Have you ever been to the ocean? What was your experience like?
I used to be terrified of the open water. I was afraid of drowning, and encountering dangerous elements that could put my safety at risk. It was only until later on in my adult life that I learned that the ocean is vast and full of beautiful things to enjoy! I love scuba diving, swimming, and exploring the gorgeous sea life.
Oceanographers have divided the ocean into three layers, categorized by density, temperature, and the amount of light in each one. Here are the three layers of the ocean:
- The surface ocean or epipelagic zone: This layer is warmer and refers to the top 660 feet of the ocean where light penetrates. The transition into the deep ocean happens when the water temperature drops and the density increases. This is called thermocline.
- The deep ocean or mesopelagic and bathypelagic zone: This layer is colder and denser than the surface, the distance extends up to 13,000 feet. The temperature is generally between 32-37.4 F°.
- The very deep or abyssopelagic and hadalpelagic zone: This layer extends from 13,000 feet below the surface to the sea floor.
The depth of the ocean with all of its nuances compares to the Internet today. We can find amazing things online that make our lives so much easier. We communicate with each other. We navigate, conduct business, and pursue our education. We can find and resolve health matters, explore infinite adventures and possibilities, and so much more. However, if we don’t understand the basics, the Why, What, and How of the things that happen on the Internet, we could put ourselves and others in danger online.
There are many dangers that we need to be aware of in the Internet ocean, and we need to know how to minimize the damage if we fall into a trap and our cyber world is compromised. The Internet ocean is also as deep as the real ocean, and it is also divided into three layers:
- The surface web: Refers to the Internet we all know and navigate to connect with family, friends, and businesses, where people read information in websites, watch videos, do their banking, use social media, play games, do shopping, and may pursue many more online interests. It is estimated that the indexed web contains at least 5.62 billion pages (8). Indexing refers to the various processes of adding web page content into a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing to find the information we are looking for on the Internet. For example, “where to buy a volleyball” or “the best scuba diving destinations.”
- The deep web: Refers to the Internet that is not indexed. In order to access these pages, you need to know the exact link or details to get to the website. To use the deep web, you need a special browser, such as TOR (The Onion Router) which is the most popular portal. Using the TOR browser could raise suspicion as your Internet provider can’t see what you are doing, and is not a browser for regular Internet use, consider this for informational purposes only. TOR was developed in the mid-1990s by the United States Navy. The deep web includes legitimate content that is hidden from search engines because the information is not intended for public consumption and you can access this content using a specific username and password.
For example, law enforcement communications, academic information, banking portals, scientific reports and Internet sites or databases of major companies. The deep web can be used as a communication resource and sharing of information for good or bad intentions. Because of its anonymity factor, communications to avoid surveillance or the tracking of Internet habits and whistleblowing situations are also common.
The deep web may be 500 times larger than the surface web, according to estimates in the cybersecurity industry. The depth of the deep web is more than we can ever imagine, and it gets more dangerous the deeper you get.
- The dark web: Technically, the dark web is also part of the deep web, but much deeper, and unless you know exactly where to go you can’t get there. There may still be legitimate content that occurs in the dark web to circumvent surveillance measures. Cybercrime and many illicit activities also happen in this layer of the Internet ocean.
In the dark web, there is an entire e-commerce system developed to sell drugs, guns, counterfeit money, and documents. Other practices include, human trafficking, fake college degrees, fake coupons, child abuse, hacking forums, and most of the stolen records in data breaches.
There is a price tag for your credit and debit card numbers, for your social security number, your social media user and password accounts, your subscription services credentials for example in Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, and many other, to your reward programs for airlines and hotels, to your email address and password, your banking account data, your healthcare information including your medical records and insurance information, and other sensitive information that has value when someone tries to impersonate you with the purpose to steal your money.
The dark web is estimated to be a tiny fraction of the deep web. It is also unreliable and plagued with fake domains. Many scams occur there as curious people try to venture there and navigate these dangerous waters.
Similar to the ocean layers, there are not marked lines to each of these web layers. We might not see the consequences right away, but our information may have just gotten into the wrong hands and we do not even realize it yet.
We might not think about cybersecurity when we are in a public place and we cannot wait to use the free Wi-Fi or download something free. Our information, data, or identity could be stolen. We may not think about cybersecurity, identity theft or cybercrime because in our minds it cannot happen to us, or it seems too hard or too technical. But, it is better to take immediate action NOW to protect ourselves, before it is too late, and we have to start the painful recovery process.
As the dive into the Internet ocean continues, there’s no need to worry. I’ve got your hand. We are on this journey together, and we can learn how to best protect our families, businesses, and data from hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters.