deep web dark web

What you know to be the Internet is actually just 5% of what’s indexed by the search engines. In this deep web vs dark web article, we’ll take a look at the mammoth portion of the Internet that escapes the attention of typical users.

Rumours are, the deeper part of the Internet is filled with illegal contents that range from hitmen for hire to child pornography. Yet, there are suggestions that the deep web or dark web is a safe haven for journalists and reporters. 

Read on and learn the real truth about the hidden iceberg of the Internet. 

Deep Web vs Dark Web — The Difference

The deep web and dark web have often been used interchangeably by those who are confused about their existence. Technically, both terms refer to entities with different characteristics on the Internet. 

When searching for a term in Google and you click on a website, you’re accessing the surface web. The term deep web refers to web pages that do not show up on search engines. These websites are either password-protected or are designed to escape the crawlers of search engines. 

Think of the deep web like your financial records, academic journals, medical records, forums, or web pages that aren’t meant for the public eyes. Generally, the deep web is as harmless as the usual internet you’re accustomed to—unless you’re entering the dark web.

The dark web, or darknet, refers to a fraction of the deep web that is totally obscured from public access. Websites on the dark web are built on the Tor network. These websites’ URLs end with .onion, and you’ll need a Tor browser to access the dark web.

The dark web is known for keeping users identity hidden, as communication is encrypted within the Tor network. This naturally attracts illicit sites such as drugs and firearm marketplaces. However, the stealth offered by the dark web also attracts journalists or individuals who deal with sensitive information. 

Is the Darknet Safe?

While it’s true that some legit names like Facebook and ProtonMail are offering their services on the darknet, more than half of the sites in the hidden network are dealing with illegal activities. The darknet was once home to the infamous Silk Road marketplace for drugs.

The darknet is also home to child pornography sites, which are illegal in most countries. International law enforcement officers busted a dark web site based in Korea in 2019, and 338 individuals were arrested worldwide with related charges to child pornography. 

By now, you should have a general idea of how nasty the dark web can be. And that’s not including sites created by scammers that con you of your money or inject malware into your device. 

You should also never be lulled into thinking that the darknet is foolproof in terms of privacy. While the communication within the Tor network is encrypted, the endpoint isn’t. This means anyone operating a website on the Tor network can grab a hold of your information. 

Chances are you've heard of how individuals venturing into the darknet have been scammed. These horror stories are probably real as the darknet isn’t the cleanest neighbourhood on the Internet. 

How to Search the Dark Web Safely

Obviously, the best way to be safe on the dark web is to stay out of it. However, if you wish to take a sneak peek into the darker side of the Internet, here’s how you can access it safely. With that said, we’re not condoning any illegal activities that exist on the dark web.

1. Install the Tor Browser

As the dark web is inaccessible with regular browsers, you’ll need to download the Tor browser. It encrypts information that is relayed within the Tor network.

2. Use A VPN

The Tor Browser isn’t perfect and it helps to use a VPN for additional protection. Using a VPN prevents entry node attacks and your ISP monitoring the usage of the Tor browser.   

Top VPN for The Dark Web

When choosing a VPN for the dark web, you’ll want one that is absolutely secure and with fast connections. Here are the top choices. 

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is a recognizable name in the VPN industry, and it’s fitted with the relevant features to protect you on the dark web. For a start, NordVPN uses AES-256 encryption, which keeps hackers away from targeting your device. Besides that, NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN is a neat feature that allows you to access the Tor network with the VPN app. Of course, you’re able to use NordVPN alongside the Tor browser and enjoy the same security offered by the VPN. 

2. CyberGhost

CyberGhost offers impressive connection speed that is vital for accessing the often slow Tor network. It takes privacy seriously by operating the VPN network on its NoSpy server. CyberGhost’s no-log policy and its Romanian-based HQ ensures the utmost privacy for dark web users. 

While CyberGhost doesn’t have Tor-specific features, its solid track record of security makes it an ideal choice for the dark web. Read our CyberGhost Review.

3. SurfShark

SurfShark chalks up an impressive performance for speed, and its support for unlimited devices makes it an attractive VPN. As for keeping you safe on the dark web, you can count on SurfShark’s AES-256 encryption and its handy features. 

You’ll escape the eyes of the ISP with the Camouflage mode while the Multihop allows you to connect to multiple VPN servers before accessing the Tor network. 

4. ProtonVPN

Swiss-based ProtonVPN is the undisputed VPN where security is concerned. It is built by the developers who created ProtonMail, arguably the safest encrypted mail system in the world. ProtonVPN is a strong believer in privacy and is built-in with Tor support. 

ProtonVPN features Tor-friendly servers that allow you to connect to the Tor network with regular browsers. 


The deep web is generally a large part of the Internet that is not indexed by search engines. Most of the bad reps of the deep web are due to the tiny portion that sits at the rock bottom of the Internet—the dark web. 

There are true risks when accessing the dark web. You could be flouting international laws when visiting certain sites, and you may end up getting scammed. If you insist on visiting the mysterious dark web, you ought to stay protected with a VPN.

Sign up to a VPN before you start diving into the dark web. 

Mark Coulman
About Mark Coulman

Cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy. Mark has more than 14 years of experience in creating and managing various reliable WEB applications for IT companies in the EU and the US. Loves 3-4 letter words like PHP, XML, HTML, CSS, DB2, ASP, CRM, ERP, SAP, etc.