Dark Web Definition

Howard Poston
Jul 27, 2023
Dark Web Definition

What is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web is a portion of the Internet that is not accessible via traditional search engines and web browsers. Instead, the Dark Web is only accessible using a Tor-enabled browser.

The Dark Web is used for various purposes, and many of these purposes are illegal. For example, Dark Web markets are commonly used to sell malware, breached passwords, and other illegal goods and services. Additionally, the Dark Web has forums and other websites used by cybercriminals and other criminals to discuss their attacks.

The Different Layers of the Internet

The Internet is broken up into a few different zones. The area that people are most familiar with is the Surface Web. This is the portion of the Internet that is indexed by Google and other search engines and is publicly accessible. Many commonly-used websites, such as Wikipedia and companies’ webpages are located in the Surface Web.

The Deep Web is the portion of the Internet that is not publicly accessible or indexed by search engines. This includes protected pages such as private social media pages, bank account pages, and anything else that is accessible via a normal browser but has restricted access. The Deep Web is much larger than the Surface Web or the Dark Web.

The Dark Web is the part of the Internet that is not accessible via normal web browsers. Instead, Dark Web users access its sites using browsers that are equipped with TOR, a protocol that is designed to provide anonymity by making it more difficult to learn both the source and destination of a web request.

Navigating the Dark Web is more difficult than the Surface Web. While search engines exist, they are less effective than Google, Bing, etc. Instead, many Dark Web sites are accessible only if you already know their URL.

Uses for the Dark Web

The Dark Web has a reputation for being used only for criminal activity. However, while criminal activities are common on the Dark Web, there are also legitimate uses for it. In fact, TOR — one of the fundamental technologies for the Dark Web — was originally developed by the US government.

Some of the common use cases of the Dark Web include:

  • Cybercrime Markets: Cybercriminals have their own economy, buying, selling, and trading stolen data, malware, etc. Dark Web markets connect buyers and sellers in an anonymous space.
  • Information Exchange: Cybercriminals use Dark Web forums to exchange or post information. For example, a cybercriminal may brag about a recent breach or provide information on how to carry out a certain attack.
  • Anonymous Communications: One of the big selling points of the Dark Web is that the use of Tor makes it largely anonymous. In addition to criminals, this makes the Dark Web a useful tool for journalists, activists, and other people whose safety could be at risk if their identities became public.

At the end of the day, the Dark Web is used for many of the same purposes as the Surface Web. The main difference is that the Dark Web provides a level of anonymity and privacy that makes it more attractive to certain groups.


The Dark Web is a portion of the Internet that can’t be reached using traditional search engines or web browsers. The anonymity and privacy that it provides make it a common location for criminal activity; however, it also has its legitimate uses.

Howard Poston

Howard Poston is a copywriter, author, and course developer with experience in cybersecurity and blockchain security, cryptography, and malware analysis. He has an MS in Cyber Operations, a decade of experience in cybersecurity, and over five years of experience as a freelance consultant.

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