Darknet, Dark Web, Deep Web, and Surface Web — every tech enthusiast had come across these terminologies without knowing its actual meaning. Sometimes even the experts get confused with these terms too.
We hope this post will clear some air and help you understand these often confused terms.
So what is the difference between Darknet, Dark Web, Deep Web, and Surface Web?
The World Wide Web (WWW) is the part of the web that we can see. However, we can say that it is only the tip of the iceberg and that underneath there is much more.
In short, we can say they are the different parts of the World Wide Web, where websites have different access rights, where Darknet is the darker side of the web while the Surface web is the lighter side.
Did you know only about 4% of the internet is accessible through search engines like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. The remaining 96% of web content is only accessible with special tools and software — browsers and other protocols beyond direct links or credentials.
So guess how vast is the darker side of the World Wide Web where hides online criminals, military secrets, hacker profiles, black markets like Silk Road, drugs, hitmen, etc.
So we will start to explain from the darker side to the lighter side :
Darknet vs. Dark Web vs. Deep Web vs. Surface Web — The Difference
Darknet is an overlay network — a network built on top of the internet — which has been designed specifically for anonymity. Means darknet is meant to be hidden.
The Darknet is an encrypted network on the World Wide Web. Two typical darknet types are friend-to-friend networks and privacy networks such as Tor, I2P, Freenet, DN42, etc. It is necessary to use special tools or browsers and specific software like Tor to enter — this type of browser provides anonymity to users.
Actually, Darknet and Dark Web are related to each other. As we already told, Darknet is a network built over the internet where the term Dark Web refers to websites on a darknet. It is estimated that it would occupy only 0.1% of the total.
Dark Web is pages on servers that cannot be accessed by a search engine (or indeed, a user) without an appropriately permissioned account. Like Darknet, Dark Web is a space that we can only access through anonymous tools such as the Tor network.
Large-scale illegal activity happens on the Dark Web. This is the space used by the internet black market, where we can find malware for sale, drugs, weapons, forged documents.
Also, Dark Web sites do go down from time to time due to their dark nature. But if you want good customer service, stay out of the dark.
Why use Tor to access Darknet and Dark Web?
As it is restricted to ordinary browsers, we need some special tools to access the darker side of the web. And the most well-known and most-used one out there is — Tor, short for The Onion Router, which routes traffic to dark web sites through layers of encryption to allow for anonymity.
Tor encrypts the data, including the destination, multiple times and sends it through a circuit of randomly selected Tor relays. Each relay decrypts a layer of encryption to reveal only the next relay in order to pass the remaining encrypted data on. The final Tor relay decrypts the innermost layer of encryption and sends the original data to its destination without revealing, or even knowing, the source address — quite complicated, right!!! Just remember we use TOR to access the dark side of the internet.
Now moving forward — above the Dark Web, there exists Deep Web. Deep Web is also on the darker side of the internet because, like Dark Web, Deep Web content cannot be found or directly accessed via web search engines like Google or Bing, and that, therefore, we cannot access it easily. It also represents the majority of the network.
As we already mentioned, 96% of online content is found on the Deep Web and the Darknet. The Deep Web includes private servers and pages, some payment transmission service or the files that we store in the cloud, webmail, and online banking and paid for services with a paywall such as video on demand, and many more. Minimal illegal activities are also happening on Deep Web.
Unlike Dark Web, Deep Web doesn’t require Tor like special browsers. Instead requires a direct link to access sites that are purposefully designed to keep search crawlers out.
Surface Web — also called the Visible Web, Indexed Web, Indexable Web, or Lightnet — is that portion of the World Wide Web that is readily available to the general public and searchable with standard web search engines. It is the opposite of the Deep Web.
Summarized Difference Between Darknet, Dark Web, Deep Web, and Surface Web :
|Darknet vs Dark Web vs Deep Web vs Surface Web|
|Darknet/Dark Web||Restricted to special browsers|
Not indexed for Search Engines
Large scale illegal activity
Unmeasurable due to nature
|Deep Web||Accessible by password, encryption, or through gateway software|
Not indexed for Search Engines
Little illegal activity outside of Dark Web
Huge in size and growing exponentially
Indexed for Search Engines
Little illegal activity
Relatively small in size