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21 Dark Web Statistics to Demystify This Layer of the Web

Last updated 26th Sep 2022
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Underneath the Surface Web lies the Deep Web, with all the data that cannot be found by a regular search engine. Then, in the deepest, most remote layer of the Deep Web, on a web of onion routing, lies the notorious Dark Web, hidden in layers of encryption. But what can you find on the Dark Web, and is it all so bad? Read our Dark Web statistics and demystify this irreplaceable part of the free internet.

Top 10 Dark Web Statistics and Facts for 2022

  • The hidden, or Deep Web’s, size is 500 times larger than the Surface Web.

  • The Dark Web is only a small subsection of the Deep Web.

  • In 2022, there have been over 2 million daily Dark Web visitors.

  • India, at 26%, has the highest percentage of people who have used technologies for accessing the Dark Web.

  • The number of Russians who use Tor and need additional support to avoid censorship has grown in 2022.

  • In 2021, the global Dark Web intelligence market stood at $341.7 million.

  • Hacked crypto accounts are getting more affordable on the Dark Web.

  • The exact size of the Dark Web is difficult to pinpoint, but estimates place it at around 5% of the internet.

  • 4.5 million credit card details ended up on the Dark Web in December 2021.

  • In 2022, what used to be the largest active darknet marketplace, Hydra, fell in a US government crackdown.

Basic Dark Web Facts

What we know as the Web is only its surface level, known as the Surface Web.

The Surface Web is what we know as the World Wide Web, or everything that can be found by a regular search engine like Google. The Deep Web is the hidden web that makes the Surface Web possible—it includes all the data hidden behind paywalls, passwords, and databases, away from search engine crawlers.

The Dark Web is the deepest layer of the Deep Web that works on encrypted connections and allows users to bypass censorship and remain anonymous.

(Norton)

The size of the hidden web, known as the Deep Web, is around 500 times larger than the Surface Web.

For comparison, the Surface Web contains 19 terabytes of information, while the Deep Web stands at around 7,500 terabytes. In percentages, the Deep Web makes up around 95% of the entire Web. This makes it a great place for researchers, scientists, and journalists who need unrestricted and safe access to information.

(ResearchGate)

The Dark Web is only a small section of the Deep Web.

Although its exact size is unknown, the Dark Web is much smaller than the Deep Web. The fact that it’s hidden behind encryption makes it a haven for people from countries with limited internet access as well as whistleblowers and journalists. So even though the Dark Web is comparatively small, it’s a vital piece of the free internet.

(Norton)

People usually access the Dark Web through the Tor browser.

The Tor browser operates on the Tor onion routing network that enables users maximum anonymity on the Internet. Even though people associate the Dark Web with criminal activity, its main purpose is to allow people access to a censorship-free internet where they cannot be tracked by governments or any other parties.

The need for this became especially clear after Snowden released documents about global mass surveillance programs in 2013. This would not have been possible without the Dark Web.

(Tor Project)

Dark Web Statistics

In 2022, there have been over 2 million daily Dark Web visitors.

The number of people who visit the Dark Web is usually around two million per day. In the latter part of the year, the number of Tor users exceeded three million on some days.

(Tor Metrics)

At 28%, respondents from BRICS countries are the most familiar with the darknet.

The latest available numbers from 2019 show that 6% of BRICS respondents said they were very familiar with the darknet, while more than 21% were somewhat familiar. Latin America and the Asia Pacific region were next with 26% of respondents claiming some familiarity with the darknet. The Middle East and Africa stood at 23%, while the global average was 24%, according to darknet stats.

(Statista)

India, at 26%, has the highest percentage of people who have used technologies for accessing the Dark Web.

The number of Dark Web users by country shows that Russia comes second with 22%, followed by Brazil with 21%, and Indonesia with 20%. Turkey comes next with 16%. Contrastingly, only 1% of respondents in Nigeria use the darknet.

(Statista)

The number of Russians who use Tor and need additional support to avoid censorship has grown in 2022.

Dark Web statistics for 2022 show that Russian citizens make up the second largest group of daily users, with approximately 15%. As the Russian government increased the pressure on the free internet and went after Tor, the community increased the number of “bridges” by about 1200, enabling users from Russia to access information more safely.

(Tor Project)

The main reason people don’t use the Dark Web is they don’t know how to.

46% of internet users in the survey claimed this as their main detractor to accessing the Dark Web. 45% said they didn’t need to access it, while 14% said Tor and the Dark Web sound like they should be illegal. 13% stated their reason for avoiding the Dark Web was its reputation for being used by criminals.

(Statista)

In 2021, the global Dark Web intelligence market stood at $341.7 million.

This part of the deep web has a large market for gathering intelligence. In 2021, it equalled $341.7 million. It’s expected to grow at a CAGR of 21.3% between 2022 to 2031, when it’s expected to reach $2.30 billion.

(Allied Market Research)

8% of Telegram users use Telegram for darknet channels.

Dark Web numbers show the connection between the best privacy-centric messenger apps and the darknet. Telegram’s famously secure encryption motivates privacy-conscious internet users to communicate on apps such as Telegram, so it’s not a surprise that 8% of the app's users also participate in Telegram’s darknet channels.

(Statista)

Is the Dark Web Dangerous?

56.8% of the Dark Web’s content is illegal in some way.

Dangerous? Dark Web stats show that it absolutely can be. According to a paper from ResearchGate, cybercrime forums, illegal marketplaces, extremist platforms, and illegal violent content make up more than half of the content. However, there are also plenty of normal sites that are there to help citizens in different countries access uncensored information, or help researchers find the right data.

(ResearchGate)

6.7% of users access the Dark Web intending to use it for illegal purposes.

Another, more recent paper shows that only 6.7% of users come to the Dark Web planning to access illegal content or marketplaces. The darknet stats presented in the paper also state that this varies significantly depending on the country, as people from repressive regimes primarily come for uncensored information, while people from countries with less censorship are more likely to use it for criminal activity.

(ResearchGate)

The first, and once the largest marketplace on the Dark Web was the Silk Road.

Founded in 2011, the Silk Road was the largest darknet marketplace where traders were able to sell and buy any type of goods with full anonymity. The original Dark Web money was Bitcoin, then barely known about in the mainstream, which provided another level of protection from prying eyes (as it still does).

(Investopedia)

The US government seized a crypto wallet with almost $1 billion in Bitcoin, originating from Silk Road funds.

An interesting fact about the silk road and the Dark Web is that these funds were stolen first by an anonymous person between 2012 and 2013. Only in 2020 had they been traced by the US government and seized. There were more than 69,369 Bitcoins inside, making the Silk Road one of the biggest gainers and losers in cryptocurrency history.

(Bleeping Computer)

In 2022, what used to be the largest active darknet marketplace, Hydra, fell in a US government crackdown.

Hydra’s revenue experienced astonishing growth from less than 10 million in 2016 to more than 1.3 billion in 2020. Its users used virtual currency for cybercrime, drug trade, and other criminal services.

Hydra was based in Russia, and as Dark Web statistics show, 86% of the illegal Bitcoin in Russian virtual currency exchanges came from Hydra. The worth of Bitcoin seized from Hydra in 2022 amounted to about $25 million.

(US Treasury)

More than 8 million users are registered on the ten most active Dark Web hacking forums.

There are also 80 million messages posted, and more than 7 million topics opened. Since the pandemic started, there has been an increase in hacking activity. Also, the number of posted hacking ads per month started growing significantly in 2020. One explanation for this rapid growth is the proliferation of online business activity, which has also attracted cybercriminals.

(PTSecurity)

Hacked crypto accounts are getting more affordable on the Dark Web in 2022.

Dark Web numbers point to a staggering plunge in hacked account prices, even for verified crypto accounts. According to the Dark Web Price Index 2022, the price for a Kraken verified account dropped from $810 in 2021 to only $250 in 2022. Similarly, the numbers for Coinbase show a decrease in price from $610 to $120. The explanation for this price change is the growing supply of criminally sourced goods.

(Privacy Affairs)

4.5 million credit card details ended up on the Dark Web in December 2021.

One of the Dark Web facts that will scare you (and should make you rethink your security) is that you can get Canadian, Australian, and US credit card details for as little as $1! The most expensive credit card details are for Hong Kong cards at $20 apiece.

(Privacy Affairs)

50 hacked PayPal account logins cost only $200 in 2022.

Paypal account logins are among the most listed darknet marketplace items. As with other stolen accounts, the supply in 2022 surged, slashing the prices. Other payment accounts sold include Cashapp, Stripe, Weststein Card, TransferGo, and several others.

(Privacy Affairs)

Drug sales on the darknet make up only 0.2% of combined EU and US illegal drug markets.

Facts about the Dark Web show that while the drug trade is a significant part of the darknet, with revenue reaching up to $315 million per year between 2017 and 2020, it’s hardly a drop in the sea of global drug sales. Compared to the combined drug sales in the US and the EU, the darknet sales would only make up 0.2% of the entire estimated revenue.

(The Department of the US Treasury)

Dark Web FAQ

How much of the internet is the Dark Web?

While the exact size of the Dark Web is difficult to pinpoint, estimates place it at around 5% of the entire internet.

(CSO)

How big is the Deep Web?

The Deep Web is estimated at 96% to 99% of the whole web.

(CSO)

How many people use the Dark Web?

About two to three million people use the Dark Web daily in 2022.

(Tor Metrics)

How much of the internet is the Surface Web?

The Surface Web is about 4% of the entire internet, with the percentage varying only slightly depending on the estimate.

(Norton)

Is the Dark Web 99% of the internet?

No. The Dark Web is only a small subsection of the internet’s largest part, the Deep Web. It is the Deep Web that takes up between 96% and 99% of the internet, according to different estimates.

(Norton)

What is mostly on the Dark Web?

An analysis in an academic paper on ResearchGate found that 56.8% of Dark Web activities is illegal in some way: cybercrime forums, illegal marketplaces, extremist platforms, and illegal violent content. Other sites on the Dark Web are regular sites like news portals, forums, torrent sites, and other peer-to-peer networks. It also contains useful research data and literature for scientists and professionals from all fields.

(ResearchGate)

Conclusion

The Dark Web offers anonymity and security to criminals, spies, and extremists, earning the bad reputation it has in the mainstream. On the other hand, Dark Web statistics and facts prove that the smallest part of the internet is nevertheless immensely valuable to the freedom and availability of information around the world. Whether you’re in a country with heavily censored media or not, the Dark Web can provide you with the anonymity the World Wide Web was originally beloved for.

Sources:

Dunja Radonic

Dunja Radonic

Dunja is an English Literature graduate with years of experience as a writer and translator. She doesn't mind diving into as many reports and numbers as she can—especially about topics like crypto that still need some translating to the public—’cause she loves to get the message across. When she's not working, you'll find her running wild with her pack of dogs, playing board games, or bingeing on pop science videos.