that deep web content requires some form of security, such as a password. Surface web content requires no login, has no security and is available for absolutely anyone to see. Most deep web content will not be shown in search engine results on the surface web.
Now that we’ve established the difference between the deep web and dark web, we need to warn you of the dark web perils. It’s not the dark back alley of seediness it’s portrayed as, but the dark web is not without risk. Luckily it’s not that easy to access. Typing ‘take me to the dark web’ into a search engine will do no such thing and that’s good.
The reason there is so much criminality on the dark web is because it offer users total anonymity, birth for their personal identification and their location. It is said to be virtually impossible to police and any criminals on the dark web are unlikely to ever be caught.
It is said that 50% or more of dark websites are engaged in criminal activity. This isn’t necessarily as sinister as organ harvesting and human trafficking, but could involve a company which is evading tax or an individual selling copied reproductions of high street fashion items.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some truly terrible people there, but the dark web also has its uses. Political activists and journalists can also use it. That might not seem like a big deal for those of us who live in Western democracies, but it’s a huge deal in some parts of the world. Some countries still imprison journalists, truth tellers and forward thinkers and they need a platform. Thanks to the dark web they can do this without fear of retribution due to the platform’s anonymity.
You would think that such a platform which allows criminal activity and is more or less unpoliceable would be shut down. Shutting it down might not be the worst idea. It would end a lot of criminal activity. The problem is who owns it. The dark web was created by the US Navy and is still funded by the country’s government. What it was created for is something of a mystery, but it’s obviously important if it remains active.
So the dark web is not considered illegal. Nor is accessing it illegal. Even though it may contain illegal content, there is no law against looking at it. It might seem like some kind of bizarre paradox, but it’s totally true. As long as you don’t engage in any criminal activity on the dark web you are completely fine.
It’s important to remember that the deep web and the dark web are two completely different things. Next time somebody tries telling you about criminal gangs roaming the deep web, you’ll be able to correct them.
Remember that the deep web is something that most of us use every single day and the dark web, perhaps as its name suggests, is the one to avoid. There is a huge difference between the two and it’s an important one.
If you do decide to dare to explore the dark web you should be very careful. Your usual antivirus software might not help you and if you get into any trouble you could be on your own. All internet use should be performed with care and it is really recommended that you stay away from the dark web or any websites whose safety cannot be guaranteed.