For many, the deep web is a cryptic place where people go to conduct illegal activity. While some have a simple understanding of what the deep web is, others have minimal information.
Simply put, the deep web is the hidden part of the world wide web that isn’t accessible through conventional browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox. The “surface web,” by contrast, refers to the part of the web we can access with any “www” prefix in a browser.
Understanding the deep web can be confusing because, although the majority of pages exist here, most people have no experience accessing this part of the online world. This section of the Internet is hidden in plain sight, and it’s no wonder that for many people, it’s an enigma. And with that in mind, here are seven interesting facts that you should know about the deep web:
Deep Web vs. Dark Web
Often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the deep web and the dark web. Although both the deep and dark web refer to non-indexed pages, the main difference is that the dark web is the part of the deep web that consists of illegal and illicit activity. From an ethical point, the deep web can be entirely neutral; sometimes pages aren’t indexed because they simply aren’t relevant enough.
The dark web, on the other hand, is purposefully hidden and plays host to a variety of illegal activities. Dark web data consists of stolen social security numbers, email addresses, login credentials, and much more. Anyone with digital currency can purchase illegal goods—including personal data—and do what they please (which is why dark web monitoring is so important for businesses and individuals).
The Deep Web Is Much Bigger Than You Think
Current studies estimate that the Deep Web is roughly 500 times bigger than the surface web. When you consider the amount of websites that exist, it’s easy to understand how overwhelmingly massive the deep web actually is. Often, the deep web is depicted as an iceberg, where the tip illustrates the surface web and the large bottom half under the water illustrates the deep web. Traditional search can only access 16% of the available information online.
Used for Journalism
The deep web isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s also a reliable source for classified information. Many officials turn to the deep web to disclose information they are contractually obligated to keep private or for their personal safety. In fact, ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning publication for investigative journalism, was the first media outlet to launch a version of its site on the Tor network. WikiLeaks and SciHub are also great examples of deep web resources.
Hiring a Hacker Is Easy
Everyone likes to believe that their data is safe and their privacy is protected. But the fact is, hiring a hacker is not only easy on the deep, dark web, but cheap, too. One Business Insider writer described the price of principal hacking services found on the dark web, stating that it cost a mere $90 to hire a hacker to hack into a Gmail account.
You Need a Special Browser to Access It
If you want to access the deep web, you need a special browser called Tor (though there are similar anonymous peer-to-peer alternatives). This anonymous browsing network allows users to “.onion” pages that are encrypted to maximize privacy. The .onion suffice is similar to .com, .edu, and other surface web domains. This way, internet service providers can’t tell what users are accessing or pinpoint the location of the user viewing a particular page. Tor leverages the same anonymization principles that blockchain was founded upon.
Very Safe to Use
Ironically, the deep web is pretty safe to use—especially if you’re only using it to browse, find information, explore deep topics, or stay anonymous for personal reasons. By nature, the deep web is highly encrypted and has a controlled infrastructure and control of malware. You’re more likely to be hacked by clicking a surface web link or attachment than you are to be hacked from exploring the deep web.
Some Hackers Fight Against Dark Web Material
There are a select niche of hackers who use the deep web to fight against illegal activity on the deep web. Over the past few years, thousands of dark web websites containing illegal images or selling illegal substances have been deleted, thanks to the help of hacker groups like “Anonymous” and other individuals. And although it’s extremely difficult, there are legal branches of the government, such as the FBI, working to crackdown on dark web sites that have gained notoriety (such as the Silk Road).