The internet is a big place. And while it’s no longer the Wild Wild West it was in the 1990s; there are still some unsavory parts of it. More than anything, many people are spooked by the “dark web,” which is a hidden layer containing all kinds of illicit things. But what’s the deep web? And is it the same as the dark web?
You can sometimes hear the terms “deep web” and “dark web” used interchangeably. But they refer to two different places. This article explores the layers of the internet to give you a better sense of how they operate.
The World Wide Web
Remember the old days when you had to type in “www.website.com”? “WWW” stands for the World Wide Web. The internet is the global network of networks while the web is the information you access via the internet.
Put simply, the internet is the infrastructure while the web is the service. The World Wide Web (web for short) is not that big. Only 1% of the internet is the web. It means 99% of the internet is unindexed and not searchable by Google and other search engines.
What is the Deep Web?
More than 90% of the internet is the deep web lying right below the surface of the World Wide Web. Businesses, web developers, and websites deliberately tell Google not to index the information so no one can search for it. In fact, if you have a website, you can do this too.
Nonetheless, you can still find a lot of it by directly typing in a web address or having access permissions to view the site.
There is nothing scandalous or dangerous about the deep web. It’s pretty similar to the surface web but with a touch of more secrecy. That’s because it includes things like social media profiles, emails, subscription platforms like Netflix, and other sites requiring a form for access.
Some people can use it for malicious purposes too. They may try hacking accounts or harvesting personal information. Still, it’s usually pretty secure because of the complex URLs required to visit sites on it.
The Scary Dark Web
The dark web and deep web aren’t one and the same thing. The dark web is what people are talking about when they mention illicit online activities. It includes illegal products and services, including:
- Stolen account information including Social Security Number and credit card details
- Illegal drugs both pharmaceutical and illicit
- Fake identification and other documents
- Contact information for mercenaries and hitmen
- 3D Printing Recipes
- Scanned books
- Marketplaces like the Silk Road
There’s nothing illegal about accessing the dark web though it may set off flags with your internet service provider and the FBI. As you may have noticed from some of the items on the list, not everything on it is nefarious and dangerous. There is a dark web community of scholars there and other groups who prefer more privacy than you get on Facebook or Instagram.
How Do People Access the Dark Web?
You can’t type into Google the name of a dark web website you’d like to visit. It’s not indexed and often not viewable in mainstream browsers.
You’d need to use a browser like TOR. As mentioned, using Tor and visiting the dark web can alert the authorities. The ironic thing is that the US government funds TOR because it’s a valuable tool.
Activists use TOR to speak out against violent regimes. Whistleblowers use it to report what they’ve experienced. And even average users, spooked by the increasing invasion of privacy, have turned to it.
Everything you do while running TOR is private. But the authorities can tell if you are using it. So if you want to check out the lighter side of the dark web, including the Dark Web Book Club, you should enable NordVPN before running TOR.
NordVPN encrypts your connection, so it provides you with anonymity and privacy to browse all corners of the internet. You can use TOR without fear of anybody speculating about your activities. And you can use it both for checking out the Dark Web with TOR and getting more privacy for everyday internet activities. It’s an incredible (and user-friendly) tool.
All you have to do is download and run it all the time and on all your devices. It’s the easiest way to get the privacy you need, no matter what part of the web you are on.