What You Need to Know About the Deep Web & the Dark Web

The internet has changed human life forever. It changed our schools, our homes, our marriages, and our workplaces. In fact, there are jobs and entire industries that operate solely on the internet. Schools, now more than ever, are using the internet to broaden their horizons. They’re connecting with other schools around the world, using international resources, playing new games, and more. While these are tremendous benefits, they also present some enormous challenges. One of the largest concerns is what might happen if kids find a way onto the deep web. 

Most of what we know about the deep web is that it’s bad, creepy, and dangerous. Naturally, we want to keep our children away from this. But what happens if they’re curious? What happens if they’re led by a friend to one of the many horror games found on the dark web? What if they accidentally stumble onto something they shouldn’t? You’ll find everything you need to know about the dark web, deep web, and Tor Browser below.

What is the Deep Web?

The deep web

The deep web simply refers to the pages on the internet that are not indexed in search engines. In other words, you can’t find them when you perform a search within a search engine like Google. This means you have to know the exact address to the site to access it. The only other way to access a deep web site is to click on a link once you are inside the deep web.

There are legitimate areas of the deep web, including mainstream sites like Netflix. That’s because websites are personalized to users' preferences and aren’t always indexed.

What’s on the deep web?

The deep web includes the internal sites of companies, organizations, and schools. Online databases and password-protected sites may be on the deep web in addition to personal accounts for banking, email, and more. Essentially, most personalized and password-protected sites appear on the deep web because they contain information that is not for release to the general public.

So, just how deep is the deep web?

In 2001, they estimated the deep web to be around 400 to 550 times as big as the surface web which contains 4.5 billion sites. The deep web is the 99% of the internet that you can’t search on a search engine.

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web

The dark web is a part of the internet that isn’t found by normal search engines because the sites located there are not indexed into search engines. While the dark web holds some dark and illegal things, not everything there is illegal. However, it’s not all innocent content. In 2015, approximately 57% of the sites on the dark web hosted illicit material. A more recent study (2019), Into the Web of Profit, shows that 60% of the deep web could harm enterprises and that excludes sites with drug activity.

What’s on the dark web?

The dark web consists mostly of illegal products or content. Some of this may be harmful to the public or companies. Some of those harmful things include credit card numbers, guns, and stolen subscriptions. There is even software that makes it possible for you to remotely access the computers of others.

There’s also access to counterfeit money, other people’s bank accounts, and hackers for hire. Other items found on the dark web include:

  • Drugs
  • Unlicensed guns
  • Fake IDs
  • Hacking tools
  • Stolen credit cards
  • Forums for things that don’t have a place on the regular web
  • Pornography

It’s a place for black markets and scammers who will often use these sites to steal your info or money.

Difference Between Deep Web and Dark Web

From the information above, it may be difficult to discern the dark web from the deep web, but there are key differences between them. For one, the dark web is always part of the deep web, but the deep web is not always the dark web.

Deep Web vs Dark Web

The deep web includes all non-public information such as:

  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Personal banking
  • Personalized Netflix account
  • Blogging administrator pages

Anything that requires a login, such as databases or personal information is part of the deep net. That’s because these pages aren’t indexed to show up in a search engine. You can’t search for your personal bank account on Google. You can only go to the main banking page and then log in. The deep web is everything behind the login. The deep web is also a space for journalists and whistleblowers to share sensitive information anonymously.

The dark web, or black web, on the other hand, is the “unsavory” part of the deep web. Access to the dark web is only possible with specific browsers, such as Tor, because most platforms establish an anonymous connection and mask IP addresses.

Not everything on the dark web is illegal. There’s  a large reading community on the dark web, but  the material can be anything from the Invisible Man to The Anarchist Cookbook. However, there are several black markets on the dark web, the largest being The Silk Road, which authorities shut down with the arrest of creator Ross Ulbricht in 2013.

How does the deep web and dark web work?

The surface web operates on the clearnet, which is secure and encrypted to protect users. The deep web uses the clearnet as well, but with ‘onion layers’. The dark web is a network of encrypted sites accessible through specific browsers. The dark web still uses “the same TCP/IP framework to transmit HTTP and FTP traffic within and between networks, over the same phone, cable or FiOS lines that carry regular internet traffic”. The difference is that overlay networks prevent access with regular web crawlers. That’s why you need additional software to access them.

Is it Illegal to Be on the Deep Web?

The simple answer here is no, it is not illegal to access the deep web. In fact, you do it all the time. Every time you access your bank account, stream tv on your account, enter a database. The threat comes when you access illegal sites or engage in illegal transactions. This includes things such as purchasing unlicensed weapons, child pornography, or worse. In essence, the illegal areas of the deep web belong to the dark web.

Is it Illegal to Be on the Dark Web?

It is technically not illegal to access the dark web through the Tor browser. The United States government and military partially fund the search engine and in order to share information and protect their agents and informants. It is also seen as a right to privacy and encryption, as well as a safe space for journalists and whistleblowers. 

It’s also a great tool in hostile countries where freedom of speech isn’t possible. Citizens in these countries will use it to speak freely, without fear of their government. There are also great resources on cryptocurrency and encryption on the dark web. If you’re looking to install an encrypted email system, you can find tips and resources there. Law enforcement even uses the dark web when they’re looking for stolen data. Of course, it also helps to find perpetrators that may be dealing on the black market. There are also hard-to-find books, censored content, and political news available for access. 

However, some dark web activity is certainly illegal. It’s also dangerous to snoop around the dark web, as some hackers use it to collect your information. It’s also possible that some of the sites are scams to gain access to your personal and financial data. They’re also able to gain access to your computer simply by browsing. 

There is a chance that you don’t know if your activity is illegal. Purchasing guns on the black market is an obvious illegal act, but if you are on a forum that includes threats or violence, legality is not so clear. You may not know that you’re engaging in illegal conduct until you’re flagged by the FBI.

How dangerous is the dark web?

The danger of the dark web comes when you aren’t careful with what you access. You may easily fall victim to hackers and give away personal information without intention.  Or, you could stumble on illegal activity without even realizing it.  There is also potential for psychological damage since there is so much  illegal activity and you may find deeply disturbing material. If you approach the dark web, keep these concerns in mind—especially if you are not technically minded.

Why You Shouldn’t Go On The Deep Web

Many areas of the deep web are not dangerous. They contain the databases of companies and personal information of billions of consumers. You access it regularly. However, when you start exploring the deep web, things can get dangerous. 

Most of the deep web is heavily encrypted to keep hackers out, so most of the time, you won’t be able to access the kinds of information you might be curious about.  

If something is on the deep web, it’s there for a reason. It’s almost always stuff you don’t want to expose yourself to. This includes snuff films, child pornography, hitmen for hire, hackers, and much worse. Stumbling on this stuff could gain attention from the FBI. If this isn’t enough, there are plenty of scams. They may lure you in with tips and tricks to get started hacking, or some useful hacking tool. Then, they’ll use that to access your computer and steal information. In most cases, it’s not worth snooping around on the deep web, and certainly not the dark web.

Keeping Your Kids Safe from Deep Web Games & the Dark Web

There are billions of websites on the internet that are safe and freely accessible, but it’s possible for your kids to be curious enough to search the deep or dark web. Deep web games or deep internet music might draw younger children, while drugs, weapons, and dark web images might draw the interest of older children.

It’s hard to be sure what they’re accessing, but the first thing you should do to protect your children is to check their devices. Search for:

  • (The Onion Router)
  • Subgraph OS
  • ISP (Invisible Internet Project)
  • Tails
  • Opera
  • Whonix
  • Waterfox

Also, articles with “.Onion” in the ”http” belong to the dark web. You won’t be able to look at their search history in these browsers, though you can on the surface web. The next thing you should do is talk to your children about their curiosity.

Mysterious things are intrinsically alluring. Also, as more people access the dark web,  the more of a talking point it becomes. As it becomes a popular topic, the interest rises, especially for children.

To further protect your children, you can install monitoring software and content filtering. These tools allow you to control what they have access to online. You’re able to block sites, filter content using keywords, and monitor what they’re searching for. This ensures they don’t stumble  on things that may be harmful or dangerous. As the internet becomes more intertwined with our lives, it can also become more dangerous. Protections like GoGuardian monitoring and web filtering software are the solution. Keep your children safe with GoGuardian.

  1. GoGuardian Beacon serves as one data point of a school's overall suicide prevention program.