Deep Web vs. Dark Web: What's the Difference?

The deep web and dark web are often used synonymously, but they have several different characteristics. While both represent layers of the Internet that are not easily accessible through traditional search engines, each serves a unique purpose and function.
The deep web includes the areas of the Internet that are not indexed by search engines, making them invisible on search engine results pages. It encompasses a range of sensitive data that individuals and organizations intend to keep private. Unlike the surface web, where information is accessible to anyone, the deep web provides an additional layer of privacy to keep data concealed from public view.
The dark web is a hidden layer within the deep web that is also non-indexed and provides an even stronger level of privacy. Its enhanced obscurity attracts diverse users, from those seeking anonymous browsing to threat actors engaging in illicit activities. Dark websites are inaccessible from conventional search engines and require a specialized browser.

Purposes of the Deep Web vs. Dark Web

Deep Web Uses

The deep web primarily consists of legitimate, unindexed content that is not intended for public visibility, such as:

  • Private databases
  • Academic resources and journals
  • Corporate data
  • Paywalled sites
  • Personal user accounts
  • Medical records

Dark Web Uses

Certain users favor the dark web due to its level of anonymity, and it is often used for the following purposes:

  • Anonymous browsing
  • Free speech 
  • Hosting illegal marketplaces
  • Hiring criminal services
  • Whistleblowing or hiding sources
  • Purchasing or selling stolen data

Differences Between the Deep Web and Dark Web

Although both the deep web and dark web consist of unindexed sites, their similarities end there.


The deep web is regularly accessed by Internet users in their daily online activities, like logging into company databases or personal email accounts. In contrast, the dark web is less commonly or casually used and requires a specialized browser like TOR to access its contents. Dark web browsing requires extra precautions, such as using a VPN to safeguard personal data and user identity. Users must also know the specific URLs of the websites they wish to visit because dark web search engines don’t index pages. 


The deep web constitutes most of the Internet, encompassing an extensive range of content. It’s estimated that the deep web comprises around 90-95 percent of all web content. On the other hand, the dark web represents only a small fraction of the deep web and accounts for a considerably smaller portion of the Internet.


While the deep web provides a certain level of privacy due to its unindexed nature, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) still track and store online activity and browsing histories. The dark web allows for a higher level of anonymity, as browsers like TOR conceal user identity and location. Deploying a VPN with TOR also hides search activity from ISPs and other entities, which is why users seeking privacy choose to access the dark web.


The deep web primarily serves as an additional layer of security to conceal sensitive data that unauthorized users should not access; it seldom involves illicit operations. The dark web, however, is notorious for illegal and underground activities, as it is an ideal platform for threat actors to engage privately. While the dark web is sometimes accessed by users for anonymity, it is also exploited by individuals and groups for various cybercrimes.


Security measures are implemented within the deep web, as its purpose is to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access to private networks. Security on the deep web involves firewalls, encryption, and various authentication methods. As the dark web is unregulated, security measures are much more challenging to implement. Its illicit nature requires users to take additional precautions, such as using VPNs, concealing their identities and all personal information, and using encrypted messaging services. Even with these precautions, the dark web remains a risky environment for users and a hub for threat actors. 

The Deep Web, Dark Web, and Cybersecurity

Understanding the differences between the deep web and the dark web helps organizations approach these areas of the Internet with caution, safeguarding company data from cyber threats. While the deep web and dark web are not always dangerous, they raise significant cybersecurity concerns when threat actors attempt to breach private information and launch malicious attacks.

Cybersecurity practices are vital in ensuring the protection of an organization’s networks. Proper security practices, including Endpoint Security, employee safety and awareness training,  Zero Trust Security, and incident response plans, are crucial in mitigating malicious attacks. By using security services to anticipate and detect cybersecurity threats, companies can proactively defend themselves from the deep web and dark web threats.

BlackBerry® Cybersecurity is comprehensive Endpoint Security that effectively prevents breaches and safeguards against sophisticated threats with advanced Cylance® AI. Our solutions natively integrate with BlackBerry® UEM and can also work seamlessly with any UEM solution.