In 1989, English computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. The former Oxford — and later MIT — the professor was attempting to find a new way for scientists to share data when he made this ground-breaking innovation. The World Wide Web is a collection of web pages found on the internet. It facilitates the retrieval and display of text pages, digital images, videos, and other media to your device.

But when it comes to what’s online, the world wide web as we know it is just the tip of the iceberg. Websites such as Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, and any other site that appears on your search engine’s result page (SERP) are part of what is known as the surface web or the clear net. Beneath the surface internet is the deep web and buried within the deep web is the dark web.

What Is The Dark Web? 

The deep web refers to sections of the internet that traditional search engines cannot index for any reason. A fragment of the deep web, the darknet refers to a hidden collection of sites not found by standard search engines such as Google, Yahoo! Search, or Microsoft’s Bing. Websites on the dark web are hidden on purpose and are only accessible via an encrypted browser such as Tor (The Onion Router).

There’s been a growing interest in the deep web and the dark web in recent years. However, the dark side of the internet remains a mystery to many internet users. Below, we shed some light on the dark web with some interesting facts about this part of the World Wide Web. Read on.

1. The Dark Web Makes Up Only Small Portion of the Internet

Given how much you may have heard about the dark web over the years, you might think that it’s a vast portion of the web. That’s true about the deep web, but not the dark web. The deep web is vast; no one can see it in its entirety.

On the other hand, the darknet is just a tiny portion of the deep web. No one knows the dark web’s actual size, but it’s estimated to constitute around 5% of the world wide web.

2. It’s A Haven For Criminal Activity

The clandestine nature of the dark web makes it ideal for criminal activity. From sex offenders and child pornographers to drug dealers and illegal firearms dealers, the dark web is truly a cesspool of crime. The impersonal and anonymous aspects make it easier for people to purchase illegal services on the dark web.

It’s relatively easy to commit any imaginable crime on the darknet, including fraud, murder, etc. You name it, and you can probably purchase it on the darknet.

3. The Dark Web Isn’t Just For Criminals

There’s plenty of shady business going on on the dark web, but there are many good people using the darknet. The same privacy and anonymity that deliver protection for criminals on the dark web can also be a force for good.

For instance, the dark web can provide protection from government surveillance for people living under authoritarian regimes.

The dark web can facilitate access to information and protect political activists from prosecution.

4. The Darknet Has the Backing of the US Government

It would not be possible to browse the dark web if it were not for the US government. That’s true; the US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is one of the sponsors of The Onion Router, the most popular darknet network.

The idea of developing an anonymized and encrypted network was first conceived within the US Department of Defense. The dark web wouldn’t exist without the US government.

5. Most People Looking For Drugs on the Dark Web Just Want Marijuana

Any purchases that you make on the darknet cannot be traced back to you. If you are looking for something illegal like, say, drugs, the dark web is a good place to start. Although harder narcotics are generally available on the dark web, data from the top marketplaces on the dark side of the internet showed that lighter drugs such as marijuana are the most sought after. Also high on the list of items purchased on the dark web are stolen user accounts and video games.

6. Malware and Cyber Attacks Are Common on the Dark Web

Since it’s unregulated, the darknet provides little to no protection to users. For instance, it’s easy to get your computer infected with malware when surfing the dark web. The hidden nature of dark web services means that hackers can easily host malware-controlling servers on this portion of the internet.

Malware attacks will mostly occur when downloading information or clicking links. There’s also a high risk of hacking and identity theft on the dark web.

7. You Can Browse the Dark Web Safely With the Right Security Tools

It’s possible to protect yourself from all the illegal activity, malware, cyberattacks, and any other funny business taking place on the dark web. Just make sure that you have the necessary security tools to protect yourself and your data from these threats.

The Tor network comes with several layers of encryption, but that’s not enough on the dark web, use additional security tools such as malware and VPN to ensure protection. When it comes to the dark web, using VPNs for privacy and anonymity is essential.

8. Bitcoin Is the Only Currency Accepted On the Dark Web 

Due to the high anonymity and privacy levels on the dark web, card payments are not accepted. Purchases have to be made with cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies are the preferred method of payment because they are virtually untraceable.

The use of crypto is part of what makes the dark web so anonymous. The Silk Road, one of the biggest marketplaces on the dark web, was one of the first marketplaces to use Bitcoin exclusively.

The dark web is a complex world. Its clandestine nature facilitates an underground marketplace that criminals can use for illegal gains. However, the dark web also provides journalists, whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden, and people evading government censorship a platform to share information anonymously.