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A darknet (or dark net) is an overlay network that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations, or authorization, often using non-standard communications protocols and ports. Use of darknets is motivated by hiding the content or even the existence of data and communication from competing business or government interests. The most widespread darknets are governmental and corporate intranets, the use of which is a standard security practice nowadays,[1] friend-to-friend[2] networks (usually used for file sharing with a peer-to-peer connection)[3] and privacy networks such as Tor.

The reciprocal term for an encrypted darknet is clearnet[4][5][6] or surface web when referring to search engine indexable content.[7]


Originally coined in the 1970s to designate networks which were isolated from ARPANET (which evolved into the Internet) for security purposes,[8] darknets were able to receive data from ARPANET but had addresses which 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",[9] 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 DRM technologies and inevitability of copyright infringement.


Journalist J. D. Lasica in his 2005 book Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation describes the darknet's reach encompassing file sharing networks.[10] Consequently, in 2014, journalist Jamie Bartlett in his book The Dark Net would use it as a term to describe a range of underground and emergent sub cultures, including

As of 2015, "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 used inaccurately and interchangeably with the Deep Web search due to Tor's history as a platform that could not be search indexed. Mixing uses of both of these terms has been described as inaccurate,[12] with some commentators recommending the terms be used in distinct fashions.[13][14]


Darknets in general may be used for various reasons, such as:


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 server configured to perform the same function.


A cartogram illustrating Tor usage


See also


  1. "Google Moves Its Corporate Applications to the Internet". Retrieved 2 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Wood, Jessica (2010). "The Darknet: A Digital Copyright Revolution" (PDF). Richmond Journal of Law and Technology. 16 (4): 15–17. Retrieved 25 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  4. Miller, Tessa (10 January 2014). "How Can I Stay Anonymous with Tor?". Life Hacker. Retrieved 7 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Torpey, Kyle (2 December 2014). "Blockchain.info Launches Tor Hidden Service". Inside Bitcoins. Retrieved 9 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Roger, Jolly. "Clearnet vs Hidden Services—Why You Should Be Careful". Jolly Roger’s Security Guide for Beginners. DeepDotWeb. Retrieved 4 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Barratt, Monica (15 January 2015). "A Discussion About Dark Net Terminology". Drugs, Internet, Society. Retrieved 14 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Om Darknet". Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Lasica, J. D. (2005). Darknets: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-68334-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Ian, Burrell (28 August 2014). "The Dark Net:Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett, book review". Retrieved 3 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Clearing Up Confusion – Deep Web vs. Dark Web". BrightPlanet.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. NPR Staff (25 May 2014). "Going Dark: The Internet Behind The Internet". Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Greenberg, Andy (19 November 2014). "Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Dark Web?". Retrieved 6 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Anticounterfeiting on the Dark Web - Distinctions between the Surface Web, Dark Web and Deep Web" (PDF). 13 April 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links