What is the dark and deep web?

The deep web and dark web are two different things though they have very many things in common. In this article, we shall look at what the dark web is and what the deep web is in detail.

Deep Web Definition

Looking at it literally, the deep web is below the surface, but not completely dark. The deep web holds the content on the internet that’s invisible to search engines.

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The deep web consists of information that you probably wouldn’t want to turn up in a web search, for example:

  • Content of your personal email accounts, social media accounts, and online banking accounts
  • Data that companies store on their private databases
  • Content contained within scientific and academic databases
  • Medical records

Your accounts on the deep web contain a lot of your personal information that hackers might value. That’s one reason why it’s important to use strong, unique passwords on all your accounts.

Dark Web Definition

Also taken literally, the dark web is known for dark content, meaning, illegal and sometimes disturbing content. It operates with a high degree of anonymity. Here are examples of illegal things you can find on the dark web.

  • Stolen information. In case of a data breach, there’s a chance the accessed information will end up for sale on the dark web. You can also buy things like log-in credentials, hacked Netflix accounts, and more.
  • Illicit substances like illegal drugs are peddled on the dark web. You might also find toxic chemicals that can cause other types of damage.
  • Disturbing and dangerous items and services. Things like gore, murderers-for-hire, human trafficking, child pornography, body parts, counterfeit goods, and guns for sale can be found on the dark web.

Most of the financial transactions on the dark web use Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that helps assure buyers and sellers anonymity.

Conventional web browsers can’t access the dark web. Instead, the dark web  “Tor” servers, derived from “The Onion Router” which are undetectable from search engines and offer users complete anonymity while surfing the web. At the same time, website publishers are also anonymous thanks to special encryptions provided by the protocol.

When you access the dark web, you’re not surfing the interconnected servers you regularly interact with. Instead, everything stays internal on the Tor network, which provides security and privacy to everyone equally. Dark web website addresses end with .onion instead of the surface web’s .com, .org, or .gov, for example.


Related Article: How to safely browse the dark web


Accessing the dark web

Getting to the dark web is actually a lot easier than you might think. All you have to do is download a dark web browser, like the Tor browser. Once this browser has been installed on your device, it functions just like any other browser: type in a URL, and off you go.

It is worth noting that finding the material you’re looking for on the dark web is more difficult than using a search engine like Google. The dark web doesn’t have an index or ranking system to help you find what you need. There are things such as dark web search engines. One called the Uncensored Hidden Wiki offers some guidance to content on the dark web.

You can use the dark web for situational awareness, threat analysis and keeping an eye on what’s going on. You will want to know what information is available and have an external lens into the digital assets that are being monetized and this will give you an insight on what hackers are targeting.