Definition: The Deep Web - also known as the deep net - is a collective term for non-indexed websites that are not visible to standard search engines, including pages behind paywalls, password-protected information, or closed intranets.
Deep web explained
The deep web and dark web are often confused terms. Despite their names, which depict illicit or shady dealings, this is not necessarily the case - there is nothing inherently illegal or unsafe about accessing the deep web, in fact, they are used by individuals on a daily basis. Deep web sites may be protected by passwords or other security barriers, while others simply instruct search engines not to "crawl" them. Without visible links, these pages are far more hidden for a number of reasons.
Examples of a deep web are:
- Databases - Both public and privately protected file collections that are not linked to other areas of the web and can only be searched within the database.
- Intranets - Internal networks are used by businesses, governments, and educational institutions to privately communicate and control aspects within their organizations.
Certain content on the larger deep web is kept hidden from the open web to protect the user’s privacy. This could be:
- Private enterprise databases
- Financial accounts such as bank statements
- Emails and social messaging accounts
- Medical documentation and reports
- Legal files
The terms "deep web" and "dark web" are frequently interchanged. Although this is correct in terms of the underlying technology, there is a minor distinction. The deep web refers to all non-indexed webpages, whereas the dark web refers to the parts of the deep web where criminals engage in illicit activities.