What are Deep Web, Dark Web, and Darknet? How do they differ and what can be found on them?
Commonly accessible, everyday-used services are just the tip of the iceberg of the Internet's resources. The majority of the Internet is hidden and cannot be accessed through a regular browser. When talking about the hidden network, terms such as Deep Web, Dark Web, and Darknet are usually mentioned. What are the differences between them, and what do they exactly mean? We explain it in the article.
For most of us, the Internet is associated with an open network available to everyone. However, there are areas of the Internet that the average user does not reach. This space is called the Deep Web, a place where access is limited for various reasons. This does not mean, however, that the Deep Web is used only for illegal practices... On the contrary, we use the Deep Web more often than we think. The Dark Web and Darknet are responsible for the dark side of the force.
Let's start from the beginning - what is the Surface Web?
The Surface Web is the actual surface of the Internet. It is called the visible or shallow network. It is an indexed network that can be accessed through standard browsers.
We use the Surface Web every day, watching videos on YouTube, using social media, or reading our favorite news portal. It is assumed that the visible network is only 4% of the entire Internet (!).
Let's go beneath the surface - what is the Deep Web?
The Deep Web (or Deepweb) in English means a deep network. It is also called a hidden or invisible network. It is part of the global network. It cannot be accessed through popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing because the content of the deep web is not indexed by bots.
The Deep Web consists of resources for which access has simply been made difficult. A significant portion of the Deep Web consists of harmless resources that protect their content from unauthorized persons. The size of the Deep Web is estimated to be 96% of the Internet.
What can be found in the Deep Web? Examples of Deep Web content include:
- Websites blocked for search engine robots
- Pages that require registration or payment for access
- Internal company services and websites
- Password-protected accounts
- Academic resources
- Government documents
- Websites that archive old versions of web pages
- Technical backends of websites
- Email interfaces
- Access to online banking
- The Dark Web.
Let's go deeper - what is the Dark Web and Darknet?
The Dark Web (or Darkweb) is a small portion of the Deep Web (also not accessible through standard web browsers). Access to the Dark Web is enabled by the Darknet, which is made up of many dispersed, anonymous nodes (such as Tor, I2P, or Freenet).
The Dark Web was designed to maximize user anonymity by hiding information about their location, IP address, and activity.
What can be found in the Dark Web and what can be purchased there?
The Dark Web is commonly associated with illegal activities, such as drug and weapon trading, and pornography. It contains websites, forums, and online shops that allow users to purchase items like fake documents. Despite its bad reputation, it's estimated that roughly half of the Dark Web's content is legal.
In the Dark Web, almost anything can be purchased, from counterfeit luxury clothing to fake IDs, weapons, and drugs. There are also rumors of human trafficking and contract killing services, but these should not be taken entirely seriously as many Dark Web offers are just scams.
How to access the Dark Web?
Accessing the Dark Web is not difficult and does not require specialized skills. However, one should consider the purpose and legitimacy of such action.
To browse Dark Web content, one needs to download and install the TOR browser. This browser is actually a modified version of Firefox. It uses multi-layer encryption and provides privacy for data transmission and hides the IP address. The address entered directly into the browser bar looks slightly different than those commonly used. It is a string of characters with the .onion suffix, such as http://al56mfk8d10jjd.onion.
Is using the TOR browser and accessing the Darknet legal?
Increasing awareness of privacy is causing growing interest in the Dark Web. Installing the TOR browser and using it is legal. However, it should be kept in mind that some activities in the Darknet may have signs of prohibited activities, not to mention participation in illegal activities or transactions.
The Dark Web is under constant surveillance by authorities. In Poland, the Department for Combating Cybercrime is responsible for monitoring users and content in the dark network.
By the way, even though TOR is a publicly available browser, in the corporate environment, it is worth obtaining the employer's consent.
Safety while using the Dark Web
It should be remembered that in addition to legal consequences, there may also be damages in the form of viruses and data loss. The Dark Web is not free from cybercriminal activity. Hackers are particularly active in this area. Therefore, it is worth using separate hardware for accessing the Dark Web, which does not store data that may fall into unauthorized hands.
Was Dark Web created with criminals in mind?
The idea behind the creation of the Dark Web was to provide a place that guarantees privacy and anonymity when transmitting data. There are also theories that suggest the dark web was created to better monitor criminal environments.
The Dark Web is used in totalitarian states where there is no access to the press or social media. Journalists and individuals associated with politics also use the darknet to smuggle information that they could not share with the public in a traditional way.
The Deep Web as a tool for data acquisition
The Deep Web is also used to obtain information about private individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies. Special services, as well as detective agencies and OSINT companies, use it to collect data on the IT infrastructure of a company and determine an organization's susceptibility to cyberattacks.
A few words in conclusion
This article was created for educational purposes and was not intended to encourage the use of Dark Web resources. We want to emphasize that we do not endorse any actions that may have any elements of illegality.