Two terms that get thrown about to describe parts of the Internet not accessible to the average person are Deep Web and Dark Web. Some people use the terms interchangeably but they are two separate entities and one of them is used by just about everyone on the Internet.

The term Dark Web came to light a few years ago when the website Silk Road was busted by the FBI. Silk Road and other sites like them were used to trade all kinds of illegal goods and services, from drugs and narcotics to looking for a hitman. The Dark Web is not easy to access as it is not designed to stay in one Internet location for too long, lest the FBI, Interpol or other law enforcement agency track it down, infiltrate it or shut it down. For us, as mere web-mortals, we are not able to access it. Access is granted through the use of specialized software programs like Tor as a way to allow in only those who should be there so that the criminal activity can be conducted in a safe and private manner. Occasionally law enforcement or an informant is able to slip in so that information can be gathered. It is in many ways the black market of the web.

The Dark Web is a part of the Deep Web but because it is cut off from the normal Internet it is not indexed by search engines. The specialized software that is used to access the Dark Web can provide anonymity for users and even allow for anonymous hosting of websites. The encryption used means that the users cannot be tracked and any information transmitted can only be decrypted by an authorized user. The users’ IP address and geolocation also cannot be tracked nor can the host’s.This anonymity as mentioned already serves as a magnet for criminal activity. One of the popular domains for the Dark Web is .onion, giving rise to the nickname Onionland. Onion routing is used meaning man different layers of encryption have to be peeled back to uncover the next destination of a packet. Each layer knows only the location of the two nodes before and after it.

Child pornography and a market for weapons and narcotics are the most commonly hosted sites so it should be obvious why those users would like anonymity. Whistleblowing and hacking sites are also common on the Dark Web as are cryptocurrency and fraud related sites as well as mail order services. Hoaxes and what has become known as fake news also has a large presence here and can be found on numerous discussion boards. The Dark Web is also looked at as a lucrative business opportunity by legitimate businesses and many social media platforms, including Facebook, have a Dark Web version as do many e-commerce platforms.

The Deep Web is nowhere near as notorious. Have you ever logged into an online portal to check your email? Have you ever logged into your account. You’ve logged into the Deep Web. Congratulations! All the Deep Web is something that is blocked off from the regular Internet that only a select few or one individual can access. Nothing nefarious about that! This is something that is used by nearly everyone who accesses the web multiple times a day.

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