The term “dark web” conjures up all sorts of images of hoodie-clad hackers sitting in the dark in front of a wall of monitors. What exactly is the Dark Web? Is there any reason for a law-abiding citizen to visit it or any danger it poses to those who haven’t been there?
We’ll start with explaining the topography of the Internet, it’ll help you understand exactly what the Dark Web refers to and how it all works. We’ll use an analogy of a tourist visiting NYC to explain these different levels.
The Public Web
The public web is most likely where you are reading this article right now. This is the normal, publicly available websites anyone with a web browser can go to. It includes things like online shopping sites, search engines, social media pages and streaming movie sites. The majority of the sites on the public web are indexed by search engines and encourage people to visit them.
Imagine the public web to be kind of like Times Square. There’s a lot going on, but its generally a safe place to be. But much like Times Square, its actually only a small part of the city. The public web only accounts for about 4% of the entire Internet.
The Deep Web
The next level down is the Deep Web. Imagine this as all the buildings that are just around Times Square that are pretty much off limits to you as a tourist. There’s nothing really bad happening in these places, but if you don’t work there, you have no business in the building. Maybe you can gain access to some of them with a Gym membership or enrolling in a school. This is basically what the Deep Web is, and it accounts for over 90% of the Internet.
It includes things like company intranets, university websites, paid services not available to the general public and much more. Many often confuse the Deep Web with the Dark Web, but the main difference is basically that the deep web – while probably not home to anything illegal – just has reasons to keep the public out. For that reason they don’t appear in search engines or at least the majority of their content does not.
The Dark Web
We finally come to the Dark Web. Imagine it as a seedy alleyway that’s hard to access and in a bad neighborhood where various sketchy characters are selling things out of the trunks of their cars. Are there good deals to be had? Maybe. Are there some interesting things here? Probably. However, even walking through such a place could be dangerous.
This is basically what the Dark Web is. Comprising just 3% of the Internet and only accessible through a special browser, it can be dangerous just to visit. Clearly such places offer things they don’t want the public to see. Illegal wares, hacking resources and other such dangerous materials can be perused or purchased here. This does not mean it is all bad. There are some Dark Web uses that involve getting the news in countries where it’s restricted or maintaining anonymity for some non-nefarious reason, but overall, it exists for communication and ecommerce that is not allowed on the Public Web.
Why should you have any interest in the Dark Web? Well, the main reason is that your own information could be for sale there. Social security numbers, bank logins and other compromising data is sometimes available for sale on the Dark Web.
Instead of trying to check this yourself and risking exposure to the Dark Web, contact one of our Dark Web specialists to make sure your network is protected and ensure your private information never makes it onto the Dark Web.