The internet is no longer a novelty but acts as a necessary part of daily life in today’s digitally-driven world. Even non-tech-savvy people surf the web, and while it’s true that search engines are like rabbit holes that lead you to a virtual wonderland, most only scratch the surface. But what if you go deeper like Alice and reach the portion of the worldwide web that is concealed from your conventional search engines?


Beyond the surface web lay the deep and dark web recesses, both of which are often interchanged, but both terms have distinct definitions of the hidden aspects of the internet. The only thing they share is the aggregation of encrypted websites, which generally means you cannot access them from search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.


Defining the Surface, Deep, and Dark Web


A Look Into the Surface Web


Everyone knows the surface web since it’s the visible layer of the internet, one where anyone can easily access using common browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari, and more. Generally, you can easily identify websites on the surface web with its labels “.com” or “.org.”


Think of it as the pointy, top portion of an iceberg that is resting above the water. While most internet users use this space, the surface web statistically takes up five percent or less of the total internet.

Digging Into the Deep Web


Contrary to popular belief, the dark web makes up a staggering 90 percent of all websites and rests just below the surface web. It encompasses a significant portion that it can be challenging to catch all the active pages or websites out of the millions; that’s why big search engines like Google only fish for websites lingering close to the surface.


Going deeper into the deep web, you’ll dig up private databases, academic journals, and other websites that are surprisingly clean, safe, and legal. The deep web isn’t just filled with sketchy and illicit content, though going even further down the virtual rabbit hole leads you right into the den where the deep web is known for: the dark web.


Shedding Light Onto the Dark Web


If the deep web is an umbrella term, then the dark web refers to the shadier parts of the internet, the one that’s submerged down without any index. Users can only access the deep web using a specialised web browser, plus it uses a unique registry operator with multiple security measures to prevent normal internet users from stumbling upon it.


The dark web is infamous for housing cybercriminals and illegal trading websites. While browsing the dark web isn’t illegal, keep in mind that purchasing their “hidden” services breaks the law, so it’s crucial to practice caution when you’re in the shadows of the dark web.


The Bottom Line: Scratching the Surface of the Deep and Dark Web


The terms dark and deep web often conjure images of the seediest, the underbelly of the internet, but it’s not all for shady users. The deep web is simply a catch-all term that separates the surface web from the darker areas of the internet, but understanding the differences is important.


While the dark web is not something the average user can stumble upon, it helps to know how to avoid it since browsing the dark web involves unknown dangers.


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