The Darknet

The darknet is name given to parts of the internet that are not accessible without special browsing software. If you have heard of “the darknet” you may have also heard of phrases like deepweb, surface web and TOR.

The Web (WWW, The World Wide Web – The Surface Web)

This is the part of the internet most commonly used by people. The websites you visit and search for each day, newspapers, sports pages, cooking recipes, fluffy cat videos and this wonderful website you are reading right now. This is sometimes called The Surface Web.

The Deep Web

This is a part of the internet that is not “indexed”.

When you want to find a site or some information on the internet you will most often use a search engine such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or the like. What those search engines do is to visit most pages on the internet, and categorise all the content and then build in an index so that when you search for “Winter Coats” in Google it will likely assess that you would like to buy one, and provide you with links to shops in the country you are in and also close to you. The deep web are areas that search engines do not and cannot search.

These are protected and encrypted:

  • Like your bank balance and purchase history inside your online banking,
  • your personal account and delivery addresses in Amazon,
  • airline passenger lists for the flight you are about to take,
  • the private messages you send and receive in Facebook, Twitter or Tinder
  • the personal photos and files in your dropbox account
  • All these things you would not like to accessible to anyone from a quick Google search.


So…The Darknet ?

Now as I explained at the top of this article, the darknet is only accessible using special software, this is called TOR (this stands for The Onion Router, more detailed information on that can be found on that here).

Once you are connected you can browse websites that have special and unusual names ending in .onion. Whilst the darknet is usually reported as a place riddled and filled with hackers, criminals and other bad characters, TOR is an essential tool for protecting anonymity – as such many journalists and civil rights campaigner have come to rely on it to protect themselves in the line of their daily work. It just so happens that many nefarious types want anonymity too.


If you want to know more – take a look in The Deep End – our more technical area.