What is the deep web?

A part of the World Wide Web that is hidden from search engines such as Google, and is only accessible to a specific group or through a special browser.

The Long Explanation

The “deep web” is the opposite of what is known as the “visible”, “surface”, or “clear” web. According to most estimates, the deep web accounts for between 96% and 99% of the global internet. 

This is the web beyond the surface. Content on the surface is indexed by search engines, and can be easily found using keywords and phrases. But this isn’t the case for the deep web which isn’t indexed, and which may be protected via sophisticated firewalls.

To access content on the deep web, you’d need to have the direct URL for the website. Most likely, too, you’d need to be authenticated by the website first before you proceed. Interestingly, obscure as it may seem, much of the websites we visit each day are a part of the deep web. 

For instance, social media websites may contain detailed profile information, private messages and posts with limited viewership. Access to such content is limited to only those with the right authentication.

Likewise, cloud services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Amazon AWS among others, serve as private vaults with data for individuals, corporations, or websites. Email inboxes, bank accounts, and the private databases that power most corporations are also part of the deep web.

In fact, majority of the content on the deep web is made up of statistics and private databases. This includes regular businesses collecting data from their users/employees, to government agencies collecting tons of demographic or business data, and even trading data used by Exchange Commissions. 

The second largest part of the deep web, though, is an interesting place known as the “dark web”. The two terms might seem similar, but they aren’t. The dark web is only a part of the entire deep web where anonymity reigns supreme.

Content on the dark web can’t be accessed using regular browsers like Chrome or Firefox. Instead, those looking to access the dark web must use a special browser like Tor browser. Websites on the dark web also use a “.onion” ending instead of endings like “.com”, “.org”, “.gov”, etc.

Because of the anonymity of users of the dark web, it has become a hotbed for criminal activity. It is often associated with the illegal trading of drugs, guns, fake IDs, etc. But its anonymity also provides great privacy benefits for anonymous activists and whistleblowers.

Synonyms & Antonyms

Synonyms of deep web include:

  • Invisible web
  • Hidden web

Antonyms of deep web include:

  • Surface web
  • Visible web
  • Clear web
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