The Clearnet, the Deep Web and the Dark Web

Terms such as the Indexed Web or the Clearnet, the Deep Web and the Dark Web are circulated widely in media, but what do they mean?

In summary:

  • The Clearnet refers to information that can be found by a search engine.
  • The Deep Web refers to information that can be found via the Internet (i.e. accessed by navigating to a specific database by using a browser), but it is not indexed by a search engine.
  • The Dark Web or Dark Net refers to a portion of the Internet that is more private. It generally requires a specific browser to access it and it favours anonymity. Certainly there are criminal activities that happen on the Internet as a whole, and the Dark Net specifically, but it is more about privacy and anonymity, which is why it attracts some criminal activity.

No one truly knows what the ratio is of information between the Clearnet, Deep Web and the Dark Web, and the ratio changes often, but there have been illustrative info graphics produced which can give us a sense of the relationship. One is presented below:

Next we’ll talk about web browsers, the main tool used in intelligence gathering from online sources.