The Internet, Deep Web, and Dark Web, Explained

Everyone who uses the Internet has probably come across the terms “Deep Web” and “Dark Web” at a certain point. These terms are thrown around constantly, everywhere, in news, TV shows and movies, but especially in articles that cover IT security, hackers, data breaches and similar World Wide Web related topics.

Since these phrases can be quite confusing for the average Internet user, we’ve created this guide that covers all the basics. 

The Internet

This is pretty straightforward. The Internet is a global system of thousands of networks. We use the good ol’ Internet on a daily basis to access various websites, check our emails, communicate via Facebook, Instagram, other apps, and etc.

The Internet is not one centralized place and it is not owned by one single entity. Rather, it’s a decentralized network of networks that consists of lots of networks run by companies, governments, universities and other entities.   

The most popular way to publish information on the Internet is the internet application known as the World Wide Web. Most people believe it to be synonymous with the Internet itself, however, that’s not the case, as there are other internet applications as well.

The computer programs used to view websites are known as web browsers, the most popular being Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and others. 

Web searches are carried out through programs known as web search engines that “crawl” through the Internet, search for content, index that content, and rank it so that they can provide the best answer to a search query.

The Deep Web

This is where it gets more complicated. The Deep Web is the portion of the Internet that is not indexed by the big search engines. While the contents of the regular web can be accessed by everyone through a simple search, the contents of the Deep Web cannot, as they don’t appear in search results. 

In order to access something on the Deep Web, a user cannot simply type in a search query and get there. Instead, they need the direct URL or IP address. 

The Deep Web is not necessarily a bad and malicious part of the Internet. A lot of common things such as online banking, web mail, private social media profiles, videos hidden behind a subscription fee, and etc. are included there as well.  

In simple terms, search engines have limited crawling and indexing capabilities, which is why they cannot index the vast space that is the Deep Web. 

The Dark Web

This is where it gets even more complex. The Dark Web is the portion of the Deep Web that is not only not indexed by search engines, but it also requires special software and configurations that use encryption to anonymize web traffic, in order to access.

Since these tools, which include Tor (“The Onion Routing” project) and I2P (“Invisible Internet Project”), provide anonymity to both users who access the websites, and servers where those websites are hosted, the Dark Web is often used for criminal activities. However, due to its privacy, it is also used by law enforcement organizations, cryptologists, journalists and other legitimate businesses and individuals. 

Despite the anonymous nature of the Dark Web and the inability to access it without specific software, it can still affect average Internet users. With the rise of corporate and government hacks, comes the rise of stolen information about regular users and companies for sale on the Dark Web.  

Every user and every company is highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, which is why we offer a Free Dark Web Scan here at Starfish. With this scan, you’ll either receive an ALL-CLEAR or an ALERT of your current risks in just 24 hours.