The internet is like a vast world with different sections instead of countries. You may have heard of the surface web, the deep net, and the dark net. Many people even believe that the deep web and dark web are the same.
While their names may be similar, the content and applications of the deep web and dark web differ. Continue reading this guide to master the concepts of deep web and dark web.
The Deep Net Explained
The deep web is an internet layer beneath the surface web. It has many web pages that require you to log in before you can access the site’s content. For instance, your Gmail account is on the deep net because only you can access it with your login credentials.
Other people cannot get access to your account by searching for it on search engines as you do on other websites. It is the part of the internet that is hidden from regular view to offer greater security to users.
The deep web has various databases and many intranets for smooth operations. Remember, intranets are protected files that are kept private by their owners and require unique credentials for access. This web is also accessible to the public quickly.
Sites built with “members only” purpose are also part of the deep web. All pages that are not indexed on the internet come under this part of the web.
The Dark Net Explained
The dark web is a small part of the internet that comes within the deep web. You can consider it as a small city within a large country. Of course, the deep web will be a vast nation.
However, you cannot say that the deep web is a part of the dark net because of its applications and availability. Websites on the dark internet are not indexed purposely to keep them hidden from regular web users.
People also cannot visit the dark web accidentally because you will not find it on the surface web. The main reason web crawlers cannot index sites on the internet is because of additional encryption and security tools.
The dark net is legal, but most people who use it do so for criminal purposes. However, the deep web is mainly used for lawful purposes by users.
Is Everything The Same On The Deep Web And Dark Web?
The deep web and dark web are not the same, which is why their content differs. Here are the key differences between the deep web and the dark web:
The Deep Web And Dark Web Have Different Scopes
The deep internet has a larger scope because it also contains sites that are inaccessible by search engines. You may say that the dark net is a part of the deep web, so it should have the same scope, but that is not true. This is because dark links are specific sites that are intentionally hidden.
Meanwhile, the deep net contains parts of public sites that cannot be indexed because of privacy and relevance reasons. This net includes non-indexed sites on the surface web and dark net. Remember that the dark internet only makes up 0.01% of the deep web, which is why its scope is limited.
The primary reason deep sites are hidden from public view is that they may not be relevant to your daily uses. For example, student records are hidden on password-protected pages so that only the school authority can see them. As a regular internet user, these records are not relevant to your activity, so they will not show in search results.
Similarly, we all don’t want other people to access our email inboxes with a few clicks. This is why email accounts on Gmail, Outlook, and other sites are stored within the deep internet so that only you can access them. Millions of people make accounts on different sites daily, contributing to the deep net and making it faster.
The Deep Web And Dark Web Are Accessed Using Different Methods
The dark internet cannot be accessed accidentally because you need special tools for it. This web can be opened by specific networks, with the most famous being Tor. The Onion Router (Tor) directs you through a unique network that will land you on the dark internet.
You can download the official browser through the Tor Project site. New software programs are being developed to help people access the dark internet. These include the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) and Freenet.
However, Tor alternatives are not recommended for accessing the dark net because of their limitations. It may be easy for government agencies to overcome the security layers of Freenet and I2P. On the contrary, the deep net does not require you to get a unique browser.
Non-indexed deep sites can be accessed through the surface internet. The primary examples of such platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, student portals of various institutes, and much more. All you need are the credentials of specific accounts to access them on the deep net.
Sometimes, you may also need specific software to access the deep internet. For instance, you may have to download an institute’s Windows or mobile app to reach its password-protected student portal.
The main thing to remember about such special software is that you don’t need a unique browser to download it, allowing the deep web and dark web to be different.
The Deep Web And Dark Web Have Different Sizes
The scope of different websites refers to their overall functions and accessibility. Meanwhile, size is synonymous with the actual space a thing occupies. The deep internet has more than 200,000 sites, and its data volume exceeds the volume of the surface web.
More than 7,500 TB of data is hosted on the deep internet. The size of the dark web is smaller and reported to be 5% of the total web size. This is why you will find deeper internet content.
The number of documents that are uploaded on the deep net also exceeds the daily uploads of surface and dark webs. For instance, every day, 1 billion documents are hosted on the regular net, while the deep net receives at least 5 billion documents daily.
Due to the bigger size of the deep internet, it can host more content and sites than the dark net. However, determining the exact vastness of the dark internet is a bit difficult because there is no accurate way to calculate the sites on it.
The primary thing you must remember is that the size of the dark net will always be lesser than the deep net because the former is a subsection within the deeper web.
However, that does not necessarily have to be true for the surface internet. The dark web is greater in size than the surface web.
Sites Are Hidden On The Deep Web And Dark Web For Different Reasons
You may have heard many times that deep web and dark web links are hidden, but what does that mean? Well, deep sites are password-protected and have security layers that prevent them from being indexed. However, most site owners tell the search engines to not crawl these sites.
Crawling is a process through which different search engines explore different websites using hyperlinks. A crawler will read structured data on the internet and process it to make it an indexable page. When a crawler’s algorithm is designed uniquely to avoid indexing specific sites, those non-indexed platforms become a part of the deep internet.
Dark links are also non-indexed, but the reason why they are not indexed is different. Such platforms are encrypted with varying layers of security that prevent the crawler from finding it through hyperlinks. This is why dark URLs are not accessible through regular browsers and surface web.
They are intentionally protected by their developers for anonymity, illegal, and other purposes. Most hidden content on the deep net will be legal and free of malicious content. The same is not valid for dark links.
Deep Web And Dark Web Sites Use Differ About Obfuscated Links
An obfuscated URL is a link that is hidden from its original view and resembles a legitimate website link to fool users. When you click on such a URL, you may be redirected to a spoof page instead of the site mentioned in the link.
Deep internet is reliable because it includes many official sites that are used daily by people. This is why such URLs don’t direct you to fake pages. A secure deep link will always take you to the website’s official page when you log in using your credentials.
The dark web does not follow the same pattern because it is a central hub for criminal activities. Hackers and scammers often obfuscate URLs on the internet to target you for money or steal your data. The fake site may look like the original to encourage you to disclose your personal information.
You may identify such spoof sites by checking for spelling mistakes or avoiding them if they ask you to reveal your details, such as your financial account number. Phishing attacks on different webs are mainly conducted through obfuscated links.
The Deep Web And Dark Web Have Different Domain Extensions
There are various sites on the deep web and dark web to offer flexibility to users. The scope of the former web is bigger, which is why platforms on this internet end with multiple extensions. These include sites ending with “.com,” “.org,” “.edu,” and more.
The main feature of such extensions is that they are accessible through the surface web. Deep sites with the earlier domain endings are also safer and easily identifiable on the surface internet. These pages also have SSL certificates, helping you understand the site’s authenticity.
However, all dark links only have one URL extension. Sites on the dark net end with “.onion” and are primarily called Onion URLs. If you paste an onion link on the surface web, the browser will tell you that the site cannot be reached due to a typing error or other reasons.
This is because dark URLs are routed through the Tor network. A surface browser such as Chrome cannot access this network, so you cannot use it for using the dark net. 80% of dark net users mainly use Tor to access Onion URLs, while the rest enter the web for anonymous surfing.
Another difference between deep and dark links is that the latter does not have SSL certificates usually.
How To Improve Deep Net Safety?
Here are some ways to enhance safety on the deep internet:
Create Strong Credentials
Every deep internet site will require you to create strong passwords to access your account later. Most of us use easy information such as birthdays, favorite songs, and anniversary dates to remember the password easily. This is not the best way to enhance your security because family members and hackers can guess such passwords easily.
Always create unique credentials using random letters and numbers for better security. You should also add special characters to your password to make it more secure. It is ideal to change your credentials after every three months to avoid data leaks.
Changing passwords will also take away access from individuals who have already breached your account without you realizing it.
Avoid Accessing Your Account On Public Networks
Many of us like to use our devices at local restaurants and cafes that give free hotspots. Such places mainly offer you a public network that is accessed by various people. Opening your private accounts on such networks is not advisable because hackers can intercept your connection.
You should also avoid sharing files on a public network because advanced tech users may intercept that transfer and send a copy of the file to their device as well. The worst part is that you may not realize the breach because cybercriminals use stealth tools.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
The deep net may be safe, but that does not mean it is impenetrable. People can gain access to your credentials and use your official accounts without your knowledge. This is why you must enhance your deep internet safety by using multi-factor authentication.
Multi-factor authentication can be done in various ways, such as getting an approval message on the same app on your phone or a code on your email and contact number.
You can also enable login alerts on specific platforms to ensure you are informed every time someone logs into your account.
How To Improve Your Safety On The Dark Internet?
The dark net does not require you to make accounts and set up login alerts. You can improve your safety on this web by using a paid VPN to mask your IP address. It is also good to use antivirus software to avoid malicious sites.
Another way to improve dark net safety is by using the Tor browser only to avoid data leaks.
Applications Of The Deep Net
Let’s look at some uses of the deep internet to understand it better:
The most common application of the deep internet is during regular logins. You may sign into your Facebook account to use the social media app. Whenever you log into your digital bank account, you will be transferred to the deep internet.
Every site that requires you to enter login credentials before accessing specific content will take you to the deep net. You can explore various sites while on the surface internet. For example, shopping brands such as Nike will show you regular content without signing in.
However, when you log into the same site with credentials, it will take you to the deep net. Only you will be able to see your order activity and track shipments.
Performing transactions on the internet has various risks because they can be intercepted by hackers. This is why multiple banks and wallets have added deep net security layers to offer enhanced protection. For instance, you may be asked to enter your login details again to authenticate the transaction.
Some sites may also redirect you to a deep internet page that requires you to enter a real-time OTP before the transaction can be completed. Such deep internet security layers are implemented to prevent you from a financial loss.
Whenever you are redirected on a shopping site to a different page to enter your card number, CVC, and other details, you will be doing so on a deep site.
You should note that this is a common use between the deep web and the dark web. The only difference lies in the authentication methods of the transaction and currency.
Website Campaigns For Tracking
You may believe that web campaigns are held only on the surface internet, but that is not true. Some developers may put specific parts of their site under the deep net. This is because it makes it easy to track the campaign.
Because of the usage of the deep net for campaigns, some homepage designs may appear different for specific users. Such distinctive designs help to target users efficiently and increase site traffic or sales.
All Paid Subscription Services
Paid subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and much more come under the deep internet. Search engine crawlers cannot index various accounts because of paywalls. Only users who paid for the content can access their account using the relevant credentials.
SaaS services and paid journalism sites also come under the deep internet due to the additional security layers. Remember, the paid services on the dark net are also part of the deep internet.
Applications Of The Dark Web
Below are some uses of the dark web:
It Is Used To See Uncensored News
The deep internet does not necessarily let you bypass censorship laws on the surface web. This is because it mainly deals with sites with proper content and security certificates. However, the dark internet can help you view uncensored news due to lack of regulation.
Specific sites on the Tor browser can show you foreign news and articles on sensitive topics regardless of your country’s laws. The main reason behind this is that dark sites are challenging to monitor.
You Can Engage In Safe Whistleblowing Using The Dark Web
Deep sites can allow you to engage in whistleblowing and reporting crimes, but your identity may not be as safe. This is because such platforms are easy to trace if the government has the proper credentials or data.
The dark internet is the best way to perform whistleblowing because of secure sites that protect your identity. Most platforms on this web will not ask for your details or make you sign into an account. You can share information anonymously through encrypted files.
This allows you to stay safer by keeping your identity hidden from government officials, hackers, and other people.
People Who Prioritize Anonymity Use The Dark Net
The primary purpose of deep internet is to keep your private messages hidden from other internet users. However, it does not guarantee anonymity.
Every email service that you use on the surface web will require your details, such as name and contact number, for authentication. The dark internet has different users and prioritizes anonymity over other things.
This is why you can access dark sites that help you send messages anonymously. Other platforms on this web also don’t track your activity or add it to your browser history for greater safety.
Remember, deep net activity on the surface web will always be recorded. For instance, if you log into your bank account, the relevant bank will be notified.
Deep Web And Dark Web Conclusion
This is everything you need to know about the deep web and dark web. The two webs are not the same, and their mode of access differs significantly. Deep net can be accessed on all surface web browsers, but you cannot enter the dark internet without a Tor network.
The deep internet is also the biggest out of all webs and hosts the highest number of daily uploads. Remember that the deep web and dark web are susceptible to hackers, so you must take safety precautions to keep your data safe.