What is Dark Web, how to access it and what’s the difference between Dark and Deep Web?

Three “deep” questions you may wish to ponder yourself on, what are these and maybe what is the relationship?

For me, something dark always conjures up the sinister.  Just like Pink Floyds ‘Dark side of the moon’, though great music but your imagination can conjure Earth being under threat! (But what is on the dark aspect of the planet?)
What is the Dark Web
When one thinks about astronomy, and you look at the sky at night, the word ‘infinity’ immediately comes to mind as it’s never ending. The infinity perspective could be relevant to the ‘dark web‘!!

In the ‘Art’ arena ‘The hunt in the forest‘ by Italian artist Paolo Uccello depicts the hunt disappearing into the dark forest.

Or conversely, when considering World War 2 in Europe, engulfed with Nazism.  The dark epitome of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, where he depicts his ideology for Germany.

Thus, ‘Dark’ has many connotations!!

So I don’t have technical resources, nor the strength of character to venture into the Deep or Dark Web. However I will be a theorist, looking at them from a distance, yet giving a pragmatic view of security should you consider venturing forward.

So whether it’s Deep or Dark Web, there is a fine line between both and of course there’s the ‘Risk’ in venturing there, and it’s your Risk.

The Web

I wish to commence this article by viewing the web as a whole entity. What may be unknown to many as we use the web for daily requirements, that it’s also referred to as the ‘clearnet’ or ‘surface web’.

It’s made up of 14.5 billion web pages and growing, so it’s readily available by using typical search engines.  In the main it’s unencrypted, this with small base anonymity as users are identified by their IP addresses.

The Web as we know it, is accessible and indexed, then again with over 14 billion pages, who would need more!!

Typical trade in the deep and dark areas

What constitutes regular trading, well it leaves nothing to your imagination, but the usual things you could trade for are:

  • Botnets
  • Bitcoin services
  • Darknet markets
  • Hacking groups and services
  • Fraud services
  • Hoaxes and unverified content
  • Phishing and scams
  • Puzzles
  • Illegally and unethical disputed pornography; and
  • Terrorism

Though some of these appear innocuous, it’s their content is the focus. Needless to say, the trade is in Bitcoin to meet up with all the offensive of the underworld, bordering on the unimaginable.

I found this objectionable to précis on, yet it is important to cover for the completeness for this article.   The further you go, such is the depravity!!

Deep Web/Dark Web

I’ve always maintained that the internet is a fantastic repository, though with a very dark side to it, and here we are!!

In simplistic terms, it’s that part of the internet which isn’t accessible by search engines like Google, Ask or a myriad of others.

Both Deep and Dark Web are non-indexed, access to both is via Tor. So what is Tor? ‘Tor originated as free software to enable anonymous and secure communication‘. It’s a double edged sword, with positives and negatives.

Tor is based on ‘The onion routing project’ which was developed in the mid-1990s at the US naval research laboratories. With further refining by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1998.

A question I have here, can we now thank the US Navy for the problems we have today and that of the cyber criminal?

A picture tells a thousand words or as the saying goes. However in this case, I consider it very relevant. Onion routing is:
deep dark web tor accessIn this example onion, the source of the data sends the onion to Router A, which removes a layer of encryption to learn only where to send it next and where it came from (though it does not know if the sender is the origin or just another node). Router A sends it to Router B, which decrypts another layer to learn its next destination. Router B sends it to Router C, which removes the final layer of encryption and transmits the original message to its destination.

The Dark Web is that part of the World Wide Web that exists on darknets. It’s an overlay of networks that utilise the public Internet, but requires special configurations and authorization to access it.

Deep Web

deep web analogy SG

Image credit: http://www.sickchirpse.com

A good analogy of the deep web is depicted in the following:
Just like the iceberg much is below the surface, resident on the deep web, deep net, invisible web or hidden web.  Its size is 400 to 500 larger than the surface web consisting of 7.5 petabytes. Much of the deep webs information is buried far down, as such traditional search engines are unable to classify it.

In 2004 research estimated that the worldwide web had more than 300,000 websites and in 2006 there were 14,000 in Russia alone.

I won’t venture into the hypothesis of indexing methodologies, yet I will allow my statement that a picture tells a thousand words as depicted above.

Dark side – the dark web

When it comes to the dark web, the websites are publicly visible though their IP addresses of the servers that run them aren’t. Their identity is hidden by using Tor encryption, so it’s not black magic, and there’s the catch!

The principle is that both ends of a connection need to be running Tor, as IP addresses are bounced through layers of encryption as equal to the location.

Secrecy is layered; hence, its magnitude is multiplied, it’s having the knowledge to use Tor that could be perceived as the lynch-pin. Some users don’t use Tor but employ I2P the principle is the same.

An important thing to note, that there are legitimate reasons for using the dark web. It could be for journalistic purposes, or if a person is living in a totalitarian regime, it’s not all the bad things in life, as I said earlier there are positives.

So in principle, the deep web refers to all web pages that can’t be found, including registration forms, databases, pages for paywall etc. The key thing is not knowing how to gain access to the data, and of course, there’s always the question of encryption.

The dark internet does exist, be it for scientific purposes or tabloid rationale. I would strongly proffer; the cyber criminal is also resident, and the dark side will prevail.

There are software, advice and a host of other tools relevant to implementing Tor or learning about the dark side, be it deep web or dark web.  However I reserve the right to refrain from this, but if you wish to go forward, it’s your freedom and risk to do so.


So should you wish to venture into the deep or dark, Tor or I2P would be your next step? Apart from Tor and I2P, you can add VPN on the way of your journey to access deep or dark web – if you really want to. This would not be for the faint hearted nor the newcomer to computers, as I stated within this article, it’s your ‘Risk’.

I’ve enjoyed researching this subject, maybe one day I could go into the Dark unknown though that has yet to unfold.  If you decide to take that step, be safe, be careful.

Don’t forget to spread the word!



What is Dark Web, how to access it and what’s the difference bet…

by Howard Smith time to read: 5 min