The Three Interesting Layers of the Internet – Surface, Deep, and Dark Web

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Visual metaphor of an iceberg floating in the ocean, illustrating the concept of hidden depths with a significant portion underwater, often used to represent the idea that there's more to something than meets the eye.
ATECHSO February 21, 2024 0 Comments

Surface, Deep, & Dark Web

The internet is like an iceberg. There is the tip that you see every day, like the Surface Web. Then there are the much larger parts that lurk beneath – the Deep Web and the Dark Web.

Surface Web

The Surface Web, also called the Common Web, Visible Web, or the Indexed Web is the internet you knowingly use every day. You’d assume that this is the majority of the internet because we’ve labeled it the World Wide Web, right? Well, the Surface Web is only a small fraction of the entire internet. Think of it, again, as the tip of the iceberg.

Deep Web

The Deep Web, also called the Invisible Web or Hidden Web is underneath the Surface Web. Standard search engines do not index this portion of the World Wide Web. This means that search engines, like Google or Bing, cannot find 99% of the information on the Deep Web. The Deep Web contains positive things like database storage or encrypted credentials. It also has a much darker subsection, the Dark Web.

You Access the Deep Web Without Even Knowing It

For example, your company’s intranet is on the Deep Web so it cannot be seen by search engines. Sites you join behind pay-walls or those that require special registration live in the Deep Web. Many databases and webmail pages are also tucked away below the Surface Net so your personal information is not exposed. Facebook group information is stored on the Deep Web. Otherwise, anyone can search for that page, read the posts, and request to join. If you use online banking, that information is also on the Deep Web. Sites that host medical information and legal documents are hidden there as well.

Dark Web

The Dark Web is only accessible by utilizing special software, allowing users and websites to remain anonymous or untraceable. It exists on an encrypted network that uses masked IP addresses to maintain anonymity for users and site owners. This way, people who use the Dark Web for illegal purposes can’t be traced. Things like drugs, guns, counterfeit money, and credit card numbers can all be found, bought, and sold. Chances are that some of your personal information is already for sale on the Dark Web due to hacks and breaches, such as the recent Capital One breach.

You’re probably thinking, if all the sites I go to are on the Surface Web, why should I even care about the Deep Web and the Dark Web? Two reasons:

  • Some of your daily excursions on the internet accesses part of the Deep Web, and even the Dark Web, because of the anonymity they provide
  • Your information is likely for sale on the Dark Web for as little as $1

Your Information Is for Sale on the Dark Web

Because your information is probably there, you need to be paying attention to what’s happening on the Dark Web. While you most likely won’t visit it directly, you should monitor it on a daily basis. These efforts will help you see if hackers have compromised your information so that you can act. We can help you with this by running a scan that identifies vulnerabilities for your business domain.

Bottom line, the internet is a really tangled web, so to speak. You access the Surface Web actively and Deep Web indirectly on a regular basis. You can try to avoid the Dark Web, but in all likelihood your information is already floating out there. So, you need to be out there too, in the form of regular monitoring.

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