What Is the Dark Web?
It’s common knowledge that the internet is unfathomably vast in its content and capabilities, but what is the dark web? While the world wide web services billions of people daily, a mysterious underbelly sits separate from the rest and tends to break from the norms of our standard search engines, browsers, and websites. Here is some insight into what the dark web is, as well as its purpose, why it was created, and reasons you should think ahead before venturing blindly into this unknown medium.
Dark Web Facts
The best place to begin our search is to identify some common dark web facts regarding its purpose and content—and to emphasize the importance of taking safety precautions. Also, we need to differentiate between the surface web, deep web, and dark web, as these each serve different purposes.
Surface Web Vs. Deep Web Vs. Dark Web – That’s a lot of webs, but fortunately, it’s fairly simple to tell them all apart. A great analogy to distinguish each type is by picturing an iceberg sitting in the ocean.
- Surface Web – The top layer of the iceberg can be considered the surface web, as it is visible to the common eye. Statistically speaking, this layer only accounts for under 5% of all available content on the internet. This includes the content we access with browsers such as Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, such as the standard .com and .org websites. Accessing these websites is possible because search engines can find “visible” links to them.
- Deep Web – The deep web sits under the surface and accounts for about 90% of all internet content. This term essentially refers to all webpages that aren’t identifiable by search engines, which includes everything from academic content to databases to illicit websites. However, unlike the dark web, the deep web isn’t all that mysterious. It includes financial and social media accounts, hospital patient portals, legal files, private enterprise databases, and more.
- Dark Web – Finally, the dark web can be considered the bottom of the iceberg, completely hidden from the rest. In fact, when exploring how to access the dark net, you’ll find that you need an entirely new browser called Tor. In the dark web, there is no webpage indexing by search engines, and it is inaccessible to the usual browsers due to its unique registry operator. This also means that IP addresses are hidden, and personal data, even data within the cloud, is discreet.
What Does the Dark Web Look Like? – You’ll find that the dark web and dark net sites look fairly dissimilar from the surface and deep web, and the foundation of how they’re created differs greatly. Tor originated due to the lack of privacy on the surface web; it allows users to explore anonymously without the risk of being tracked. Website URLs are often unintelligible, which further prevents tracing. Still, it has its dangers, and we’ll discuss these below.
Is the Dark Net Illegal? Nope. Downloading Tor is completely legal and free. There is certainly an increased volume of illicit content and dealings on the dark web (such as the now-defunct Silk Road), but access to the browser is unrestricted and available to anyone.
Is the Dark Web Dangerous? – Accessing the dark web and dark net sites can very much be dangerous for those not well versed in its functions, especially since it lacks a lot of the social contracts and agreements that provide safety on the surface and deep web. Whether it’s malicious software through keylogging, phishing, ransomware, bots, or the endless amounts of potential scams, using Tor should be done with caution and without any use of real-life identification. Most malware and viruses, however, can be caught with a proper security program or by using IT cybersecurity.
The average person will most likely never use the dark web. That’s completely fine since there’s not much on there (legally speaking) that can’t be accessed on the surface or deep web. But dark websites do draw some intrigue since anonymity remains crucial for many while browsing the internet.