As far definitions go the Deep Web is defined as parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard search engines for any reason. Now if you’re like most people, that explanation doesn’t really cut it for you. It didn’t for me either. So let me try put it this way. What we see of the internet, you know, Facebook, Twitter, Google et al, figuratively speaking, is just the bare tip of the iceberg that is the Internet. There are a billion, no scratch that, a gazillion websites and webpages that we have no access because search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL (Wait who?) don’t index these pages when you usually hit search.
Still don’t get it? Let’s use an example. Head over to Google (or whichever search engine you prefer, I’m not judging you if you don’t use Google, really) and search for Facebook, literally just type in “Facebook”. What you now see, is a bunch of links to Facebook’s home page, various search results and a whole lot of other Facebook related stuff. What you DON’T see, are the thousands of mails you receive from Facebook or the friend requests or messages you have received on your Facebook profile. Now those mails or messages are on the internet too aren’t they? So why don’t they show up when you hit search? Well, that, is because of the encryption these websites use. Remember the password you set up? Yeah well that, in some way, stops search engines from indexing or rather showing this private data when you hit search. So basically speaking all the websites hidden behind passwords come under the category of Deep Web, be it Facebook or Google Drive or even your shopping list on Amazon everything’s on the deep web.
Now that doesn’t sound too spicy does it? If you clicked on this article hoping to get a dig at the place that led to the famous Silk Road shutdown in 2013, you’re actually looking for the dark web, which is a small, and as the name suggests Darker part of the deep web. Now this leads us to the question..
What is the Deep Web?
The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them. Thus they can be visited by any web user, and it is extremely difficult to work out who’s actually pulling the strings behind the sites. Again, you cannot find these sites using search engines.
Now most of the websites on the so called “Dark Web” use the Tor encryption tool. Tor can be used to hide your identity, and/or spoof your location. Thereby when you use Tor for a website it gives you the same result, of course on a much, much bigger scale.
To visit a site on the Dark Web that is using Tor encryption, the user needs to be using Tor. Just as the user’s IP is bounced through several layers of encryption to appear to be at another IP address on the Tor network, so is that of the website. So there are several layers of magnitude more secrecy than the already secret act of using Tor to visit a website on the open internet – for both parties.
You should note that not all Dark Web sites use Tor. Some use similar services such as I2P. But the principle remains the same. The visitor has to use the same encryption tool as the site and – crucially – know where to find the site, in order to type in the URL and open the website.
Now the Dark web reached the peak of its fame after the bust of the aforementioned Silk Road which was a pretty shady drug laundering web site. The media, being what it is started overhyping the Dark Web and in more than one instance confused it with the deep web which led to the mass belief that the Deep Web and Dark Web were one and the same, which as you just found out, isn’t the case.
So now that you have an idea of what the Dark Web essentially is, let’s find out how you can actually access it.
How to Access the Deep Web?
As said before to access a website that uses Tor, you need to use Tor. Now our normal browsers do not use Tor encryption and therefore you’ll have to use a browser that does. The Tor Browser Bundle is what you’re looking for here. You can download it for free HERE. After you download the tool all you need to do is hit install and you’re good to go.
What you do next, dear reader, is entirely up to you. For starters you could head over to the Hidden Wiki, which is a somewhat compiled and categorized list of the websites you can access. Reddit Forums are also a great source to find out new Deep Web websites. But do be vary! The weird and gross websites you’ve just heard about? They do exist. The Dark Web is also notoriously famous for the countless drugs or weapon selling websites. To be honest, no one really knows about everything that’s out there, so no one can really tell you whether heading over is a good or bad idea. That is your decision entirely.
If you want to hear some stories about the Dark Web before you head in you can read up on https://www.reddit.com/r/deepwebexperiences/
A guide for noobs? Here it is: https://www.reddit.com/r/deepweb/comments/52xxzu/read_me_noobs_the_short_faq/
Again, all what see and do on the Dark Web is truly and completely at your own risk. (Nothing like fear to feed curiosity, is there? 😉 )