While many of us have heard about the Deep Web and Dark Web, it is essential to distinguish between the two terms as they are not interchangeable, even though they do overlap significantly.
What most people think of as the “Internet” or the world wide web is actually what is known as the Surface Web. This is the part of the Internet that is visible to search engines like Google and accessible via normal web browsers. However, the Surface Web represents only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the internet – the majority of it is actually hidden.
The Deep Web, which includes sites accessible via normal browsers but not visible to search engines, makes up a much larger portion of the Internet. The Dark Web, which is only accessible via special web browsers, uses the same network infrastructure as the Surface and Deep Web but is completely distinct from it.
The Surface Web, Deep Web, and Dark Web are all valuable sources of threat intelligence, but many organizations limit their information-gathering efforts to the Surface Web. Expanding their reach – through the use of Dark Web monitoring tools – can be invaluable to a corporate cybersecurity and risk management program.
What is the Deep Web?
Not all of the Internet is intended for public consumption. Some web pages are designed for restricted use and are protected by registration portals, paywalls, etc. These deep web sites are not indexed by search engines, making them impossible to find via Google, Bing, etc.
Unlike the dark web, sites on the deep web can be accessed using normal web browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. Also, these sites are often linked to publicly accessible pages, making them findable and accessible by users with the right login credentials and willingness to pay. For example, sites like Netflix are reachable from search engines, but the videos hosted on the site are only accessible to users who have created an account and paid a subscription fee.
Deep web sites include private databases, restricted content, and other sources of in-depth information about companies and their operations. This makes these sites valuable sources of information if the content is accessible. However, the access restrictions on the deep web can make this information more complex and difficult to access.