As it’s Halloween, we thought we’d look at a something a little scary in the IT world:  The Dark Web.

Lets begin by breaking down what is the dark web and the Internet which we all access everyday.   The Internet we all tend to access everyday through our favourite search engines is called the surface web, which lends nicely to imagining the Internet like an iceberg.  So everything above the water is the surface web.

Everything below the water of the iceberg is called the deep web and with some basic diving kit you could access some of the iceberg below the water’s surface. The deep web is unable to be searched using our favourite search engines.  Now, not everything within the deep web is malicious and much is legal and safe.  Within the deep web there are things such as databases which are publicly and privately accessible, but only within their database and intranets which you may have one within your organisations, but you can only access when logged into your company devices.  The deep web also includes any blog articles that have yet to be published, web pages that are in the process of redesign and even pages within your online banking account.  All these pages will have instructions written into them to tell search engines not to search them or they are hidden behind passwords and therefore not searchable.

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The dark web is specifically web pages and sites that are not indexed and you must have a specialised web browser to access.  It routes your path to these sites through multiple servers and uses encryption to make users as anonymous as possible.  It was originally created to allow US spies to communicate with the Department of Defence to protect their identities and their safety in the 90s.

The dark web is significantly smaller than the surface web, so could be considered the very bottom submerged tip of the iceberg in our analogy and would require specialist diving equipment and knowledge to reach, but would still be risky to do so even with the equipment and knowledge.  As such, the dark web is not something you can stumble upon in your day to day Internet usage.  So while it is something to be aware of and understand it exists, you would need to go out of your way to access it.  This is the part of the Internet where stolen user credentials, passwords and financial details are traded and sold.  It is an extremely dangerous area of the Internet to access and use.

As the dark web is not something we can stumble upon, what is more important is considering the dangers and safe usage of the deep web that is most appropriate for the majority of people.  The deep web can hold piracy sites and unsavoury content and as such this is possible to access and come across while using one of the common browsers and search engines.  Therefore, the best way to protect yourself in the deep web is to always be aware of the links you are clicking through to and what buttons or how you are interacting with a website.  Evaluate if you trust the website you are on and if the link or action you pursue on this website is safe and considered.  This will help to keep you safe on the Internet. If you have any further queries or need more advice on staying safe on the Internet, please just get in touch with the team here at MJD.