The internet is a system consisting of interconnected networks full of all kinds of information, from cat videos on YouTube to millions of personal email accounts. One is part of what is known as the “Surface Web” and the other is part of the “Deep web”.
What is the Surface Web?
Imagine the internet as an iceberg. Most of what you browse on the internet is what is on the surface. This includes the cat videos mentioned above or Wikipedia. Basically, anything that you can find by the use of a search engine like Google is the surface web. Though that is obviously a lot of information, it is merely the tip of the iceberg.
What is the Deep Web?
The Deep web makes up approximately 90 percent of the Surface Web. Just like an iceberg, most of the information on the internet is stored below the surface. The information on the deep web can’t be found using standard search engines.
This includes information on websites that you access by providing a user name and password or some type of authentication. That means the contents of your personal email accounts, social media accounts and other data that companies store on their private database are found on the deep web. However, the deep web is also home to something darker.
What is the Dark Web?
The dark web is actually part of the deep web. So similarly to the Deep Web, the information here can’t be accessed by search engines and most of the information is encrypted. Moreover, IP addresses are masked making users anonymous.
The information here is purposefully hidden and can’t be reached using standard web browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Accessing any information on the dark web requires special browsers like The Onion Router or Tor. The dark web was originally used to protect data and information. For this, the U.S. Navy created the Tor browser.
The anonymity that the dark web provides, however, has given birth to new criminal markets like Silk Road. In the dark web, you can find stolen information, drugs, and illicit substances, illegal pornography, guns along with other disturbing and dangerous items and services.
Transactions in these markets are done using untraceable cryptocurrencies, which simply are digital or virtual currencies, like Bitcoin.
Though the terms “Deep web” and “Dark web” are sometimes used interchangeably, there is an important difference. The Deep web is useful for protecting and encrypting personal data. It would not be accurate to say that the entire deep web is the dark web.