Understanding the Layers of the Internet: Surface vs. Deep vs. Dark
There are more than one billion web pages on the Internet, and 4.8 billion people around the world use the Internet daily. But did you know that only 10% of websites on the Internet are indexed by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines and accessible to the general public? These websites are called the “surface web,” and the other 90% of websites are the “deep and dark web.” These are the layers of the Internet.
Think of the internet as the ocean, with the surface web as the top layer and visible for miles and miles. The deep web, then, is the deeper part of the ocean just below the surface. This is also accessible to people but requires a bit of work to access. The dark web is the very bottom of the ocean and is only accessible to a small number of people who know exactly how to get there and has the resources and time to do it.
Let’s take a look at what kinds of web pages are on each layer (surface, deep, and dark), and what that means to the general Internet user.
What is the Surface Web?
The surface web includes websites that we are all familiar with and likely access on a daily basis. This is the portion of the Internet that is readily available to the general public and searchable with standard web search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The surface web is also known as the “Visible Web.”
The surface web includes websites like:
- Social media sites including Facebook and Instagram
- Business websites such as Everound.com
- Online video sharing platforms like YouTube
Essentially, any website that appears after you complete a search on Google or another search engine is on the surface web.
What is the Deep Web?
Unlike the surface web, the deep web is part of the Internet where the contents are not indexed by search engines. The deep web is only accessible with some sort of authentication – a password or other means to be able to view the data and information. Using the previous ocean analogy, a person needs to have a resource to go “below the surface.”
Why is information on the deep web harder to access? Without authentication, that information is at risk for public consumption.
The deep web contains sensitive information like:
- Personal email accounts
- Content on your social media accounts
- Online banking and investments
- Private online databases
- Medical records and private health information
- Content contained within scientific and academic databases.
A lot of what exists on the deep web consists of personal information that you wouldn’t want to turn up in a web search — like your social security number or credit card information. This is private and could be misused in a data breach.
Remember, if you must provide a username, password, or some other type of authentication, the information you access is on the deep web.
What is the Dark Web?
The dark web IS a part of the deep web but cannot be accessed through traditional web browsers. The dark web is intentionally hidden on the Internet. Originally designed to share information and communicate by the US Military, the dark web is now accessed by others.
Accessing the dark web is not an easy task for the general Internet user. Regular browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are unable to access dark web websites. The dark web uses what’s called The Onion Router (often referred to as Tor) hidden service protocol. “Tor” servers are undetectable from search engines and provide complete anonymity.
Although not all activity on the dark web is harmful, there is a growing population of cybercriminals that use the dark web maliciously and for illicit purposes. Some cybercriminals sell sensitive information on the dark web that can be used to exploit companies and can lead to identity theft. The dark web also is a place where some cyber attacks are planned.
Here are a few examples of what can be found on the dark web:
- Stolen information: If a company experiences a data breach because of a cybersecurity failure, there’s a chance the stolen data may be up for grabs on the dark web. Other stolen information for sale includes login credentials and hacked Netflix and Amazon accounts.
- Illicit substances: Believe it or not, you can find and purchase illicit drugs and toxic chemicals on the dark web. Prescription drugs are also available on the dark web.
- Dangerous and disturbing images and information: Unfortunately, the dark web can be a dangerous and ugly place. Human trafficking, pornography, gore, and counterfeit goods have found a home on the dark web.
The dark web can be a marketplace for illegal behavior. Companies with a cybersecurity plan in place that includes dark web monitoring can stay ahead of cybercrime on the dark web. Employee information can be at risk – logins and passwords are prime data that can be sold and transferred on the dark web.
Website hackers, too, find ways to compromise company networks through the dark web. A dark web monitoring MSP (managed service provider) can help you keep track of any information that may be compromised.
Cybersecurity and Dark Web Monitoring with Everound
As a cybersecurity expert, Everound can help monitor the dark web for your small business or corporate enterprise. Through a strategic, customized and intentional approach, our team of cyber experts will create a cybersecurity dark web monitoring protocol that includes:
- Real-time alerts of dark web threats
- Routine scan of dark web for your business information
- Detection of compromised credentials including IP addresses, email addresses, and logins and passwords
Cybersecurity companies like Everound are experts at preventing cyber threats from infiltrating your business. With more than 30 years of experience, our team of cybersecurity professionals can recommend and implement data protection strategies and programs to help keep your information and your network safe from harm. Reach out today for your free cybersecurity risk assessment. We focus on IT so you can focus on your business.