What’s the difference between the Deep Web and the Dark Web?

An example of an underwater iceberg.
Ratnapan Nanlapom / Shutterstock.com

“Deep Web” and “Dark Web” both seem intimidating, but that doesn’t mean they are the same thing. When it comes to them, knowing the difference can keep you safe from dangerous places on the internet and affect you at parties.

The Internet is not the web.

Before we can distinguish between “deep” and “dark”, we must first clear another common conflict. We use “Internet” and “Web” interchangeably, but they are very different.

The Internet is the network infrastructure that we use to communicate globally. This includes the network card in your computer, your router, your home fiber line, submarine cables, and all the other bits and bobs that shoot electrical (or optical) impulses across the globe. You can also add Internet Protocol as a defining feature of the Internet. It is the language of the Internet and describes how information is encoded and rooted on the Internet.

The World Wide Web is a service that runs on the Internet infrastructure. Specifically, it is a network of websites hosted on web servers, connected to the Internet. The Internet hosts many other services, such as video streaming, FTP (file transfer protocol), email, etc.

If you want to understand the difference between deep, dark and superficial networks, it is important to understand the concept of the Internet as a network that can host a wide variety of network applications.

Related: Internet base: TCP / IP is 40 years old.

Life on the Surface Web

The superficial web is the public face of the Internet. When you visit a company’s website, you visit the Surface Web. Definitions may vary slightly, but the Surface Web is basically all the websites and resources connected to the Internet that can be freely discovered and viewed. Google’s search engine, for example, “crawls” the web to find websites that are open to anyone to view. When you visit our How-To-Geek website, you are on the Surface Web!

Rolling in the deep web

Then there is the “deep” web of everything connected to the Internet but hidden behind some form of security. When you log in to your webmail service, you are on the deep web. Everything you can see until you log in to Facebook? This is also the deep web.

Instead of being a scary part of the internet. The Deep Web is the flesh and bones of our everyday Internet experience. This is the basement of the amusement park where all the real work is done so that you can have a good time.

Not surprisingly, most of the web is deep web. At this point, there is usually a resemblance between icebergs and most of them underwater.

The Dark Web

It brings us to the Dark Web. The Dark Web is a part of the deep web, but only a very small part of it. These are websites and servers that have been deliberately hidden. The people who run the site don’t want anyone to know who they are and they definitely don’t want anyone to visit their sites.

This anonymity can be obtained in various ways, but most of the sites on the Dark Web are “onion” sites. They can only be accessed through the Tour Browser, which gives users access to the Tour Network. The Tour Network was created to allow complete anonymous communication on the Internet (with some additional precautions). When a user and a website send data to each other via a tour, the data packets are randomly routed through a large network of volunteer computers. Each of these nodes only knows where the packet has just come from and where it is going, as each layer of onion encryption is stripped from the contents of the packet. This only happens when the packet reaches its final destination, the last layer of encryption is removed and the desired recipient receives the original data.

While the Dark Web is not illegal in most countries. Criminals are increasingly adopting it to replace illegal content and communications around the world. Combined with the rise of cryptocurrencies, the Dark Web has enabled billions of dollars of illicit trade.

There are plenty of legitimate websites on the Dark Web, but in general, most users should avoid them because they come with serious cyber security threats and any site can be compromised, even if Why not today

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