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The Three Layers of the Web

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Surely by now you’ve heard of the Dark Web, where all the seamy stuff happens. What you might not know is that the internet actually has three layers, not two. Understanding each layer and how it’s used is an important part of any approach to cybersecurity. Let’s take a look:

Surface Web: This is the internet we’re all familiar with. Anytime you use Google or Bing search, or look something up on Wikipedia, you’re on the surface web. Also found here are pretty much every business and commercial website. The surface web is continuously crawled and indexed by robots from Google and other search providers so that when you type in “pizza near me” you get current and accurate results (usually).

Deep Web: If you think the content on the surface web is vast and nearly infinite, you’re right – but it’s a small fraction of what’s on the deep web. 90% of the information on the internet lives on the deep web, but doesn’t show up in results generated by those web crawlers. As the graphic shows, in comparison to the deep web the surface web really does represent only the tip of the iceberg.

The deep web tends to be more data-oriented: medical records, academic information, legal documents, scientific reports, financial records, government resources … the list goes on, and even includes some social media content.

Dark Web: The dark web is where the really private stuff happens, and most of it isn’t good. Accessible only via specialized browsers (Tor being the most popular), the dark web is all about anonymity. While there are some arguably legitimate uses for the dark web, such as political activities happening out of the reach of authoritarian governments, the dark web is also a hotbed of crime.

From illicit drugs to child pornography to instructions on how to hack businesses, you’ll find it on the dark web. And if you’re a victim of extortionware, as described in this recent post, you might find your own company’s proprietary information there as well.

There’s some understandable confusion between the deep web and the dark web, and the lines are sometimes blurry. A simple explanation: dark web info is part of the deep web, but not necessarily vice versa.

In case you had thoughts of accessing the dark web just to see what happens there, it’s not illegal to do so, but it does carry a different set of risks, including plenty of malware. We would urge you to tame your curiosity and stay safe. It does make sense to have a qualified professional run a dark web scan, though, to make sure none of your information is already up for sale.

Need to talk about protecting your business from cyber threats, or interested in a free dark web scan? Contact Hill Tech Solutions.

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