Dark web. Deep web. Surface web. What are those, anyway?

You’ve probably heard of the dark web. It may conjure up images of nameless, faceless criminals engaged in any number of nefarious activities. That’s true.

But you may not know about the surface web or deep web. You use these two, so it’s good to know what they are.

Deep web.

This is where data breaches and targeted cyberattacks occur. You probably spend a good deal of time on the deep web without even knowing it.

These are websites that are password-protected or behind some other type of firewall.

Examples include:

  • Websites you access with your username and password, like your email, bank account, Netflix and your online shopping cart
  • Medical records and legal documents
  • Education and certain government sites
  • Company internal networks and databases

Surface web.

Search engines let you find just about anything. This part’s the surface web, the searchable part everyone can see. Worldwidewebsize.com places the current number of web pages at about 4.8 billion.

Experts vary about how much of the Internet this takes up. Some say 10 percent, some 16 percent.

Dark web.

The dark web is a layer of information and pages accessible only through special software. It’s earned its reputation as a safe haven for crime.

Experts estimate most of the dark web is comprised of black market trafficking, hackers selling your compromised personal and financial data and other dangerous, illegal activity.

Most of the pages are hosted anonymously – meaning you won’t see a name at the top, like your bank, email or online shopping site. Greater anonymity allows criminals to do their thing. This contributes to a rise in illegal activity.

But the dark web doesn’t cover anyone with complete anonymity. Law enforcement routinely shuts down and prosecutes sites and people committing criminal acts on the dark web.

Do these three things to keep us safe.

  • Use Houston Methodist email, because it has several layers of security.
  • Don’t open attachments from your Gmail, Yahoo mail or other non-Houston Methodist email when using your work computer.
  • Send suspicious email to SpamSpotting@HoustonMethodist.org.