The internet we use on a daily basis is referred to as “Surface Web” or the internet that is available in the clear. It is the portion of the internet that is indexed by various search engines like Google and DuckDuckGo and can be searched by using those search engines. On the other hand, Deep Web is the portion of the internet that is not indexed by such search engines. The Dark Web, which has been intentionally hidden and inaccessible through standard web-browsers, is a small part of the Deep Web.
You need some particular softwares (e.g. TOR – The Onion Router or I2P – Invisible Internet Project) for opening Dark Web websites along with the required specific configuration which will allow you to browse the same. This is opposite to Surface Web which can be accessed freely or Deep Web which can be accessed either by specific website links or by a combination of a username & password. It is the part of the internet which you can browse anonymously. It is astonishing to say that the surface-web consists of only 4% of the entire internet as suggested on some websites and rest of the internet is either Deep Web. That is why the comparison of surface web, deep web and dark web is always done to an iceberg where very less amount of ice is above the sea and major amount is hidden below sea. Honestly, you cannot even imagine the size of the amount of data present on the Dark/Deep Web.
All of us often use Deep Web fairly often even without knowing that we are using it. Whenever we check our email, we use Deep Web since your emails have not been indexed by the search engines. Whenever we make banking transactions, we are using Deep Web since our account transactions are not open for public viewing and hence not indexed by search engines. Any online orders that you make are in the Deep Web. Even though the generic details about the specific product you ordered may be available on the Surface Web, but any individual order details are in the Deep Web. Deep web information includes your personal information that you may have mentioned on websites, e.g. email address, phone number, address, date of birth, government issued ID proofs, etc.
Sharing any such information with any website always carries the risk of it being leaked or being accessed without authorisation and thus leading to the loss of security and privacy. From these examples, we see that the Deep Web is kind of a private sphere in the internet.
On the other hand, Dark Web is what has been kept intentionally hidden and inaccessible. Browsing the Dark Web requires specific software and associated configuration. If you use Dark Web, you can browse the internet anonymously. Since it provides anonymity, it can be used by various websites and media houses to obtain information from people when they might not be comfortable with sharing that information on the Surface Web or Deep Web. It is a blessing for activists and whistle-blowers. It can also be used to avoid censorship.
The amount of information and things available on the Dark Web are much more than what is available on the Surface Web. You can order any of them anonymously by paying anonymously in the form of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It is possible that information which removed/redacted from the Surface Web may be available on the Dark Web. Broadly, any information or service that is unavailable on the Surface Web, should be available on the Dark Web.
What we often hear in the news regarding illegal activities happening on the Dark Web. It is a fact. On the Dark Web, you can find people trying to sell illegal products like drugs. “Silk Road” was one such Dark Web website which did the same but was taken down by authorities. There are numerous other “Dark Net Markets” which keep on coming up and authorities keep on taking them down. Personal information of individuals is also available for sale on the Dark Web.
The Dark Web is also used for money laundering and illegal financial transactions, especially by the use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. They may also be used for terror financing around the world. There are many hackers and hacking groups that sell their services online and can do any hacking related task for you provided you are willing to pay them adequately. There is also prevalence of illegal porn including child pornography, sexual torture and revenge-porn.
For Wikipedia entry on Deep Web, click here.
For Wikipedia entry on Dark Web, click here.
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