What is the Deep Web?

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You’ve probably heard the terms “Deep Web” and “Dark Web”. They are not the same thing.

Deep web


In general, there are 3 internets, or 3 “webs”.

The first one is often referred to as the Clear Web. It’s also called the Surface Web. This is the internet that most people use every day – Google searches, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, seeing what’s on a website. The Clear Web consists of the stuff that anyone can access with a regular web browser such as Chrome. It’s content that’s available to the public. This is, of course, the most popular web as it’s something just about everyone uses.

The second one is the Deep Web. Most likely, you have used the Deep Web as well. It consists of content that is hidden – and “hidden” can mean different things. The content might be your online bank account, and of course that is hidden by your password. The general public can’t go to your bank’s website and see your personal account, because it’s in the Deep Web and requires your password. Same thing for your Facebook account – only you can log in and post things on your Facebook account. This also applies to online forums where you have to register in order to post something. And it’s becoming more common to see newspapers put their content on the Deep Web, behind a paywall. This information is still accessible, but only to those authorized to see it.

The third web is the Dark Web. If you think about the internet in general as a big city, the Dark Web would be considered a really bad neighborhood. It’s not a place you want to go. This is where most of the illegal online activity takes place, including:

  • buying and selling illegal drugs
  • buying and selling of malware and viruses
  • terrorist forums
  • pedophile groups

So you might be thinking – if the authorities know that all of this takes place on the Dark Web, why don’t they just go there and find these people and arrest them? Well, it’s not that easy, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The Invisible Internet Project provides hosting of this content anonymously. So the servers that store the information cannot be accessed (at least not through traditional methods).
  2. The Onion Routing project allows people to access the internet anonymously. They do this using a special web browser (called the Tor browser), which hides your IP address. Your connection bounces around at points all over the world before it actually lands on the server with the illegal content – so there’s no way to trace that access back to you.

And of course, most of the buying and selling on the Dark Web is done using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin – which is also essentially anonymous.

So, you use the Clear Web probably every day, and you probably use the Deep Web fairly often. But I’ll bet you haven’t accessed the Dark Web. I haven’t either – and I really don’t have any plans to.

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