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The “Deep Web” and the ” Dark web »They sound intimidating, but that doesn’t mean they are the same. While they are related, knowing the difference can keep you safe from dangerous places on the internet and make you a hit at parties.

Internet is not the web

Before we get to the distinction between “deep” and “dark”, another common combination must first be clarified. We tend to use “internet” and “web” interchangeably, but they are very different.

Internet it is the network infrastructure that we use to communicate globally. That includes the network card in your computer, your router, your home’s fiber line, undersea cables, and all the other bits and bobs that fire electrical (or optical) impulses all over the planet. It can also include the Internet Protocol as a defining characteristic of the Internet. It is the language of the Internet and describes exactly how information is encoded and routed across the Internet.

The World Wide Web is a service that runs on the infrastructure of the Internet. Specifically, it is the network of websites hosted on web servers, connected to the Internet. The Internet hosts many other services, such as video streaming, FTP (file transfer protocol), email, etc.

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It is important to understand the concept of the Internet as a network that can host many different types of network applications if you want to understand the difference between deep, dark, and shallow networks.

Life on Surface Web

The web surface is the public face of the Internet. When you visit a company website, you are visiting the web surface. Definitions may vary a bit, but the web surface is essentially all internet-connected websites and resources that are freely discoverable and freely accessible. The Google search engine, for example, “Crawls” the web at Look for websites that are open for anyone to visit. When you visit our website here at How-To-Geek, you are on the web surface!

Rolling on the Deep Web

So the “deep” web is all things connected to the Internet but hidden behind some form of security. When you log into your webmail service, you are on the deep web. Everything you can see unless you log into Facebook? That is also the deep web.

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Instead of being a scary part of the internet. the deep web is the meat and bones of our daily internet experience. It is the basement of the amusement park where all the real work happens so you can have a good time.

Unsurprisingly, most of the web is the deep web. At this point, there is usually an analogy involving icebergs and how most of their volume is underwater.

The dark web

This brings us to the dark web. The dark web is part of the deep web, but only a very small part of it. These are websites and servers that have been deliberately hidden. The people who run the site don’t want anyone to know who they are and they certainly don’t want just anyone to visit their sites.

This anonymity can be achieved in a number of ways, but most sites on the dark web are “onion” sites. They can only be accessed through the Tor browser, which gives users access to the Tor network. The Tor network was created to allow completely anonymous communication (with a few extra precautions) over the Internet. When a user and a website send data to each other over Tor, the data packets are randomly routed through a massive network of volunteer computers. Each of these nodes only knows where the packet came from and where it goes next, as each layer of an encryption onion is stripped from the contents of the packet. Only when the packet reaches the final destination is the last layer of encryption removed and the intended recipient gets the original data.

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While the dark web is not illegal in most countries. Criminals quickly adopted it to distribute illegal content and communications around the world. Combined with the rise of cryptocurrencies, the dark web has allowed billions of dollars in illegal trade.

There are plenty of legitimate websites on the dark web as well, but in general it should be avoided by most users as it carries serious cybersecurity risks and any site could be compromised tomorrow, even if it isn’t today.

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