A darknet (or dark net) is any overlay network that can be accessed only with specific software, configurations, or authorization, often using non-standard communications protocols and ports. Two typical darknet types are friend-to-friend networks (usually used for file sharing with a peer-to-peer connection) and privacy networks such as Tor.
As of 2015[update], "The Darknet" is often used interchangeably with the dark web due to the quantity of hidden services on Tor's darknet. The term is often inaccurately used interchangeably with the deep web due to Tor's history as a platform that could not be search-indexed. Mixing uses of both these terms has been described as inaccurate, with some commentators recommending the terms be used in distinct fashions.
"Darknet" was coined in the 1970s to designate networks that were isolated from ARPANET (which evolved into the Internet), for security purposes. Darknet addresses could receive data from ARPANET but did not appear in the network lists and would not answer pings or other inquiries.
The term gained public acceptance following publication of "The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution", a 2002 paper by Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman, four employees of Microsoft who argued that the presence of the darknet was the primary hindrance to the development of workable digital rights management (DRM) technologies and made copyright infringement inevitable.
Journalist J. D. Lasica, in his 2005 book Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation, described the darknet's reach encompassing file sharing networks. Consequently, in 2014, journalist Jamie Bartlett in his book The Dark Net used it to describe a range of underground and emergent subcultures, including camgirls, cryptoanarchists, darknet drug markets, Self Harm communities, social media racists, and transhumanists.
Darknets in general may be used for various reasons, such as:
- Computer crime (hacking, file corruption etc.)
- Protecting dissidents from political reprisal
- File sharing (warez, personal files, pornography, confidential files, illegal or counterfeit software etc.)
- To better protect the privacy rights of citizens from targeted and mass surveillance
- Sale of restricted goods on darknet markets
- Whistleblowing and news leaks
- Purchase or sale of illicit or illegal goods or services
- Circumvent network censorship and content-filtering systems, or to bypass restrictive firewall-policies.
- Exercising human rights such as the right to speak or contract free from commercial or state interference.
- Avoiding emotional battery (crime) such as that may be inflicted as a result of Neuromarketing.
- Refusing to consent to surveillance on communications networks where no right to consent is formally recognized or honored between the Internet Service Provider and the end user.
All darknets require specific software installed or network configurations made to access them, such as Tor, which can be accessed via a customised browser from Vidalia (aka the Tor browser bundle), or alternatively via a proxy configured to perform the same function.
- Decentralized network 42 (not for anonymity but research purposes)
- Freenet is a popular darknet (friend-to-friend) by default; since version 0.7 it can run as a "opennet" (peer nodes are discovered automatically).
- GNUnet can be utilised as a darknet if the "F2F (network) topology" option is enabled.
- I2P (Invisible Internet Project) is another overlay network that features a darknet whose sites are called "Eepsites".
- OneSwarm can be run as a darknet for friend-to-friend file-sharing.
- RetroShare can be run as a darknet (friend-to-friend) by default to perform anonymous file transfers if DHT and Discovery features are disabled.
- Riffle is a client-server darknet system that simultaneously provides secure anonymity (as long as at least one server remains uncompromised), efficient computation, and minimal bandwidth burden.
- Syndie is software used to publish distributed forums over the anonymous networks of I2P, Tor and Freenet.
- Tor (The onion router) is an anonymity network that also features a darknet - its "hidden services". It is the most popular instance of a darknet.
- Tribler can be run as a darknet for file-sharing.
- Zeronet is open source software aimed to build an internet-like computer network of peer-to-peer users of Tor.
No longer supported
- Dark web
- Deep web
- Private P2P
- Virtual private network (VPN)
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- Miller, Tessa (10 January 2014). "How Can I Stay Anonymous with Tor?". Life Hacker. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- Torpey, Kyle (2 December 2014). "Blockchain.info Launches Tor Hidden Service". Inside Bitcoins. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
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- Barratt, Monica (15 January 2015). "A Discussion About Dark Net Terminology". Drugs, Internet, Society. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
- "Clearing Up Confusion – Deep Web vs. Dark Web". BrightPlanet.
- NPR Staff (25 May 2014). "Going Dark: The Internet Behind The Internet". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- Greenberg, Andy (19 November 2014). "Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Dark Web?". Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- "Om Darknet". Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2012.[dead link]
- Biddle, Peter; England, Paul; Peinado, Marcus; Willman, Bryan (18 November 2002). The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution (PDF). ACM Workshop on Digital Rights Management. Washington, D.C.: Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- Lasica, J. D. (2005). Darknets: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-68334-5.
- Ian, Burrell (28 August 2014). "The Dark Net:I nside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett, book review". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- Taylor, Harriet (19 May 2016). "Hit men, drugs and malicious teens: the darknet is going mainstream".
- "Who uses Tor?". Tor Project. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- Bennett, Krista; Grothoff, Christian; Kügler, Dennis (2003). Dingledine, Roger, ed. Privacy Enhancing Technologies Third International Workshop (PET 2003). Springer-Verlag (Heidelberg). pp. 141–175. ISBN 9783540206101.
- Xiang, Yang; Lopez, Javier; Jay Kuo, C.-C.; Zhou, Wanlei, eds. (2012). Cyberspace Safety and Security: 4th International Symposium : Proceedings (CSS 2012). Springer (Heidelberg). pp. 89, 90. ISBN 9783642353628.
- Young Hyun Kwon (20 May 2015). "Riffle: An Efficient Communication System with Strong Anonymity" (PDF). Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office (11 July 2016). "How to stay anonymous online". Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- "Anticounterfeiting on the Dark Web - Distinctions between the Surface Web, Dark Web and Deep Web" (PDF). 13 April 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
Media related to Darknet at Wikimedia Commons
- Boutin, Paul (January 28, 2004). "See You on the Darknet". Slate.
- "File-sharing 'darknet' unveiled". BBC News. August 16, 2006.
- Darknet 101 - introduction for non technical people