6 Common Dark Web Myths Debunked

Submitted by Erica Kastner on Thu, 10/ 17/ 19 - 10: 06 AM


Dark Web Myths Debunked

Due to the secretive nature of the dark web, it's natural that myths were created to describe it. In this article, we'll debunk some common myths about the dark web as well as shed some light on the real risks that exist.

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Myth #1: The Dark Web and the Deep Web are the Same Thing

Myth #2: The Dark Web Makes Up 96% of the Internet

Myth #3: The Dark Web's Main Purpose Is to Help Criminals Conduct Illegal Business

Myth #4: Once You're On the Dark Web, All of the Illegal Content Is Easily Accessible

Myth #5: It's Illegal to Access the Dark Web

Myth #6: You Have to Go to the Dark Web to Find Illegal Activity

Dark Web Threats to Your Business

Myth #1: The dark web and the deep web are the same thing

If you read news articles about the dark web, you might see outlets use the terms deep web and dark web interchangeably. In reality, this inaccurate reporting only leads to scaremongering. 

The deep web is the part of the Internet that's not indexed by search engines. For instance, password-protected parts of websites such as your email need to be hidden so that nobody can Google your email and have your inbox pop up. 

Therefore, certain pages need to be restricted from public access. The dark web is simply a tiny percentage of the deep web with more security layers in place. 

Myth #2: The dark web makes up 96% of the Internet

Does the Dark Web Make Up 96% of the Internet?

Though the publicly accessible Internet is quite large - over 1.7 billion websites as of the posting of this article - the deep web is even larger. Some estimates say that the deep web is 400-550 times bigger than the surface web that we all use. 

What many people - especially the media - confuse, is the size of the deep web with the size of the dark web. Since a common misconception that the deep and dark web are interchangeable terms persists, this means that many people think that the commonly touted statistic: "the dark web makes up 96% of the Internet," is true.

In actuality, this statistic refers to the size of the deep web. The dark web is a tiny subsection of the deep web - less than one percent.

Myth #3: The dark web's main purpose is to help criminals conduct illegal business

Due to the conversation surrounding the dark web, it is commonly characterized as the "underbelly of the Internet", a Wild West-esque landscape crawling with criminals who conduct illegal business un-checked.

However, many people would be surprised to learn that the dark web has a larger and more benevolent purpose.

For those living under oppressive regimes with restricted or scrutinized Internet access, or for those who seek to be government whistleblowers, the dark web allows them to publish their thoughts and surf the Internet freely.

Since special browsers used to access the dark web, such as Tor, hide the IP addresses of their users, journalists, whistleblowers, and the everyday person simply wanting to visit sites that their country may be blocking can do so without fear of retribution.

Myth #4: Once you're on the dark web, all of the illegal content is easily accessible

Although the dark web is known for harboring illegal activity, just because you can access the dark web doesn't necessarily mean you can access all of its sites. 

For dark website creators who really want to restrict site access, they might password-protect their site or only allow those from a list of certain IP addresses to have access.

Myth #5: It's illegal to access the dark web

Is It Illegal to Access the Dark Web?

If you're already on an FBI watch list, then maybe you shouldn't go on the dark web, but for everyone else, it isn't inherently illegal to go on the dark web if you keep in mind a few points.

As previously stated, people use the dark web to view and publish content not permissible by their government. A US journalist may not be able to publish content through normal means, if staying in a foreign country on assignment. Publishing said content isn't illegal in the US, but it is in that country. The dark web would be very helpful here.

However, even if you simply view some illegal content on the dark web, keep in mind that you never know which websites the FBI is tracking. So, although you might be okay if you visit some of the darker content, you also might be exposing yourself to an undercover FBI sting

Myth #6: You have to go to the dark web to find illegal activity

The dark web is frequently characterized as a hotbed for illegal activity. While it does attract criminals who sell drugs or are human traffickers, online illegal activity isn't restricted to just the dark web.

There have been many publicly accessible websites that have been shut down for producing/distributing illegal content. For instance, a 2014 Internet Watch Foundation report showcased how law enforcement found 31,266 URLs that contained images of child porn. Of those URLs, only 51 of them, the equivalent of 0.2 percent, were hosted on the dark web.

However, while illegal activity takes place on both the surface web and dark web, the dark web's ability to conceal the IP addresses of its users makes concealing and carrying out illegal activity easier. 

Dark Web Threats to Your Business

Dark Web Threats to Your Business

Even though the dark web does contain innocent material, some of it contains harmful and illegal content. If you're a business owner, the content you really don't want to find on the dark web is your business' private information, such as employee account logins and social security numbers (and you might be surprised how often that kind of information ends up there).

If your company gets hacked, this information could end up for sale on the dark web. From a financial standpoint, the cost of a data breach can easily add up due to factors like downtime. If your customer's data is leaked due to a data breach, your company could potentially be sued for damages too.

Don't risk your company's reputation and financial health on sub-par cyber security. Consider hiring managed IT services as a way of thoroughly protecting your company's network security, or at the very least, inquire about a dark web scan.

It's not a matter of if your company gets hacked - it's a matter of when. Use this article to better understand the dark web so you can secure your data. 

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Posted by Erica Kastner


cybersecurity, dark web