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.
, "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 (cracking, 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 <!--best known/-->most popular instance of a darknet.<!--and often mistakenly equated with the darknet as a whole-->
- Tribler can be run as a darknet for file-sharing.<!--more details needed-->
- Zeronet is open source software aimed to build an internet-like computer network of peer-to-peer users of Tor.
No longer supported
==See also==<!-- New links in alphabetical order plese -->
- Dark web
- Deep web
- Private P2P
- Virtual private network (VPN)