If you think the web is Google, Facebook, New York Times and the likes, well, then, here’s the truth: Whatever indexed by standard search engines is only 0.004% (2010 report) of real web. You might want to re-read that. What do I mean by real web, you ask? Everything on the web is real web and not all of that is indexed by major search engines. This means that there exists a completely separate portion of the web that regular Joes don’t know about. This part of the web has a few names Deep Web, Dark Web, Deep Net, Invisible Web or Hidden Web. Which are often used interchangeably, which is wrong? A deep web may have been implied to you as a bad place where illegal activities occur. That’s all not all true. There’s also good stuff in here.
Sounds interesting? Keep reading.
What is Deep Web?
The deep web is that part of the World Wide Web which is not indexed by standard search engines. Although it is impossible or really hard to estimate the size of the deep web, it is 400 or 550 times larger than the web we know (surface web). The web pages indexed by major search engines is called as surface web and it is only 0.004% of World Wide Web. As per reports, deep web occupies 500 terabytes of data. Whereas Google has indexed 200 terabytes of data the last time I read.
The deep web is hidden from the public eye. People can’t come across the deep web through Google, because either Google has not indexed them or they have utilized some hard-core techniques to stay out of the radar. Not only that, standard browser Google, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc. can’t access deep web. Websites of deep web are suffixed with .onion, which don’t work on standard web browsers. A specially designed browser called Tor makes accessing deep web both easy and possible. So easy that anyone with a little computer knows how can do it.
Most of the people visiting deep web are seen as suspicious. Because deep web users typically have something to hide. Fear not though, accessing deep web itself is not illegal. You can access it and no one will know that you did it. Because the deep web is completely anonymous. Deep web’s anonymity is what makes it a place for selling & buying drugs, retail weapons, hacks, child porn, 0day hacks, malware and completely anonymous digital publishing. Latter of all makes deep web attractive to journalists and researchers, people looking to access hidden information. With deep web, anyone can publish secret documents without being publicly known.
Deep Web vs Surface Web
The analogy that surface of the ocean is like surface web, if you throw a net over ocean’s surface, you will catch lots of fish (information). But there’s an abundance of fish (information) buried deep down in the deep ocean (deep web). In contrast to deep web, web that is unindexed, a surface web is that portion of the web that is indexed by search engines. Although the surface web is very tiny compared to deep web, it is still huge considering the fact that it consists of 60 trillion pages & growing aggressively.
Since the surface web is not anonymous and that sites from surface web usually track you, your browsing experience will always be censored. The deep web is free of censorship. It is a world where no one knows who you are, where you live or what sites you visit. It gives you a completely pure browsing experience. Whereas on the other hand, whatever you see is filtered. Sites like Facebook, Google, etc. pry on you. They track your IP address, browsing history, downloads history and what not. This data is then sold to advertisers, marketers, and government, so they can show you ads as per your region, personality and interests, which is not OK. If you’re looking to break free of prying eyes of these tech giants and marketers, then Deep web is for you. Don’t worry, you won’t find anything you won’t look for.
Where there is bad stuff in deep web. Where there are marketplaces like The Silk Road (now taken down), where drugs and other illegal stuff is ubiquitous, there is also an abundance of good stuff. With more than 500 terabytes of data, it can’t all be bad, right? There is lots of good information as well.