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Deep Web and Dark Web – What’s the Difference?

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ByHarper Stewart

Aug 10, 2023
Deep Web vs Dark Web: The Contrast
Harper Stewart
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The majority of people only have access to 10–20, or even 50, websites online. This little collection is primarily made up of Google websites and services. In reality there are over one billion websites on the internet, which are hosted on servers located all over the world.

The web isn’t complete even with those billion webpages. Many people think the internet we now use is only the top of the iceberg. In a way, the phrases dark web and darknet legitimize the existence of this hidden web, which the majority of people are not aware of. 

What is the Deep Web?

The area of the internet known as the “deep web” is not easily accessible through standard online surfing and is not indexed by search engines. It includes all the websites, materials, and information that are difficult for the general public to find or access.

The deep web contains a variety of material, including secret databases, password-protected websites, subscription-based services, academic resources, online banking systems, email accounts, and other sorts of data that call for certain authorization procedures or activities in order to access. 

Search engines are frequently kept from accessing this concealed material in order to safeguard private information, preserve user privacy, or only allow authorized users to view it. The “surface web,” which comprises websites and material that can be searched and accessible through search engines like Google, is far smaller than the “deep web.” According to estimates, the deep web may be far larger than the visible web.

It’s crucial to understand that the deep web is not necessarily unlawful or evil. A sizable amount of the deep web is made up of lawful resources, including academic publications, private business networks, health records, government databases, and more. However, certain areas of the deep web may include illicit information or enable criminal activity.

In most cases, special skills, credentials, or software outside of conventional web browsers are needed to access the deep web. In order to access websites over encrypted networks, users can utilize tools like Tor (The Onion Router), virtual private networks (VPNs), specialized search engines, or other methods.

The enormous area of the internet that is not indexed by search engines and requires certain steps or credentials to access is known as the “deep web,” in brief. It is far bigger than the surface web and includes a broad variety of material, including both legitimate and illegitimate sources.

What is the Dark Web?

It’s a distinct experience to use the dark web. It is a more secure area of the deep web where users may access websites that are encrypted. But only specific web browsers may access these websites. 

While some users of this encrypted environment utilize it to help safeguard their online identity and privacy, other hackers choose to exploit it for nefarious purposes. These nefarious activities are what give the dark web its deadly and filthy reputation. 

The following are some crimes you could come across when using the dark web:  

Of course, there are legitimate uses for the dark web as well. Some users access it to conceal their online behavior from governments, particularly those that block the internet or have a track record of imprisoning dissidents. The dark web may be used by journalists to connect with sensitive sources.

People may browse the dark web and communicate with others using the Tor Project and other comparable dark web browsers without worrying about their IP address, search history, cache, or cookies being recorded. These distinctive search engines were created especially for gaining access to the dark web. Contrary to popular belief, the dark web has a number of websites that aren’t related to illicit conduct. 

Key Differences Between Darknet and Dark Web

Additionally, many people who are familiar with the darknet mistake it for the deep web. These phrases, however, are entirely distinct from one another.

The Users

People use the deep web and dark web for different reasons. Here is the list of reasons of why people use the deep web:

  • Safeguarding internet accounts and personal data.
  • Protect databases.
  • Interact on social media.
  • Utilize educational resources.
  • Utilize subscription-based services.

The reasons why people use the dark web:

  • Engage in criminal activity.
  • Carry out police/military investigations.
  • Protest politically.
  • Anonymous internet browsing.

The dark web is frequently used by people to maintain their online anonymity. And it’s possible that the platform’s enhanced security may encourage crooks to utilize it for illicit purposes.

Size

Technically speaking, the dark web is a part of the deep web. However, it is impossible to accurately estimate how big and complex the dark web really is. According to some researchers, the dark web accounts for about 5% of all online material.

Due to the deep web’s open nature, it is simpler to provide an exact estimation of its size. On the deep web, there are over 200,000 websites. The deep web has 400–500 times more public data than the surface web does. 

Approximately 7,500 terabytes of data are hosted in the deep web, as opposed to roughly 19 terabytes on the surface web. In contrast to the one billion documents hosted on the surface web, the deep web is thought to house 550 billion. The deep web receives 50% more visitors on average each month than surface websites.

Access

Tools like the Tor Browser or the I2P network are necessary to access the dark web. To get around limitations, these technologies offer anonymous and encrypted communications. Users may access.onion URLs by using the Tor Browser, which was created as part of the Tor project. 

The Tor network protects user privacy and lowers the likelihood of monitoring by sending user data through nodes, which are encrypted servers. Cyberattacks often start from traditional web channels rather than the dark web since the dark web is purposefully limited. Tor offers a simple method for maintaining anonymity when accessing the dark web.

Users and the deep web are unfiltered. A website on the deep web may be accessed by any person with an internet-connected device and the appropriate set of credentials. The vast majority of internet users visit the deep web often. The deep web includes everything from email inboxes to social media profiles to the login pages of internet service providers.

It is important to note that some deep web pages include useful personal information for fraudsters. This information is protected to avoid compromise and potential sale on the dark web.

Applications

The primary use of the dark web is to give visitors and website operators anonymity. Websites that don’t want to be on the public internet, where they could be watched, can hide there thanks to the dark web. The usage of this anonymity does not always include criminal activities. For instance, political dissidents living under a repressive government may communicate via the dark web.

Whistleblowers who utilize websites like Wikileaks to expose secret material on the dark web may also be able to use it to their advantage. Using the dark web lessens their possibility of getting discovered. It’s interesting to note that even Facebook may be accessed through a Tor-hidden service, enabling users in nations where access to its platform is illegal to browse the website securely. 

This anonymity does, however, have certain disadvantages. It makes it possible for anyone to run websites that market stolen goods including narcotics, fake currency, false papers, and even guns and social security numbers. Typically, payment for these services is made with anonymous digital money like Bitcoin.

The deep web is often accessed by most internet users, as was already said. The following three are the main uses of the deep web:

The general public cannot access intranets, or internal networks, utilized by businesses and educational organizations. They can only be viewed with the right credentials and access to a certain VPN provider. Intranets are used by businesses for online tool hosting, internal communication, and documentation. Applications with a subscription model can only be used when the user has paid for them. 

Search engine crawlers cannot access this information because of the barrier. Examples include streaming services, paid news websites, and software as a service (SaaS) options. Even publicly accessible, free internet services fall within the deep web category. For instance, to read account statements on banking websites, consumers must first log in. Since search engines cannot access the material on the platform, even email services like Gmail are a part of the deep web.

Security

Applications with a subscription model can only be used when the user has paid for them. Search engine crawlers cannot access this information because of the barrier. Examples include streaming services, paid news websites, and software as a service (SaaS) options.

Even publicly accessible, free internet services fall within the deep web category. For instance, to read account statements on banking websites, consumers must first log in. Since search engines cannot access the material on the platform, even email services like Gmail are a part of the deep web.

Maintaining security procedures is essential when accessing the deep web, although it is largely secure and user-friendly. Protecting personal data is crucial, and using strong, unique credentials for each account is recommended. Practicing basic online hygiene, such as avoiding unprotected public networks for sensitive transactions, helps prevent security breaches. 

Users should also be cautious of phishing scams that attempt to deceive them into sharing sensitive information. In summary, deep web security primarily relies on common-sense best practices, unlike the high risks associated with accessing the dark web.

The Conclusion

In summary, the dark web refers to a specific area of the deep web that is purposefully concealed and connected with illegal activity, whereas the deep web is the umbrella term for encrypted networks functioning on top of the internet. Through specialized software, one may access the dark web, which contains websites and services that support illicit activity while simultaneously providing anonymity.

 
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Harper Stewart

With a deep understanding of the complexities of the Dark Web, Harper curates informative and thought-provoking content for our readers. Her knowledge of the hidden corners of the internet and cybersecurity helps shed light on the often mysterious and illicit activities that take place in this realm.