What is the Dark Net?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 1, 2022, 9:56

The Dark Net is a secret underground network that cannot be accessed through conventional search engines such as Google. Accessing it requires special browsers such as TOR (The Onion Router) or I2P (Invisible Internet Project).

Developed initially to secure users against government interventions and cyber-attacks, the Dark Net is now chiefly used for illegal activities like selling drugs, weapons, or confidential personal information.

Dark Net vs Deep Web

The terms Dark Net and deep web are often confused as synonymous. However, there is a huge difference between the two. While deep web also refers to sites un-indexed by search engines, they are not necessarily dark. The information on the deep web is usually encrypted and hence invisible.

The deep web constitutes the majority of the web and contains information that requires login, such as:

  • Online banking details
  • Pay websites
  • File hosting services
  • Private databases such as email accounts, social media accounts, etc.

The Dark Net is a part of the deep web used especially for nefarious activities.

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Advantages of the Dark Net

The Dark Net can be helpful for people who want to protect their privacy and freely express their views without facing extreme censorship. Furthermore, with increasing concern about government snooping and unauthorized data collection, the Dark Net can be an excellent way to maintain anonymity and secrecy.

It is also helpful for whistle-blowers or journalists who fear data leakage while communicating.

Dark Side of the Dark Net

  • Potential Identity Misuse

The Dark Net is a profitable and viable marketplace for selling stolen or leaked personal records. Identities, credit cards, and bank account details are among the most wanted products on the Dark Net.

  • Malware and Ransomware

The Dark Net is also a hot spot for selling ransomware kits that can sabotage private and public websites. Being on the Dark Net can also put your endpoint security program at the risk of catching malware infection.

  • Drug Trafficking

The Dark Net is relatively impermeable and thus acts as a safe haven for drug dealers to trade drugs online without being found out. Silk Road Marketplace is one such example of a Dark Net site that sold illegal items online. Though the government took the site down in 2013, numerous similar marketplaces have emerged on the Dark Net.

  • Terrorism

The anonymous chat rooms make it easier for criminals to coordinate their terror activities, spread propaganda, raise funds, and share information. They also use the Dark Net to purchase illegal weapons and explosives with virtual currencies like Bitcoin.

  • Child Pornography

Child pornography is rampant on the Dark Net. Despite several attempts to bust such sites by the police worldwide, the identity of people sharing such content remains elusive.

The Way Forward - Dark Net

  • Government and law authorities worldwide should strengthen their legal framework to include cyber-security and eliminate illegal activities on the Dark Net.
  • Since most illegal transactions on the Dark Net are facilitated through crypto-currency, agencies set up to keep track of crypto-currencies used for nefarious activities can help.
  • There must be international cooperation in the form of multilateral exchanges and joint capacity building to resolve the issue.
  • The Kerala Police's Cyber Dome project which aims to combat emerging cyber threats through effective surveillance is a step taken in the right direction.

The Dark Net has become a forum for conducting illicit activities and spreading crime. Therefore, all governments must work towards preventing the misuse of the net and ensure protection through legislation.

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FAQs on Dark Net

Q.1. What is the Dark Net?

The Dark Net is a secret underground network that cannot be accessed through conventional search engines such as Google.

Q.2. What is the difference between the Dark Net and the deep web?

The deep web includes all un-indexed sites not accessible through search engines. The Dark Net is a part of the deep web used for nefarious activities.

Q.3. Is it illegal to access the Dark Net?

No, the Dark Net can also be used for legitimate purposes by people (journalists, whistle-blowers, etc.) who want to maintain their anonymity.

Q.4. What are the concerns regarding the Dark Net?

Data theft, terrorism, drug trafficking, and child pornography are the major concerns of the Dark Net.