The deep web is a part of the internet that most people can’t access on a day-to-day basis. Pages and sites on the deep web don’t show up in search engine results, so access is very limited. It’s estimated that the deep web is up to five times bigger than the “surface” web, but most of the data it holds will never be seen by the vast majority of internet users.
About the Deep Web
For most people, accessing the internet on a day-to-day basis is as simple as opening up a browser such as Microsoft Edge, Chrome, or Firefox. And most people use the internet to do fairly simple things: streaming TV, movies, and music, using social media, catching up with the news, or shopping online.
But underneath the “surface” internet that everyone is familiar with, there are more layers of information. They’re not as easy to find or access, but they’re there, and are typically accessible to only a small number of people. One of these layers is called the deep web.
The deep web is so-called because it can be thought of as a different layer from the internet that most people are familiar with. If the internet that everyone knows and uses every day is the surface layer, the deep web is a layer underneath that. Think of it like the ocean: the top layer is home to fish and other creatures that most of us are familiar with. The deeper into the ocean you go, the more unfamiliar the animals, and the harder they are to find.
In terms of the internet, the deep web is unfamiliar to most of us, because the information contained there doesn’t show up in search engines. These deep web pages are not indexed, meaning that search engine bots don’t look at these pages, so they’re never added to the search engine. If a web page isn’t indexed, it can never be accessed via a search engine. The only way to find the page is to navigate to it directly – either via a link, or by typing the address in a browser window. In short, if you don’t already know how to find the page, you can’t get there at all.
What Kind of Information is on the Deep Web?
The “surface” internet is huge, with somewhere around 4.5 billion pages content. It’s estimated that the deep web is around 4 to 5 times larger. But while the surface web is full of information and activities that are useful or interesting to large groups of people, on the deep web, information is more specific or personal, and harder to access.
The kinds of information that exist on the deep web are used for legitimate – usually legal – purposes, but for some reason, it’s important that the information isn’t universally accessible. Information that’s stored on the deep web includes:
- All unindexed web pages and websites, including non-indexed sections of mainstream or company websites. For instance, some company websites may include non-indexed pages that are only intended to be accessible to web developers. Non-sensitive company data may be stored on the deep web—but this practice is beginning to fall out of favour, as more secure cloud-based storage becomes widely available.
- Membership-only web pages, such as those behind a paywall, or that require a password to access. This can include anything from news sites, to fan clubs or game clubs, to members-only forums, to online classes and courses.
- Private or semi-private website pages. This includes, for instance, personal wish-list pages on sites such as Amazon, personal Netflix queues, and private groups on social media sites such as Facebook.
- Public records and certificates, such as those held by libraries and other institutions.
- Encrypted information and communications.
- School and university intranet systems.
- Short-term pages that can be accessed by an individual for a limited period of time, such as those for online tests or surveys.
Many different kinds of information can exist on the deep web, but it all has one thing in common: it’s not intended for everyday public use. All of these information types are intended for limited personal use, and the owners of the information may take steps to make sure the information doesn’t end up on the “surface” internet.
Accessing the Deep Web
There’s no single way to access the deep web. In order to access deep web pages, you must already have access, or be given access by someone else. Since you can’t search for information on the deep web, you have to already know the web page address in order to find it.
What this means, is that the vast majority of the web is inaccessible to everyone who uses it. Most people have access to a tiny part of the deep web, however: whether it’s an online database you use at work, an online forum or club that you belong to, or simply your personal Netflix queue or Amazon wish-list.
If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with ACUTEC today.