Hello, and welcome to the first installment of “Total Bullcrap.” This series will address the many wallet-draining claims made by individuals and businesses that aren’t merely unfounded: they are total bullcrap. The first steaming pile of manure I want to flush into a sewer is the “deep web scan” feature that certain companies offer as an incentive to buy their services or as the service itself. Such scans purportedly offer reliable protection against identity theft, but in truth, they are mostly the fiction of clever marketers.
Yes, it’s all total bullcrap.
Why? To answer that, let’s first consider how searches are done. When using a search engine such as Google Search or any other kind, the entire internet is not searched when a person clicks “SEARCH.” Instead, indexed data is reviewed (“searched”) just as a person would look at the index of a textbook in order to find the location of a certain term. The online search indexes are constantly being updated by search providers as their automatic processes read through the billions of publicly accessible and indexed websites, webpages, and Web-accessible data that exist, then adding, changing, and deleting index entries as necessary in a process that repeats over time. Fast and accurate online searches are the direct results of constant and efficient indexing.
For the sake of brevity, let’s say that Web content that is not accessible by the public or known to search engines forms the hidden or “deep web” and does not appear in searches. Some parts of the deep web can be reached via a URL while others require a numeric identifier called an “IP address” to access them. In all cases, a prior knowledge of the site’s identifier (URL or IP address) is required since they are unknown to search engines. A “deep web scan” process could know the URLs and IP addresses of thousands of deep web sites, but the deep web is just that: deep. Surfing the internet is like being in a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Its surface is vast and inviting, yet beneath the boat is a dark, cold chasm that extends downward for miles. That chasm is the deep web, and it’s what slick marketers are using to hide the bullcrap.
Unless a “deep web scan” knows every hidden identifier and has the time and the authority to access to all the contents therein, the “protection” being paid for would be absolutely insufficient. Thanks to the enormous size of the deep web, the time it would take to thoroughly index all of it would be measured in several decades. As investigative reporter and technical writer Eric Pudalov notes, “…there are roughly 1.2 septillion onion sites (Tor hidden services, that is), I doubt it would be possible in a single lifetime.”(1)
A lifetime is typically north of 70 years within developed countries according to the statistics maintained by Disabled World, an independent health news organization.(2) Conversely, the internet has existed for less than 30 as of this writing. Simple, anti-bullcrap math shows that 40 more years of indexing would be required just to capture the contents of the dark web as they are at the moment of this writing. Therefore, unless “deep web scan” providers have time machines that allow them to send search indexes back to us from 40 years in the future, then the impossibility of fully protective “deep web scans” is proven.
All the best,
- Pudalov, Eric. “How Long Would It Take You to Get Every Website on the Deep Web or on the Dark Web?” Quora, Quora, 6 Aug. 2017, http://www.quora.com/How-long-would-it-take-you-to-get-every-website-on-the-deep-web-or-on-the-dark-web.
Disabled World. “Average Human Life Span Expectancy by Country.” Disabled World, Disabled World, 15 Dec. 2017, http://www.disabled-world.com/calculators-charts/life-expectancy-statistics.php.