There has been a lot of talk about the DarkNet in the news lately, especially with all the hoopla and news about the Bitcoin internet currency. But what is the DarkNet exactly? Basically that is is the name of the highly anonymous part of the “deep web” where users can buy and sell goods and services, talk about political issues, and even submit anonymous tips and documents to news sources (for whistleblowers).
What Can You Find On The Darknet?
The Darknet is a wide expanse of internet wild west that is not readily available to the general public. It feels very futuristic in the way of Blade Runner and science fiction black markets. And in a way it is. You can find lots of illegal activity on the Darknet, but you can also find forums and blogs that are havens for political activists in politically oppressed countries.
Since the Darknet doesn’t really have a Google type search engine to get you around, the only way to really find things is to get links from other pages. The basics of the Darknet can be accessed by link directories. One such directory is called the Onion, which is a Wiki that can help you find certain things. From there you can set out on your own.
The Darknet has a good and productive side where you can find blogs, forums, essays, political advocacy, and other similar things. These are often a great haven for people in oppressed countries where posting politcal dissent could mean the death penalty or imprisonment.
There is also a very dark side, where you can find pornography, weapons, drugs, and even hitmen. This is where things get weird, and I advise that you don’t even start trying to look for this stuff.
Accessing The DarkNet
So how does one even begin to delve into the layers of this seamy underbelly of the internet? Well first, you must take some precautions. Although the DarkNet is highly anonymous, there are a few things that the average user should be made aware of.
First of all, you need a specialized Tor enabled browser in order to access Darknet sites. This is because of the way Darknet funnels your connection through various checkpoints that randomize your connection before getting you to your final destination. Each encrypted checkpoint will erase your path – it’s a lot like taking a bunch of twists and turns to evade a follower. This anonymity of browsing is at the heart of the Darknet, and ensures that you are private.
Also keep in mind that all the normal internet “baddies” can get you – you can get infected with malware or a virus if you download an infected file, just the same as if you were using the “surface net”. So keep your guard up.