There are millions of websites on the internet. Here, you'll find everything from CNN.com to YouTube cooking channels. But you might not realize what you're seeing online is only a fraction of what's really out there. Vast networks called the Deep and Dark Web are what's hiding beneath the surface.
You've probably heard about the Dark Web before, but there's a good chance the term "Deep Web" is less familiar to you. It's not as widely discussed as the Dark Web, even though it's much larger. And, the Dark Web sometimes gives the Deep Web a bad name because the two are often mistaken for one another. Click here to see five common myths about the Dark Web.
The Deep Web, however, is everything on the internet that isn't easily accessible to the average internet user. In many cases, you need a special web browser to access its content. In others, the content is hidden behind the firewall and security protection of private networks - typically, small businesses and corporations.
What regular search engines are missing
Nine times out of 10, a regular Google search will suffice and bring back the results you're looking for. However, search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing only have access to information that has been indexed. This means any site that's marked as private can pretty much go undetected.
Just think of all the information that's being shared right under our noses. If you'd like to do a deeper search, these web browsers are what you need.
Easing away from Google is no easy task. We've all become so familiar with how the search engine works, and how it will display our results. So, one of the best places to start is a site called Deeperweb.com. This search engine is powered by Google, so it organizes your results similarly to what you're used to.
This powerful search engine pulls its results from Google, Yahoo, and Yandex, digging specifically through the metasearch engine for the information you need. The benefit to you is that every search engine has its own method and algorithms for searching, and Dogpile uses all of them to pull the most extensive results.
DuckDuckGo is a solid Google replacement, and it doesn’t track or target your IP address or search history. So, you don’t have to worry about targeted ads or being trapped in a search filter bubble, which actually means you get more results. You can also make DuckDuckGo an extension of your browser and activate more privacy settings to keep your search history as protected as possible.
This Google-type site called Yippy goes beyond producing search results and blocks adult content, including pornography, gambling sites, and other inappropriate websites.
Plus, the site protects your privacy. It will not collect personally identifiable information about you, like your name, telephone number, address or email address. That is, as long as you're in the United States. "Yippy will not track a U.S. citizen for any reason" unless required by court order, subpoena or required by law. If you're not in the U.S., Yippy said you're subject to tracking so that it can comply with government required protocols.
If you're considering Tor as an option for web browsing, be sure to do your homework. This free software has a dark side. Not the software itself, but the places to where it grants access on the internet. Tor gives you access to the Dark Web, a portion of the internet that is often used for illegal activities. However, there could also be information shared on the Dark Web that isn't shared anywhere else. Reporters often use Tor to uncover new leads or communicate privately with their sources.
Specialty search engines
When you're hunting for information, sometimes you know exactly what you're looking for, and sometimes you don't. The sites above will help you search through a broad scope of information out there. However, when you need to narrow it down, these are amazing specialty databases you should check out.
- Archive.org: Non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music and more.
- Library of Congress: Sift through historical archives from the Civil War, Great Depression, World War I, World War II and other monumental events that shaped our country.
- Osti.gov: Wondering what the government has been up to with all of its research? This helpful search engine puts that information right at your fingertips.
- Smithsonian Libraries: Collections covering everything from anthropology to zoology.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Remember all of the information held in the Encyclopedia Britannica? It's still available. Here's where you'll find it.
- Pipl.com: Want to know what's out there on the internet associated with your name, or a loved one? This site will search the Deep Web for that information.
A word of warning
One of the biggest advantages to common search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, is that they provide a certain level of protection. In the same way, it's less likely for a robbery to take place in broad daylight, it's also less likely for someone to post illegal things out in the open.
For this reason, the Dark Web has become the home to some pretty horrific online activity. Click here and listen to our special podcast explaining the Dark Web, and the things you should avoid.