What is the Deep Web? You’ve probably asked that question quite a few times by now, the problem is the internet has more myths and pseudo-truths about the Deep web than facts and that’s what I aim to eradicate throughout this piece.
Did you know the deep web is completely legal? Yeah! It’s just one of the examples of how the internet and media has twisted the truth about the deep web over the past couple decades.
I aim to make this one of the best-ever guides on the Internet about the deep web, and here’s a brief insight into the topics I’d be discussing:
- What is the Deep Web?
- What can be found on the Deep Web?
- What is the Dark Web and how is it Different from the Deep Web?
- What can be found on the Dark Web?
- How to secure yourselves before and after accessing the Deep Web?
- How to Access the Deep Web?
- Explanations about the Deep Web being Legal.
What is the Deep Web?
The simplest definition for the deep web I can come up with is “It is any and all content which is unindexed, and can’t be found via traditional search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc”.
Now, the websites that we generally use and access, such as this one are on the “clearnet”. It’s not public knowledge, but the clearnet sites, such as Facebook, Google, Youtube, blogs etc amount to only for around 5% of the total internet!
The other 90-95% of the internet is unindexed and hence is termed as the Deep Web.
Also, most of the general public never gets access to the unindexed content or the Deep web, whatever we need, can almost always be found on the clearnet and easily too via search engines and most people are satisfied with that.
Note that the “Deep web” and the “Dark web” are two separate things, which we will discuss in detail later, but for now note that even though the two terms are used interchangeably by the misguided or less-educated, they are quite different.
What can be Found on the Deep Web?
Not everyone is well-versed in the “Internet Language” so maybe you still didn’t understand when I said the deep web consists of “Unindexed content”.
How do we find most of the content we need on the internet? Nope, we do not know the websites or links for all the content we need, rather we key-in a keyword on a search engine, get millions of results, click on any of them to reach a website. That’s how we use the internet, don’t we?
So, all of these results or contents which are available on a Search Engine are “indexed” content, which users can find easily.
But, a larger part of the internet is “hidden” and not shown to the public, for e.g. you may get access to a website and its content, but you don’t get access to its code, theme files, visitor logs, etc.
That’s what the Deep web consist of, here are some of the things you can find on the Deep web (exclusively talking about the Deep web, excluding the dark web) which should further clarify this explanation-
- Password protected pages.
- Attendance records, Medical certificates etc.
- Bank records.
- Encrypted Chat Messages (Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger etc)
- E-mails sent between users.
- Purchase-requiring content when not indexed on Search Engines (songs/ videos, courses etc).
So in a nutshell, the content which exists on the Internet, but can’t be accessed via Search Engines, or requires special permission is deep web content.
Some websites also intentionally “de-index” themselves, so that they can only be accessed by people who know the exact URLs, these websites too are a part of the deep web, and host thing such as harmless discussions on conspiracy theories and other such stuff.
As you may have guessed by now, not all un-indexed content is “illegal” or harmful, which further enforces my statement that the Deep web isn’t illegal, it’s purely “non-indexed” content, nothing more.
Although, you’ll understand once I bring out the differences between the deep and the dark web.
What is the Dark Web and how is it Different from the Deep Web?
The “Dark Web” is what people are “actually” referring to when they’re talking about the dangerous, illegal deep web.
Basically, the “Dark web” is a deeper but smaller part of the deep web, and this is what the Deep web is almost always confused with.
Now the “Dark Web” too is unindexed, and hence is a part of the deep web but it’s termed the “Dark web” because the content available over there isn’t only illegal, but also rare.
Products such as drugs, weapons, child pornography, fake documents and everything else which you can’t find on the clearnet, or in the real-world shops or markets can be found on the Dark web.
Even though the Deep and the Dark web have a thin line between them, the line exists and there are some core points using which separate the Deep from the Dark web.
Here are the differences between the Deep web and the Dark Web:
- Dark web is a “part” of the Deep Web. Deep web is the larger set while the dark web is just a subset.
- Every dark web content is automatically also deep web content (because it’s illegal, so it’s not indexed), but not all deep web content can be termed as being of Dark web.
- Accessing the deep web isn’t always illegal, you may believe in conspiracy theories or things like that which may be unindexed and still legal, while everything and anything on the dark web is illegal.
- The deep web also exists on the clearnet, as almost every site has codes and other elements which aren’t indexed, but the dark web doesn’t exist on the clearnet, and exists solely on the “Tor” network (onion network).
What is the Tor Network?
I just mentioned the Tor network, and it’s a major part of both the deep as well as the dark web so let me explain what it is in brief.
The Tor network is also called the Onion network, and it’s the part of the internet which can’t be traced or tracked as easily as the clearnet, and that’s the reason why dark web sites exist over there.
Your activities, IP addresses, choices, likes and dislikes and lot’s of other data is traced and tracked on the clearnet, while the Onion network is a lot more privacy-respecting network and doesn’t store information related to you, or your activities which makes it an excellent choice for users who love to keep their privacy private.
Despite the advanced features and capabilities of the Tor network, accessing the same is quite easy, all you need is the Tor Browser.
The Tor browser is a free, anonymous, decentralized browser which also is open-source and run by volunteers across the globe, you can simply enter URLs on the browser to access the sites on the deep dark web.
Note that the dark web sites do not have extensions such as .com / .net / .org etc, as these are clearnet domain extensions and can be traced quite easily.
On the contrary, these sites makes use of .onion extensions, which can only be accessed on an onion-supported browser such as Tor.
So in a nutshell, the Onion network is like the part of the internet where dark web sites exist, although obviously a lot of legal sites also make use of the .onion extension so the onion network isn’t a “illegal sites only network”.
Basically, any site with .onion extension is a site on the Tor network, and can be easily accessed with a Tor browser, although the site may or may not be illegal.
What is on the Dark Web?
Before I take you further on how to access the dark internet, let me be very clear on what can be found on the Dark web so you’re absolutely sure of what you’re getting into.
The Dark web is basically like your real-world black market, it’s just on the “internet”. A large part of the dark web is dominated by “Dark web markets”. These are marketplaces just like Ebay and Amazon, where you can find any and everything and order them just like you do on general E-commerce websites.
Empire Market, Dream Market, WallStreet Market are some of the most popular dark web marketplaces, which let you buy/sell or procure the following services with ease:
- Various types of drugs.
- Hacked software
- Stolen credit cards and bank details.
- Fake documents such as Passports and Visas.
- Hacking services.
- In some cases, you can even hire Hitman and contract killers.
Apart from darknet markets, the dark web also is a hub for things such as Child Pornography, and red rooms.
Red rooms are rooms where real human beings and animals are tortured, raped and even murdered, and all of this is streamed live for the audience, at a price. In some red rooms even requests from the audience is taken on how to torture and kill the victims.
These are just some of the things available on the Dark web, although obviously the actual list of things available extends far beyond the above-mentioned things, but I’m sure you’re getting the idea of what is and isn’t available. (The isn’t list I believe is non-existent when it comes to the Dark web).
How to Secure Yourselves before Accessing the Deep/Dark Web?
Before I teach you how to how to get to the deep web, you need to know that the Deep/Dark web isn’t a very nice place to stroll around and hence you need to make sure there aren’t any loopholes or problems you may fall into.
First of all, you need to make sure there are no digital traces leading back to you associating you with your deep/dark web activities.
So, first of all you’ll need a VPN. A VPN is a “Virtual Private Network”, it may sound complicated but it’s just a software which hides your actual IP address, and assigns you a secondary IP which can’t be linked back to you.
There are many popular VPNs out there, although my favourite and first choice is NordVPN, but yes you can go with other trusted options such as IPVanish and ExpressVPN as well.
Once you get a VPN, it not only hides your real IP address, but also encrypts your internet traffic and protects you from hackers and snoopers.
Anyway, once you’ve got the VPN you can be sure that your IP won’t lead back to you, and then you’re going to need the Tor browser. As I mentioned earlier, it’s one of the best dark web browsers which would let you browse the .onion sites, these sites can’t be accessed on general browsers such as Chrome or Firefox and so the Tor browser isn’t an option, rather a mandatory requirement in order to access the dark web.
And finally, there’s PGP encryption which you should use to your benefit. It’s an encryption which lets you encrypt your messages, E-mail and other communication so that it can’t be intercepted by govt. agencies and third party hackers. Make sure whenever you’re sending your shipping address or any other details over the dark web, it’s always encrypted with PGP.
Another step or precaution you need is never use your real name, e-mail ID or any other real-life details which can be linked back to you. They should be as random as possible.
You also need to know that more than half the sites and sellers on the Dark web can’t be trusted, and are just scammers. That’s so because it’s already an illegal arena, so you can’t exactly go to the authorities about it.
So you need to be very careful about who you deal with and what you’re buying. But that’s about it, so in a nutshell, the three weapons you need in your arsenal to be safe on the deep/dark web is:
- Tor Browser.
- PGP Encryption.
So hey, we’ve beaten around the bush quite a bit, let’s finally get you what you came here for, here’s how to access the deep web.
How to Access the Deep Web?
I’m sure you know by now that the interesting stuff, or what you actually wish to access is the “Dark web” and not the deep web.
So, the very first thing you need when you wish to access the deep/dark web is URLs. And because dark web URLs are .onion and because they’re pretty long, and consist of random numbers and alphabets, you can’t exactly memorize them.
So you need to find them, one of the best resources to find Deep web URLs are subreddits. Simply head over to this official Darkweb subreddit and you’ll find quite a few URLs there.
Or, you can go here https://www.thedarkweblinks.com/ , Here I shared working deep web .onion links with descriptions about the links letting you know beforehand what the link will be about before you click on these links.
Once you have these deep web sites links, simply copy paste any one of these links on Tor browser, and you should be on the deep web site soon enough, station darkweb has arrived!
So basically once you have the URLs you wish to access, and the Tor browser, you can access the dark or deep web just like any other normal website.
Is the deep web illegal?
One of the major misconceptions about the Deep web is that it’s illegal, well it’s not. Infact many popular and legal sites such as Facebook have their .onion versions, so obviously not everything on the onion network or the deep web is illegal.
Another legal use of the Deep web are sites like ProPublica, which are anonymous whistle blowing sites which anyone can use to share exposing documents or truths about powerful people or agencies.
Let me establish the fact that the deep/darkweb/.onion sites are not always illegal.
Anyone who tells you otherwise, simply show them this site:
ciadotgov4sjwlzihbbgxnqg3xiyrg7so2r2o3lt5wz5ypk4sxyjstad – CIA – I believe this is the most perfect “the .onion network isn’t illegal” example. If it was, the CIA wouldn’t have an official deep web version now, right? As far as legal usage goes, you can contact the CIA, or just read the news from them, anonymously on this onion version.
facebookcorewwwi – Facebook – This is one of my favorite “the deep web/ onion network isn’t always illegal” proofs. Facebook wouldn’t have created its .onion version if it was illegal, would it? Just like the CIA website above, this version too exists just for added anonymity and privacy while still being 100% legal.
3g2upl4pq6kufc4m – Duck Duck Go – This is probably “the” most privacy-respecting search engine on the planet. It doesn’t track you across the web, doesn’t store logs and obviously doesn’t sell any data. Duck Duck Go too is a globally recognized company and their TOR presence too proves the onion network isn’t illegal.
bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy – BBC – You’ve heard of BBC, haven’t you? This is their deep web counterpart. It allows users to read and interact with articles without compromising their privacy. The site is an exact mirror of its clearnet version. Again, this proves the Tor network/ unindexed web or the deep web isn’t always illegal.
The only reason these sites are on the onion network is because then you can use the sites without being afraid of the consequences as whatever you share or do over there can’t be traced back to you.
Also, the govt. and media portray the deep web as illegal for two primary reasons.
The first being, illegal content is sure available on some of these deep web sites.
The other, more important and indirect reason is, the deep web is uncensored.
So, you may get access to confidential data, some truth the govt. wants to hide from you, and other such stuff.
And hence, the govt. wishes to keep its secrets to itself, because it can’t control the deep web, it tries to paint it in bad light.
So yes, the onion network and the deep web are both legal, it’s only the dark web which is illegal and may cause problems for you.
Also note that, simply “browsing” the dark web can’t necessarily land you in jail, as long as you don’t buy or sell anything which is legally controlled.
So that’s a wrap as far as this piece on what is the deep web, I’m sure it also cleared doubt such as “What is the Dark web” didn’t it? Yeah that was my intention all along.
I wouldn’t stretch the thread anymore, just let me know if you learned how to access the Deep web and if your doubts have been cleared, if not use the comment box down there to let me know of your problems and I’ll answer as many of them as possible to the best of my knowledge.