Often confused as the same thing, dark web and deep web are two of the fascinating yet terrifying mysteries of the Internet.
More often than not deep web is used interchangeably with dark web. However, dark web is something which is only an infinitesimally small and notorious part of an otherwise largely uncharted territory called deep web. What deep web actually means is the part of the internet which cannot be accessed or indexed by the search engines like Google or Bing. Putting it simply, this includes Bank details, emails, protected content on social media, transaction histories, content hosted on private web servers, audiovisual content behind paywalls, anything password protected and so on. It is estimated that the data on the seep web exceeds the data on the public web.
All of the above mentioned things are shielded behind a server's security measures and is therefore not possible to access through a search engine. Given that the billions of internet users in all probability have thousands of billions of online accounts in all, which are either password protected or hold content behind a paywall, all of this comprises the deep web, which many believe makes up for a majority of content on the internet.
Dark web isn’t that different from deep web. Dark web can also not be accessed or indexed through any of the given search engines. The dark web is typically used for nefarious activities, and has protection mechanisms to avoid tracking of these activities by law enforcement agencies. Content that is present on the dark web can be accessed using specialised browsers such as Tor. Tor network has been specially designed to keep your identity secret as it keeps on bouncing your IP address from one server to another making it difficult to pin point your location. Similarly the websites on the Tor networks keep on masking their source IP address to prevent signal triangulation.
In short, anyone can visit these sites using a Tor network but it is impossible to tell who is operating the site. In order to access a website on the dark web, you’ll need the exact .onion URL of the site. Onion is a special-use top level domain suffix designating an anonymous hidden service reachable via the Tor network. The reason for so much secrecy in the Dark Web is because most of the content available is illegal. Sites relating to Child pornography, marketplaces for recreational drugs, illegal weapons, document forgery, hired hitmen and cyber criminals are all available here.
Depending on what you intend to do on the dark Web, some users recommend placing tape over your laptop's webcam to prevent prying eyes watching you. Surfing the dark web is not illegal per se, but it should be done at one’s own risk as you could be a click away from sites selling drugs and guns, and even worse things. You can also try your luck with the limited search engines for the dark web such as The Hidden Wiki.
Other uses for the dark web is that people operating within closed, totalitarian societies can use it to communicate with the outside world without fearing detection. Journalists, whistleblowers and internet activists have used the dark web to circumvent restrictions as well as to maintain anonymity and privacy while exchanging information. A good example for this is Wikileaks.
The dark web has been in news many times, mostly in relations with the FBI busting drug trafficking rings or a child pornography sites operating on the Tor network. Recently the dark web hit the headlines in August 2015 after it was been reported that 10GB of data stolen from Ashley Madison, a site designed to enable bored spouses to cheat on their partners, was dumped on to the dark web. Terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaida have been known to use the Tor network to communicate instructions to their followers.
It is therefore possible that from time to time dark web services will remain down due to constant monitoring by the police services. This article is only an explanation for what deep web and dark web is and is not in any way promoting the usage of the dark web to access illegal content.
Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 10:50 AM