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Surface Web vs Deep Web vs Dark Web – IntroductionToday, data extraction is one of the most powerful tools enabling you to stay up-to-date with market developments, gain market intelligence, and become competitive in your industry. But extracting data only from surface web pages is usually not enough. There is a deeper extraction process that allows access to high-quality content that’s mostly hidden. Sound dark? To better understand how deep the web can go and what levels of data extraction are available, let’s take a closer look. As a starting point, we’ll differentiate three layers of the net – surface web vs deep web vs dark web.
What is Surface Web?Everything you see on the surface of the internet when going online forms part of the surface web, which comprises just 4% of the entire net. The data available on the surface is purposely indexed by search engines, and this is the reason you can access it easily compared to information on other web layers. Therefore, the surface net is the part of the internet that is always available to the public and accessible via search engines like Google or Bing. You may wonder how search engines work and what “indexed” content means. Let’s get into it.
Indexing web contentDid you know that when you type something into a search bar and press “Search,” the search engine combs through its own database and not across the net? After that, it gets back to you with content that is already indexed and stored in its database—a giant index database where the information is organized in the most accurate way for easy retrieval. To create such a database, search engines use spiders to travel across the net and collect new data to be indexed and stored. So, when you submit a search, the search engine is looking for your query and responds with results from the search index database. This option works only for the content which is on the surface and can be indexed. But what about the pages that are not open for crawling? Here, we discuss the next layer of the net.
What is Deep Web?Deep web forms 95% of the net and includes data not indexed by search engines. This means that you will not access this data with a simple search. So, the surface web can be tracked by search engines, while the deep net includes everything that search engines cannot identify, because they are protected with a password or stored behind internet services. This is why spiders are invisible. Actually, you spend a lot of time on deep pages, but you don’t even know it.
Here are some examples of deep sites:
- Websites that can be accessed with a username and password (email, cloud services, online banking, or paid subscription-based online media sites);
- Video-on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO;
- Companies’ internal platforms;
- Educational or library websites;
- Government-related pages or legal documents;
- Medical records.
Differences in extracting data from surface and deep webWhen it comes to data extraction, most organizations scrape data from various sites, focusing on easily accessible content. Here, surface data extraction mainly covers the same domain as search engines, but requires a more powerful tool to target and monitor the information properly. If collecting information from the deep net is required, manual extraction is the main way to do so, as it is not the most reliable method. For deep data extraction, we recommend using automated web scraping.
What is Dark Web?The dark web (or so-called dark net) includes sites designed to be hidden which mostly have TOR (The Onion Router) URLs that are impossible to remember, guess or understand. TOR websites aren’t popular, and they are not accessible without using specific software programs, as a great deal of data is encrypted and hosted mostly anonymously. On the dark net, there are sites related to black markets and illegal activities like:
- Marketplace for drugs and unregistered weapons;
- Software for deeper browsing (like Onion Browser);
- A scanned version of unique books and publications;
- Wikileaks documents;
- Racist-related information and human trafficking;
- Content depicting abuse towards war prisoners, children, etc.