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by Dave Fuller

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes


The ‘Deep web’ and ‘Dark web’ may be close to becoming a household name. After a stream of headlines talk about contract killers and drug dealers, a number of articles claiming that so called Islamic State is using secret websites to plan attacks, this hidden part of the Internet is being talked about more than ever.

For the most part, the story you’ve been sold about the dark web is a myth so this article is my attempt to de-mystify these phrases. Here are the basics:

The Internet

It’s the Internet everyone uses. We consume news, visit social media, and shop. Just consider this the ’normal’ Internet.

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The disturbing world of the Deep Web, where contract killers and drug dealers ply their trade on the internet.

Daily Mail

The Deep Web

This is a subset of the Internet that is not recorded by the major search engines. Search engine will have no record of these websites so you have to visit them directly. There are no directions leading to the website, but they are there if you have the specific address. Rest assured, there is no secret organisation controlling the ‘Deep web’, it’s largely there because the Internet is just too big for search engines to index. The ‘Deep web’ is what is left out.

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The dark web stole my life.

Daily Mail

The Dark Web

The ‘Dark web’ (also called Darknet) is a subset of the ‘Deep web’. Like the ’Deep web’ is not recorded by search engines, the ‘Dark web’ requires special software to be able to access it, e.g., specific proxying software or authentication to gain access. Commonly the ‘Dark web’ sits on top of additional sub-networks, such as Tor, I2P, and Freenet. This sub-network is often associated with criminal activity but while the ‘Dark web’ is definitely used for evil purposes more than the standard Internet or the ‘Deep web’. However, there are many legitimate uses for the ‘Dark web’ as well including the sharing of domestic abuse sensitive reports, government oppression, and other potential criminal activity that have serious consequences for those sources reporting the issues.

The Deep, Dark Web

Summary

Whilst both the ‘Deep web’ and the ‘Dark web’ still use the Internet, it’s important to understand the difference between the Internet that’s searchable versus the Internet as a set of connections that enable connectivity. I’ve defined the Internet as a place that is easy to find things online because what you’re searching for is available through search engines.

The ‘Deep web’ it is the part of the Internet that isn’t necessarily evil, but is too large to be recorded due to the limitations of search engine software like Google.

The ‘Dark web’, like the ‘Deep web’, is part of the non-indexed Internet that is used by those who are purposely controlling access because they have a need for privacy or because what they’re doing is illegal.

Looking beyond the scaremongering, what we call the ‘Dark web’ is tiny. The World Wide Web has swelled to over a billion different sites, while current estimates put the number of ‘Dark web’ sites at between 7000 and 30,000. That’s 0.03 percent of the normal world wide web. The sum of all these hidden protected sites is not, as claimed by news outlets and governments, several orders of magnitude larger than the normal web.

I hope you can now understand better the differences between the different areas of the internet. As always I’m happy to explain and debate any part of the article over the phone or better still over a cup of tea and remember the ‘Deep’ and ‘Dark’ web cannot steal your life by clicking on the wrong link.

Dave Fuller

Armed with a BA Hons Arts Degrees and decades of experience as a Web Developer, Dave manages all aspects of Web Design and Software Development at Accent and is also our technical guru.

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