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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. Two typical darknet types are friend-to-friend networks (usually used for file sharing with a peer-to-peer connection) and anonymity networks such as Tor via an anonymized series of connections.

The reciprocal term for an encrypted darknet is clearnet or surface web when referring to search engine indexable content.


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