Beyond Google: Understanding the Deep Web

For most computer-savvy people, the Deep Web is a place steeped in mystery and internet codes only the most sophisticated of hackers can crack. Tiversa has accumulated an expertise in the Deep Web over the past decade and, for our customers, we work to provide cyber threat intelligence, remediation and risk mitigation within this space.

According to a recent CNN report, university researchers say the most commonly used sites on the internet make up less than 1% of the World Wide Web. Sites like Wikipedia, Google, and Facebook and the sites easily accessible from them are just the surface of the water. The Deep Web is the vast ocean underneath.

Interest in the Deep Web has grown over the past few years, especially in light of the FBI investigation and subsequent shutdown of the online black market trade site Silk Road in 2013 and Silk Road 2 in 2014. Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was convicted on seven charges for money laundering, narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and conspiracy all relating to the site. However, the Deep Web is more than just Silk Road. Understanding how the Deep Web works can prevent users from delving too deep into it.

How it Works

The Deep Web is a collection of databases that cannot be indexed or identified by standard search engines like Google and Yahoo. Logging into the Deep Web requires specific software.

When using the Deep Web, users are not tracked by IP addresses, geocaching, and other means that people can be easily tracked down using the World Wide Web. Deep Web software is free and available from TOR, Freenet, or the Invisible Internet Project. Once the software’s in the user’s hands, accessing the Deep Web is easier than it looks and complete anonymity is guaranteed for better or worse.

The Deep Web shouldn’t be confused with the Dark Web, which is a subset of the Deep Web because it isn't indexed but often requires additional tools to access it like authentication or specific proxy software.

Bigger than Expected

According to a CNBC feature regarding Trend Micro’s report about the Deep Web, this predominantly untapped part of the World Wide Web is 400 times larger than the web most people use on a daily basis. Trend Micro’s uncovered 38 million pieces of content connected to 576,000 URLs. The report states that English-language sites make up more than 60% of the Deep Web. Russian sites come in second at 7%, followed by French sites at 5.5%.

Why Do People Gravitate to the Deep Web?

Obtaining passports is a popular reason users turn to the Deep Web, as well as buying black market goods and engaging in other illegal activities. Bitcoin is the most popular type of currency used for purchasing services and goods on the Deep Web.

However, the Trend Micro report also noted that the Deep Web can be an important tool for those needing to shield communication from government authorities and other parties. Whistle blowers, abuse victims, subjects of dictatorships, and others who would be put at risk if their communication was seen must turn to the Deep Web to ensure their anonymity and safety.

The Deep Web is also growing in popularity as a tool of economic and social importance. Search engines that can access the entire web can provide detailed information about finances, government records and climate change. This information, when used properly, could make the Deep Web a positive catalyst for change in the world rather than just a place for black market trading and illegal activities.

Founded in 2003, Tiversa's longstanding mission has been to collect information in areas of the Internet considered difficult to monitor and index. Tiversa has accumulated an expertise in the Deep Web over the past decade and, for our customers, we work to provide cyber threat intelligence, remediation and risk mitigation within this space.

Source: Tiversa