The internet is an overwhelmingly large place. With just the click of a button, search engines display tens of thousands of links, images and videos related to your query.

Despite this, did you know that traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo only provide access to a small fraction of the internet? This is what is known as the surface web.

The remaining portion of the world-wide-web is not immediately available to the casual browser and can be found in forums known as the deep and dark webs.

1. Browsing the surface web

The surface web consists of readily available content — as the name conveys, it is the top layer of the internet. Business websites, news articles, social sites, blog posts and other information are all easily accessible with the help of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

These search engines display a variety of websites and search results that come under the surface web, and even though the results seem limitless, the surface web is only 4% of the internet. It makes one wonder how much more information is hidden!

2. Accessing the deep web

The deep web, while not entirely inaccessible, cannot be located through traditional means. Websites and portals found in the deep web don’t show up on search engines and require users to fill out their credentials and input information to gain access.

For example, accessing federal or state databases such as property or court records requires an individual to confirm their identity to secure the data.

The deep web is more valuable for organizations than it is for the general public since companies rely on a lot of technical and legal information to stay in the loop and communicate with one another.

3. Delving into the dark web

When discussing the dark web, the question that often arises is ‘is the dark web illegal?’ The answer is — perhaps surprisingly — no. Accessing the dark web may not be illegal, but the content and discussion found in its forums are often criminal.

The dark web is only accessible with the help of particular software (known as the Tor browser) since it requires maximum encryption which allows users browsing the server to remain completely anonymous.

4. Protecting yourself from the deep and dark web

It’s always possible that a user may accidentally stumble upon a platform or website that exposes them to the darker part of the internet and so it is always recommended that you always take necessary precautions to secure yourself. Some timely reminders about online privacy:

  • Be careful of the information that you post or seek out in the deep or dark web. Assuming that the data is secure because it is challenging to locate may backfire on you later, which is why you should think twice before typing a query into the platform.
  • Even with the high levels of encryption and anonymity present while browsing the deep and dark web, you should proceed with caution. No matter which software you use to remain incognito, your identity is always at risk of being uncovered.
  • If you stumble upon the information related to you or your close ones, do not make the mistake of communicating with the source of information.

Private information (such as banking accounts, passport numbers and social media logins) is often sold on the dark web. If you attempt to reach out, you may give clues as to your identity and put yourself at further risk.

The internet is full of a beautiful variety of information and content; however, you must pursue safe browsing methods to avoid hackers and malicious software compromising your system and identity. While browsing the deep web, be wary of the information you are sharing to access data.

If your system is compromised, hackers can quickly obtain your personal information such as bank details, employment data and more.

The dark web should be considered with even more caution due to the magnitude of illegal activities carried out on its platform. Always remain an awareness of security threats that could compromise your system and think twice before divulging information on suspicious websites.