Hollywood has caught on to the plot-thickening abilities of the so-called Deep Web. It’s the part of the Internet -- which is most of it, in fact -- that is inaccessible by your average search engine.

“House of Cards” and “The Good Wife” are just a couple of shows that have put the Deep Web at the centre of their plotlines. But the average Internet user may not know what it is, what information it holds and whether or not they can access it.

Here’s a quick primer on the Deep Web, and what it means for you.

What is the Deep Web, and how is it different from the “regular” Internet?

“The simple way of putting it is that there’s two parts to the Internet,” cyber security expert Patrick Malcolm told CTV’s Canada AM. “There’s a part that the search engines search, or index, and that’s a very tiny part of the Internet, and then everything else is the Deep Web. So it’s the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg that we search with things like Google.”

Google says it only searches 0.004 per cent of the entire Internet, Malcolm notes, so it’s “a very small, tiny piece of the internet that’s being indexed for browsing.”

Can anyone access the Deep Web?

The short answer is yes, Malcolm says.

“The deep web includes things like password-protected areas, or privacy settings on social media,” he says. “The Internet is not indexing those parts of the Internet, but it’s still accessible by people such as yourself.”

Other content that resides in the Deep Web include pages that pop up when you submit a question or information via an online form and sites that have used code to limit access to their content.

What is the difference between the Deep Web and the Dark Web?

“When we think about the Internet’s dark web we’re now talking about the more anonymous part of the Internet,” Malcolm says.

A lot of good can happen in the Dark Web, he says, “but a lot of bad as well.”

“The good part could be maybe law enforcement is conducting an operation or military units are communicating using operational secrecy, or perhaps dissidents in a country are trying to communicate about their government, which is monitoring their Internet communications,” Malcom says. Journalists may also receive documents from whistleblowers via the Dark Web.

However, the Dark Web can also be used for everything from arms trafficking to drug sales to the distribution of child pornography because it cannot be accessed by traditional means.