Deep Web, Dark Web and Darknet: differences
The term Deep Web was coined by the specialist indexing company ‘Bright Planet’, and they used it to describe non-indexable content such as dynamic database requests, paywalls and other elements difficult to find using conventional search engines. But later came the Silk Road case, and the media started using that term to refer to other elements like the Dark Webs.
Bright Planet has defended on many occasions that the term Deep Web is inaccurate to refer to the Dark Webs and Darknets, but the damage had already been done, people had assimilated it and distinguishing these three nomenclatures has become hell. For this reason, today we are going to try to leave these three concepts to know what exactly the differences are and what we mean by them.
In general, to distinguish the concepts of Darknet, Deep Web and Surface Web or superficial web, the iceberg scheme is usually used. The tip, the little that stands out on the surface, is the web as you know it, the Surface Web. Everything underwater is the Deep Web, and the deepest part of it is the Darknets.
But this scheme is too simple, because the Deep Web is something more than what is not indexable in search engines, and next to the Darknet one would have to introduce another term such as the Dark Web that does not usually appear. Therefore, we are going to start by describing each of these four concepts one by one to know how to differentiate them.
Just as in general terms the Clearnet is that portion of the Internet that you can easily access with your browser, we could say that the Deep Web is just the opposite. Considering that ~90% of the content on the web is not accessible through standard search engines, we are talking about a lot of data.
Also known as Invisible Web (Invisible Web) or Hidden Web (Hidden Web), it encompasses all that information that is online, but which you cannot access publicly. On the one hand, these can be conventional pages that have been protected by a paywall, but also files stored in Dropbox or emails stored on the servers of our provider.
The Deep Web is also made up of sites with a “Disallow” in the robots.txt file or dynamic pages that are generated when consulting a database. For example, when you enter a travel portal and look for a hotel in a certain city for a specific day, the page that is created with the results is indexed in no search engine, it is temporary and is part of the Deep Web like bank inquiries and similar queries.
Often confused with the Deep Web, although it is part of it, the Dark Web is that fragment of the Internet that can only be accessed through specific applications. Just as the Deep Web accounts for around 90% of the content of the World Wide Web, the Dark Web would occupy only 0.1% of it.
Pages like Dictionary.com define it as “the portion of the Internet that is intentionally hidden from search engines, uses masked IP addresses, and is accessible only with a special web browser: part of the Deep Web.” Therefore, although both are hidden from conventional search engines, the Deep Web is a compilation of everything that is outside of them, including the Dark Web, which is part of it but is something different.
Mainly the Dark Web is usually made up of pages with very particular links through their own domains such as the .onion of TOR or the .i2p of the I2P eepsites, but which you cannot access unless you have the necessary software to navigate the Darknets in which they are hosted.
There is a belief that, since the Deep Web is usually in a certain way the part of the Internet not indexed by commercial search engines, the Dark Web cannot be indexed by any. But this is not entirely true. Ok, in Google you will not find access to it, but there are other specific search engines in which it can be done.
Some are accessible from the Clearnet, such as Onion City, capable of indexing thousands of .onion pages. There are other search engines within the Darknets themselves, such as not Evil, Torch or a version of DuckDuckGo, which also do the same. In addition, other tools such as Onion.to allow access to the TOR Dark Webs by simply adding the .to ending to the .onion domain, so that the web looks like yourpage.onion.to.
The term Darknet was coined in 2002 in the document “The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution” written by Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado and Bryan Willman, four Microsoft researchers. In it they refer to it as a collection of networks and technologies that could be a revolution when it comes to sharing digital content.
To explain this concept, we could say that while the Dark Web is all that deliberately hidden content that we find on the Internet, darknets are those specific networks such as TOR or I2P that host those pages. Come on, although there is only one Internet, the World Wide Web, there are different darknets in its depths hiding the content that makes up the Dark Web.
The best known are the friend-to-friend networks Freenet, I2P or Invisible Internet Project with their Eepsites with extension .i2p or ZeroNet. With its multiple services. But the most popular of all is TOR, an anonymization network that also has its own Darknet, and is basically what everyone usually refers to when talking about them.
Taking into account that there is no pre-established definition for Darknets, you have to keep in mind that although technically it is something different, on many occasions this same name is often used to refer to the Dark Web. In other words, don’t be scared if you see in the media that they refer to one as the other, the important thing is that you finally know how to differentiate it from the Deep Web.
Dark Web can be used to refer to two things. On the one hand, the term is used to refer to the content, to the dark webs, while on the other hand it is also used to talk about the culture that it implies, a somewhat ambiguous concept to refer to everything related, and that is so often confused with Deep Web.