Surely, you have heard of the term- ‘web’ or have used it several times throughout the day. In this era where technology has become a necessity and is no longer optional for most of us, millions of web pages, servers and databases run 24 hours a day surrounding us with all the information and answers to what we are searching for on the internet.
In general, the ‘web’ can be categorized into two categories- the surface web and the deep & dark web. As the name suggests, the web which we normally surf is the surface web that takes up the top of the ‘iceberg’, taking up approximately 5% of the total number of webs on the internet. The rest of the 95% falls into the category of the deep and dark web, which take up the bottom portion of the submerged ‘iceberg’.
The surface web, also known as the open web, is the visible surface portion of the ‘iceberg’. It contains public websites commonly accessible via our web browsers like Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox. These websites are usually marked with registry operators (Eg. website URLs ending with .com or .org) and can be located easily with search engines.
Search engines can index these websites (visible links) with a process referred to as ‘crawling’, making these surface web pages locatable and visible to users via the search engines. This portion is generally what we have been using on a day-to-day basis, but only takes up about 5% of all the websites on the internet.
Deep & Dark Web
The deep web, also known as the hidden web, or invisible web, is usually encrypted and cannot be located by search engines. These include all the web pages which do not appear in the results when you use the search engines and often require the user to log in with a password for access.
The deep and dark web are often used interchangeably, with the majority of the deep web safe and legal to access. You may not have known it, but chances are, you have been accessing the deep web quite frequently.
A huge part of the deep web consists of web pages such as databases like the public or privately protected files and folders, and intranets which are the internal networks businesses used privately within their organizations. Other common examples include the contents of file hosting services (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), banking/ financial accounts, emails, social messenger accounts, medical documentation, and so on.
The bottom part of the deep web, which is the deepest end of the ‘iceberg’ is the dark web. It is the most hidden web page that only a few will ever access. The dark web is the web pages that are not indexed by search engines. These webs are not visible via our default browsers and will not be shown as search results by using search tools, instead, users would have to use a special browser such as TOR (‘The Onion Routing’ project) to access the dark web.
The dark web is said to be safe to access, but anonymous users may make use of the advantage of the ‘privacy’ to run illegal activities such as illegal marketplace for the sale of stolen data or carefully plotted scams preying on their next victim.
Although it isn’t illegal to access the deep or the dark web, neither of the webs is safe from cyber threats. As we always say, you can never be too safe in the cyber world and there is certainly no silver bullet to cybersecurity. It is recommended to access these pages only when you have the authority to do so, and when absolutely necessary. Keep an eye out for malicious software (Malware) such as keyloggers, phishing, and ransomware even though you may have cyber security measures in place. Users should also think carefully about accessing the dark web, especially if they are not IT experts or have no requirements to do so.
No matter what type of web you’re accessing, always remember to stay vigilant and keep a lookout for suspicious activities. Always use a strong password for all your login credentials and activate Multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Do not click on URLs or suspicious links even if they are sent to you and always remember to speak to your IT support team whenever you’re in doubt.
Stay cyber-safe and happy surfing!