The Deep Web


The Internet is undoubtedly a giant space. Google lets us search for anything we have interest in throughout the entire archive of the Internet, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to get relative information frequently. Reddit provides us with a public forum to post opinions and interesting facts, and sites such as Netflix and YouTube provide endless hours of entertainment. But these services come bundled with the “protective” eye on the NSA, spying on computer searches, inputs, and histories to detect cyber criminals and put them in there place.

However, the Internet is much bigger than we think it is. The entire data storage that the Internet and its archives are stored in is almost 7,500 terabytes, enough data to fill a 16 gigabyte iPhone 468,750 times. The total amount of data from indexed sites such as Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, iMDB, Tumblr, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and other “surface” websites, however, is only 19 terabytes. The rest of the data is untraceable, un-indexed websites known commonly as the “Deep Web.” This is where the dark parts of the Internet hide, holding everything from drug dealers, assassins for hire, and professional hackers to online prostitution rings, pornography, and even a cyber Mafia.

How do these websites go undetected? The way the internet works is that a computer going on Facebook, for example, sends data to a node that can be seen and recorded, and that node sends back more data so the computer can access the website. This is similar to a telephone conversation between two people. Software that can explore the Deep Web, however, is more similar to a giant game of Telephone. A computer sends data to a node, which instead jumbles the data and sends it to all different computers on different nodes. The data is then sent back with such random data that it is virtually untraceable. Whistleblowers such as WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden used the Deep Web to record their secret information.

This ultimate power of anonymity comes with its share of people who use it for profit, known as bitcoin in the Deep Web. The largest website for distributing illegal drugs is called the Silk Road, which sells over 340 different varieties of drugs. The website, along with its sister arms-dealing website called the Armory, is worth an estimated $45 million dollars. Besides drugs and guns, hundreds of hitman websites promises a “clean, no-trace job” for the low price of $25,000. The most disturbing fact of the Deep Web and its browser, Tor, is that 80% of its funding comes from the United States government.

Besides the more obscure parts of the Deep Web, it can be a handy tool for anyone looking for anonymity online. So the next time you watch a video on YouTube, think about how you’re barely scratching the surface of the Internet.