Did you know that the portion of the internet we can easily see and access is only the tip of the iceberg?
In fact, it’s substantially less than the tip of the iceberg – it’s more like the thin layer of snow lying on top of the tip of the iceberg.
When the internet first booted up in 1969 it was made up of a grand total of four computers.
Today it’s estimated that the internet consists of around five million terabytes of data. That’s more than five trillion megabytes of data stored on countless servers, computers and drives. Of this five million terabytes only about 200 terabytes can be indexed by web search.
This 0.004% of the internet is accessible to the public in the form of over 4.5 billion indexed websites. Which means that 99.996% of the internet is inaccessible without permissions and passwords and is not indexed by standard search engines.
This 99.996% of data is called the deep web.
So what is this content and data we can’t see? Mostly pretty innocuous stuff, actually. Contrary to popular belief, the deep web mostly consists of simple things like your emails, social media profiles, subscription sites saved data (like your viewing history on Netflix) and other privately owned data (the cloud, your Google docs, etc.).
Unless you’re the owner of the content, the deep web can only be accessed by specialized software like TOR. TOR is a complicated, multi-level VPN and virtual tunneling system which was originally commissioned by the US government.
The deep web should not be confused with the Dark Web. The Dark Web is also technically “Deep web” because it is hidden, but is generally associated with illegal activity. It can only be accessed with the likes of TOR which makes all conduct and interactions untraceable and anonymous – and therefore a haven for unsavory stuff.
The Dark web is only a tiny portion of the deep web and consists mostly of heavily encrypted sites. Accessing these sites is a lot harder than simply typing in a URL, and the chances that you or your children may accidentally stumble over them (or even find them if you’re looking) are pretty much zero.
It should be noted that TOR and its contemporaries are NOT intrinsically bad. They also offer a level of protection to whistle blowers and political dissidents who would otherwise be putting themselves at risk when trying to act for the good of humanity. In fact it was originally created to protect sensitive information as well as the privacy, freedom, and safety of the people using it.
So, we don’t actually have access to very much of the internet, but the part you can see is so huge that you’re probably not going to get through it all in one lifetime. There are still over 1.5 billion indexed websites which you CAN easily access. The parts of the Deep web which are not readily available to you are mostly just privately owned data. The Dark Web, though a scary place, is not as easy to get into as your granny may tell you.