In this giant and unfathomable ecosystem called Internet, it is likely that you will sound the concepts Deep Web, Dark Web and Darknet and even that you have used them as synonyms in an ill-advised way. Do you really know the differences between these terms?
Far from the dominion of the almighty Google and the rest of conventional search engines, the hidden or deep Internet extends, better known by the term Deep Web, the land that hosts forbidden content, trafficking in weapons and drugs paid for by Bitcoin, hackers and hit men.
7.5 petabytes of web information that does not peek at the surface and that can give vertigo lean. Down below you can immerse yourself in a black market where cybercrime, the sale of personal data or even organs and medical records is the order of the day. But what exactly is Deep Web with respect to Dark Web and darknets like the Tor search engine?
We know that the portion of the network that we know and the domains in which we dive are not more than the tip of the iceberg in the vast cybernetic space, but in many occasions we confuse the aforementioned terms. That is why it is necessary to differentiate between Deep Web, Dark Web and Darknet, whose meaning we will unravel in this article.
Deep Web, where search engines do not arrive
Deep Web, especially in its original meaning, is a term that encompasses and describes all non-indexable content in search engines such as Google, such as requests for dynamic databases, paywalls and other elements. In contrast to the Surface Net or clean part of the network, this part of cyberspace is significantly larger, forming 90% of the World Wide Web.
The difference between the Web of the Surface or Web Clean and the Deep Web is that in the first it is possible to track and find the pages through search engines, while for the second it is necessary to use search engines such as Tor, specific applications and in some cases, notions of quantum computing and certain scripts, even passwords or special codes. Deep Web encompasses everything that is online, not public, but hidden and private.
There may be, therefore, from normal pages protected by paywall to others with a disallow in the robots.txt file or dynamic pages generated when consulting a database. This section includes the search engine results pages or bank inquiries, which are generated temporarily and can not be accessed. Another feature with respect to the most superficial Internet is that in this the pages are static, while those of the Deep Web have, as a rule, a dynamic character.
Said in a very generic way, the Deep Web is a compilation of all the restricted or non-indexed content that is outside the conventional or commercial search engines. Let’s go to the Dark Web, which must be included within it.
Dark Web, the dark content (and culture) of the Internet
The DarkWeb or Dark Web is about the public content of the World Wide Web that exists in darknets, networks superimposed on the public Internet and that require specific software, configurations or authorization to access. It is part of the Deep Web or part of the Web not indexed by the search engines, but it is not an analogous term but a small portion of it. Its users define the normal web as Clearnet due to its unencrypted nature.
Although some of its content is innocuous, it also constitutes a haven for criminal activity – which came to light from the popularity of Silk Road and its seizure by the authorities – from racist subcultures to hackers, drug traffickers, drugs or pedophile content. In fact, a study published in December 2014 by Gareth Owen of the University of Portsmouth revealed that 80% of Tor content was videos of child pornography, followed by the black market.
Individual sites with more traffic were dedicated to botnet operations, usually targeting DDOS attacks. You can also find crowdfunding for hit men in virtual currency, cyber fraud and other illegal goods, such as drugs, organs and weapons. Dark Web can only be accessed from specific applications, finding only 0.1% of the World Wide Web. It is already intended to be hidden for commercial engines, using masked IPs and requiring specific software, such as Onion.City, Onion.to, Not Evil or Memex Deep Web Search Engine.
On the other hand, there are specialized news portals such as DeepDotWeb and All Things Vice that provide news coverage and practical information about the spaces and services of the Dark Web. It even has its own Wiki.
Darknets, the independent networks of the Dark Web
Although there is no universally accepted definition, let’s say that if the Dark Web encompasses the hidden content of the Internet, the specific networks that host it are the darknets. The term Darknet was coined in 2002 in the document “The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution” prepared by four Microsoft researchers: Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado and Bryan Willman. These defined it at the time as a revolutionary collection of networks and technologies to share online content.
What is Tor and how does it work?
Therefore, if Dark Web covers all that deliberately hidden content, darknets are the specific networks such as TOR or I2P that host these web pages. The most famous is Tor, anonymous and with its own Darknet, although there are others such as the friend-to-friend network Freenet, I2P or Invisible Internet Project with its Eepsites with extension .i2p or ZeroNet.
Although many people use the term Darknet and Dark Web interchangeably, it is worth noting that the former are hidden networks, while the latter is a broader and more ambiguous concept that encompasses both hosted content and linked culture. to the abyssal depths of the Internet.