Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, once said, “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand.” He was not wrong. In fact, when most peoplethink about the Internet, peoplethey think of booking a vacation online, logging onto social media, or watching a video on YouTube. But, that is just a small fraction of what the Internet can do .
The Internet exists in levels, and the one at the very top is what most people are aware of. Known as the surface web or the clear net, it is the face of the Internet and the part that most people see and used every day. More specifically, the surface web is a collection of all of the public web pages on a server accessible by any search engine. , although it constitutes only ten percent of the Internet’s actual contents. Beneath the surface web lies restricted pockets of the Internet that can be divided into two major categories: the deep web and the dark web.
The Deep Web
On one hand, the deep web refers to any web page not indexed by the regular engines, such as Google, Yahoo! Search, and Bing. The deep web is vast. It is estimated that the deep web has up to 5,000 times more web pages than those accessible on the clear net. Because it is inaccessible by regular search engines, content on the deep web is less visible to most users. As a result, many associate the deep web with shadowy corners of the Internet where illegal deals and content lurk. This is, however, not entirely true.
While the Deep Web can be a refuge for criminals, not all websites on the deep web are used to facilitate malicious activities. There are parts of the Internet hidden from the public that are not meant for illegal activity as well. For instance, e-mail inboxes are not indexed by search engines, making it part of the deep web, but isare still fully accessible. Another exampleSame goes with social media profiles. Try performing a Google search of a person’s Twitter timeline, and it will come up empty.
Put simply, Tthe deep web is a part of everyone’s daily online activities, and it is not just full of cybercriminals or those with malicious intent. CIn fact, copious amounts of content on the Internet exist with restricted access that cannot be tracked.Thereforeis commonplace and not simply an arena for criminal activity
There are two ways through which websites can become part of the deep web: obscurity and authentication.
Obscurity refers to the inability to find an online resource on a search engine results page (SERP). For instance, some websites use robots.txt files to prevent search engines from indexing their sites. In searchesObscurity is an outdated method of protecting information online. It rests on the premise that a search engine can access a website’s details if it cannot find them.
Similarly, the other portion of the deep web uses authentication features to restrict access. For example, s ome websites require credentials like a login to verify a user’s identity before granting access to their online resources. In these cases, a user will need a username and password—or other valid credentials—to get past the login wall. Because search-engine crawlers are typically prevented from accessing information behind this login wall, the login page is considered part of the deep web as well.
The Dark Web
On the other hand, the dark web is a small portion of the deep web that is obscured and cannot be accessed via ordinary browsers such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. In fact, special tools and protocols are needed to access the dark web, since it is intentionally hidden, or obscured, from view. isBecause anonymity is an essential part of the dark web, however,criminal activity is also more prevalent in this part of the Internet. iIn particular, individuals oftenare more likely to find illegal media, engage in illicit criminal activity, and tradeexchange stolen data on the dark web.
Not all websites on the dark web facilitate illegal activities, however. For instance, the dark web can be a conduit for uncensored information in countries where free speech is restricted or closely monitored by the government. People living in countries with oppressive regimes often lack ready access to news and critically important information pertaining to their society’s social and economic well-being. People in these countries can use the deep web to gather crucial information and export it out of the country. For this reason, major whistleblower platforms and news outlets like Pro Publica attempt to counteract these oppressive regimes through the dark web. Similarly, social media giants like Facebook have created corresponding sites on the dark web that have a significant number of users.
Thus, the dark web offers a wide range of benefits to users. Nameotably, it allows boasts anonym. ity, which, In countries with oppressive regimes, this can be a critical tool forjournalists, whistleblowers, and political protestors, especially those in countries with oppressive regimes. How to Access the Dark Web
It is not easy to access the dark web. It lies within the deepest parts of the internet abyss and requirse non-standard protocols and ports to access. However, the most popular way of accessing the dark web today is through The Onion Router (Tor). Tor is a non-profit organization involved in the research and development of online privacy tools. Likewise, a Tor browser encryptsyou’re a user’s traffic and routes anthe IP address through a series of volunteer-operated servers.
The Internet is much more complex than it appears. The surface web is the part of the Internet that most people easily see and access. The deep web is the part of the Internet that is hidden from the public, either through obscurity or authentication. Contents of the deep web cannot be indexed by conventional search engines like Google or Yahoo! Search. Finally, the dark web is a meager prt of the deep web that can only be accessed using special tools like Tor.