Fri Feb 11 2022

Deep web - the hidden part of the internet

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Deep web - the hidden part of the internet

The internet we know and use every day, with its endless stream of websites and information readily available at our fingertips, is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface lies a hidden world known as the deep web, a vast and largely unexplored expanse of content that search engines can't reach.

What is the Deep Web?

The deep web are parts of the World Wide Web, which is completely hidden from the regular internet user. This may shock you, but Google can't find everything. Google is only a Surface Web search engine. The Deep Web is a part of the internet not accessible to link-crawling search engines like Google. From a purist's definition standpoint, the Surface Web is anything that a search engine can find while the Deep Web is anything that a search engine can't find.

This means anything behind the Google Drive, OneDrive, paywall, anything that is password protected, or anything that is dynamically generated on the fly and doesn't have a permanent URL - all of these things are said to comprise the deep web because they don't exist at the surface of the web.

Everyone access the deep web routinely, every day. The emails in your Gmail account, your online bank statements, your office intranet, direct messages in Twitter, photos you've uploaded to Facebook and marked as private. These are all the deep web.

The deep web encompasses a wide range of content, including:

  • Private databases: This includes personal information like email accounts, bank statements, and medical records.
  • Private social media content: Private messages, photos, and other content restricted to specific users.
  • Paywalled content: Websites that require a subscription or fee to access, like academic journals and news articles.
  • Dynamic content: Content generated on-the-fly, like web applications and online forums.
  • Dark web content: This subset of the deep web is intentionally hidden and requires specialized software and protocols to access.

Exploring the Deep Web

While the deep web may sound intimidating, accessing it isn't necessarily difficult. Several tools and techniques can help you unlock its secrets:

1. Deep web search engines

Specialized search engines like DuckDuckGo or The Invisible Web Catalog index a small portion of the deep web, allowing you to search for specific content.

2. Tor

A free software that enables anonymous browsing and access to the "dark web," a subset of the deep web known for its anonymity and hosting illicit activities.

3. Direct URLs

Bypassing search engines entirely, you can access specific deep web pages if you know their exact URL.


Beyond the Shadows: The Benefits of the Deep Web

Despite its dark reputation, the deep web offers several advantages:

1. Privacy and security

Deep web platforms often provide greater privacy and security than their surface web counterparts.

2. Uncensored information

The deep web can be a valuable source of information not readily available on the surface web, including academic journals, government documents, and whistleblower leaks.

3. Alternative communication

Deep web platforms like Tor allow individuals in repressive regimes to communicate anonymously and freely.

Navigating the Deep Web Safely

Like any unknown territory, the deep web requires caution and awareness:

  • Be mindful of your privacy: Avoid entering personal information on unfamiliar websites and use reputable deep web platforms.
  • Beware of scams: The deep web is a haven for scams and illegal activities. Exercise caution and avoid transactions involving sensitive information.
  • Use security software: Antivirus and anti-malware software are essential for protecting yourself from cyber threats.

Dark Web

Another part of the Deep web is Dark web. It is a subset of the Deep Web that is not only not indexed, but that also requires something special to be able to access it. The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them.The Dark Web often sits on top of additional sub-networks, such as Tor, I2P, and Freenet, and is often associated with criminal activity of various degrees, including buying and selling drugs, pornography, gambling, etc.

Almost all sites on the so-called Dark Web hide their identity using the Tor encryption tool. You may know Tor for its end-user-hiding properties. You can use Tor to hide your identity, and spoof your location. When a website is run through Tor it has much the same effect.

Indeed, it multiplies the effect. To visit a site on the Dark Web that is using Tor encryption, the web user needs to be using Tor. Just as the end user's IP is bounced through several layers of encryption to appear to be at another IP address on the Tor network, so is that of the website. So there are several layers of magnitude more secrecy than the already secret act of using Tor to visit a website on the open internet.

Not all Dark Web sites use Tor. Some use similar services such as I2P - indeed the all new Silk Road Reloaded uses this service. But the principle remains the same. The visitor has to use the same encryption tool as the site and - crucially - know where to find the site, in order to type in the URL and visit.

Common Dark Web resource types are media distribution, with emphasis on specialized and particular interests, and exchanges where you can purchase illegal goods or services. These types of sites frequently require that one contribute before using, which both keeps the resource alive with new content and also helps assure (for illegal content sites) that everyone there shares a bond of mutual guilt that helps reduce the chances that anyone will report the site to the authorities.

The Tor Browser is the main application for accessing the dark web. Tor stands for The Onion Router - the onion metaphor indicates the layers of security that work to conceal a user's location, and the browser enables you to access hidden web sites with the .onion domain suffix. It can also be used to browse the surface web anonymously. Moore & Rid's research suggests that the dark web accounts for only 3 to 6 percent of Tor traffic, with the vast majority of users choosing to use Tor for privacy reasons.


The deep web is a fascinating and often misunderstood part of the internet. While it can be a source of valuable information and resources, it's important to be aware of the risks and dangers involved before venturing into its depths. As technology continues to evolve, the deep web is likely to become increasingly important, and understanding it will be essential for navigating the future of the internet.

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