What Is the Difference Between the Deep Web and Dark Web?
The deep web and dark web are frequently confused terms that are used interchangeably but refer to different areas of the internet. The deep web is a portion of the internet that many people access every day without even realizing it. The dark web, however, is associated with criminal activity and is what most people think of when they hear about hidden websites only accessible with special technology. Many times, people use the term deep web mistakenly to refer to the dark web.
The dark web is a small portion of the deep web. Both are made up of encrypted websites. The internet as most web users understand it is referred to as the world wide web, the web, and by deep web users as surface web or clearnet. The surface web is the portion of the internet that is visible and accessible to everyone using common web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. The surface web is indexed by search engines like Google and has hundreds of billions of webpages. The deep web is not indexed at all and is much larger.
What is The Deep Web?
The deep web is a portion of the internet that is not indexed by search engines like Google, Bing, or Baidu. It is hidden by layers of security from surface web users. The deep web is also called the invisible web or hidden web. Some are known as Onion sites because of the Tor network. It is estimated that the deep web is about 500 times larger than the surface web.
What is the Deep Web Used For?
The deep web is a broad term for any part of the internet that is not for public view, but it is not as mysterious as the name implies. Your email provider, like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook email are part of the deep web. So are the web pages on your financial accounts or any web page you use to access personal information like a medical office web portal. If you go to your Google Pay account to check if you have payment methods saved, that is also part of the deep web. Most deep web websites require a password or other login credentials. Online services that subscribers pay for like streaming video or news services are hidden from the public and thus part of the deep web too.
What is The Dark Web?
The dark web is also hidden and also refers to portions of the internet that are not indexed by search engines and cannot be accessed using standard web browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari, or Mozilla Firefox. The sites are anonymously hosted and accessible if you know how to find them. Unlike the deep web, the dark web is associated with criminal activity. The dark web is a small part of the deep web that hosts websites that sell hacked personal data and credit cards, malware, identity theft, illegal drugs, and firearms sales. Although illegal activity can occur anywhere on the surface web, deep web, or darknet.
Other names for the dark web include darknet. Silk Road, AlphaBay, Pirate Bay were all famous dark web marketplaces. Silk Road dealt in illegal drugs and operated as a Tor hidden service.
Both the dark web and the deep web require specific, although readily available, web browsers to access them. Tor Browser and Brave Browser can be used for accessing surface websites as well as dark websites. Some sites may require virtual private networks (VPN) or authorization to access them. Deep web websites and darknets exist on small peer-to-peer networks, as well as larger networks like Tor and Freenet operated by organizations.
What is Tor Web Browser Illegal?
Tor Browser is a web browser used to access the surface web privately and also for accessing the deep web. Tor was created by the U.S. Navy and is still funded by the US Government. It can be used in countries that surveil and censor web traffic. Tor Browser is a popular choice for privacy advocates because it blocks third-party trackers including advertiser’s tracking. Web cookies are automatically cleared when a Tor session is closed. It also works for anyone who wants unrestricted use of the internet.
Deep web servers that are configured to only receive inbound connections from Tor Browser are called onion services and make up the Tor network of peer-to-peer servers. Onion sites are accessed through an onion address using Tor Browser. The URL does not reveal the server’s IP address which would give away its location.
Is Tor Web Browser Illegal?
It is not illegal to access the deep web or to use the Tor Browser. Without a VPN, your internet service provider will know that you are using Tor, Brave or any browser that you use on their network. It is, however, to engage in illegal activity no matter where you re on the web.
You need to know a bit about how to find a deep web website. Sometimes the onion URL is published. For example, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently started a deep web website. See the CIA onion site at ciadotgov4sjwlzihbbgxnqg3xiyrg7so2r2o3lt5wz5ypk4sxyjstad.onion There is, of course, an onion wiki to help you find deep web websites since they are not indexed by Google. Go to The Hidden Wiki at this onion URL: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers