Every so often a reference is made to the ‘darknet’, or ‘deep web’, or ‘hidden Internet’ in news stories.
We are accustomed to only accessing the Internet in a few specific ways. The World Wide Web, which is built of the web pages we access, is one of those. It depends upon a hierarchy of specialized servers that turn unremarkable strings of numbers like 188.8.131.52 into http://www.google.com.
However, the Internet is merely an agreed-upon protocol to exchange information, and can take many forms. A small office or a local community can build their own iteration of such a service, often called an ‘Intranet’, that hosts resources relevant to and local to them. These materials are usually not accessible to the general public.
One example of a darknet makes use of this protocol, and another called TOR, short for The Onion Router. The TOR protocol encrypts traffic and bounces it between participating systems, making it difficult-to-impossible to determine where a request originated from.
Rather than an easy-to-remember names like yahoo.com or msn.com, the addresses are themselves randomized, ending with the suffix .onion. An example might be: eqt5g4fuenphqinx.onion
As there are no search engines (yet) for the darknet, you must either already know the address you want to visit, or have the address for a site that itself has links to the site you want to access. Obviously this is very inconvenient for the casual user, but if one wants to post material that is legally questionable for a given region, a darknet is a place to keep it and make it accessible to others.
An older type of darknet that works on similar principles is called Freenet, and works in a similar manner, though it does not itself directly involve the TOR network.
If you would like to know more, or want your system set up to access these resources, please contact Savvy Computers!