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The Layers Of The Internet Unveiled: Surface Web, Deep Web, and Dark Web

Exploring the different levels of the internet.  04.15.24

photo of a man in a large dark computer server room

What Is The Dark Web?

The dark web is a collection of websites, forums, and marketplaces that can only be accessed by a specific web browser called Tor. Generally when we think of the dark web it's some dark, mysterious, place where cyber criminals lurk in the shadows. Weapons and drugs, disturbing videos of basement murders, imagine it and it's probably there. And it's probably sitting on some poorly designed page that looks like your uncle's first Geocities site. But hey let's be real, anyone going on the dark web is most likely not there for the kitchy designs, right?

What Is The Tor Browser?

Tor is an acronym for "The Onion Router". It was originally developed by the US Navy to allow users activity to remain completely anonymous. It's an open source software that uses encryption protocol to keep all data private. Websites on the dark web require this software for access. The U.S. government made Tor open source in 2004 and has since then funded its continued maintenance via a nonprofit named the Tor Project. photo of an ice glacier representing the layers of the internet

What Is The Deep Web?

The deep web is the part of the internet that is not discoverable by means of standard search engines. In order to find a website, you have to type the exact IP address or domain name into your address bar. The deep web consists mostly of medical records, publications, financial statements, and cloud storage. We in fact access it from time to time through the use of our Google accounts.

"the biggest weakness of the Deep Web is also its greatest strength: it's really hard to find anything" - unknown

The deep web can also be the home to illegal activity, but it's at the risk of the user and host. Websites like the infamous PirateBay existed for anyone who knew the exact domain name. The act of torrenting was and still is illegal though. Without a VPN your activity will be traced directly back to your IP address. Hence the benefit of the Tor browser if you want complete anonimity.
a chart of the three main levels of the internet

What Is The Surface Web?

The surface web is pretty self explanatory. It's consists of anything that is discoverable through a major search engine. It's the reason the term SEO exists today. It's the opposite of the deep web.

How Do We Find Things On The Internet?

Recent data has shown Google has 1.5 billion users a month. A mind blowing 92% of global traffic comes from Google alone. At this point, they pretty much control what anyone can find. If they choose not to index a website for some reason or another, then the chances of us finding it are no different than the chances of us winning the lottery. So how do we find websites? It's a hard question to answer. Online forums, blogs and the old fashioned word of mouth are the best options. It may take a little digging, but you also may just discover a hidden gem --> (JudesWeb ).