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What is the Dark Web?

What is the Dark Web?
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The next time you're on a boat, or a yacht or a cruise ship, take a few moments to look out at the water. Everything may seem calm on the surface, but there's a flurry of activity taking place just below and in the darkest depths.

Something similar is happening with the internet. No matter how many websites you visit, comments you post, photos you share, videos you watch and forums you join, you're barely scratching the surface of what's out there. In fact, even if you visited every single website you could find, you'd still only have access to about 3 to 4 percent of what's on the internet.

So, where is all of this content hiding? That's what we're going to talk about today: The Dark and Deep Web, where things are happening online that most of us don't see or have access to.

Understanding the internet's structure

Before we dive into a discussion on the Dark Web, it's helpful to know how the internet is structured, and other key terms that often get confused or intermixed.

The graphic below shows one of the easiest ways to visualize the structure of the internet, by thinking of it as an iceberg.

Above the water is the Surface Web. Beneath the water is what's known as the Deep Web, and a part of this Deep Web is called the Dark Web. Keep reading for a breakdown of each of these terms' definitions to see how they're different from one another.


  • Surface Web: This portion of the web, which is also known as the Visible Web, Indexed Web, Lightnet or Clearnet, is easily accessible for everyone. You do not need any special software to access it, and it houses all of the sites you frequently visit including Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Tumblr, Amazon and others. Everything that takes place on the Surface Web is tracked and traceable.
  • Dark Web: It's likely that you've never seen this portion of the web before. The Dark Web is an encrypted network of "Darknets" that makes up a portion of the Deep Web. Accessing this hidden section of the web requires a special encryption software called Tor.
  • Deep Web: The Deep Web is often used as a synonym for the Dark Web, but they're actually two separate things that are not interchangeable. In its simplest terms, the Deep Web is basically online data that is not registered with any type of search engine (and therefore can't be found by a web search). This information is typically stored on the private networks of corporations.
Next page: 5 myths about the Dark Web you shouldn't believe
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