Darknet (file sharing)

Darknet (English for " Dark Network") describes in computer science, a peer -to-peer network whose participants make their connections to each other manually. This concept is in contrast to conventional peer-to -peer networks, where most of the connections to the clients of other persons are initiated automatically and arbitrarily. As a result, offers a darknet a higher level of security because an attacker is not readily access the network possible - or he does not know anything, ideally of the existence of the network. In order to integrate new people into the darknet, these usually have to be invited by participants / accepted. In places, this is only possible participants who have higher privileges.


The data is transmitted often encrypted and stored. Their application ranges from normal data exchange between individuals over small file-sharing networks for music and movies up to networking of dissidents. To counter the accusation of the use, for example, for copyright infringement by music exchange, is held up by Darknet operators, that freedom of expression, censorship, especially in countries like China, can be strengthened through such networks. However, a darknet also allows anonymous disclosure of identities, for example, the disclosure of which person would represent that opinion.

Such networks are usually small, often with fewer than ten participants. In general it can be any closed group of people communicating a darknet. The larger the group is, however, the more uncertain it becomes. Frequently the term is also used interchangeably with friend-to -friend networks, and then includes large networks where indirect connections through familiar nodes are established. However, larger networks require a higher transmission latency compared to direct transmission and algorithms for detecting unreliable nodes.


If the power is used for file sharing, called darknet a kind of friend-to -friend network ( F2F ). Most file sharing programs are not darknet, because the nodes (peers) to every other node (public, unaudited peers ) can communicate on the network.

A friend - to-friend network differs from a Darknet inasmuch as the friend-to - friend network supports the forwarding of files to the friends of the friends, the IP addresses of friends but the friends are not apparent. A F2F network must therefore be organized locally ( you know the IP addresses of friends, but their friends do not ), a darknet can also be organized centrally (that is, a hub with all the friends could be a darknet, but here know all the IP addresses of all).

Perhaps the most famous darknet software is WASTE by Nullsoft. A real F2F network can be built through the Instant Messenger Turtle F2F, which also allows file sharing on the client giFT. Not the friends of friends - This is known as a participant - unlike WASTE in broadcast mode. In Turtle thus a turtle network is established in which only let establish connections that come from audited friends. However, Turtle seems not to be further developed, but similar approaches are also followed by Retroshare, hybrid Share or Gazzera.

Freenet, a network for anonymous and uncensored exchange of information, has been working since version 0.7 out to form a global darknet, which may have millions of participants. Such an atypical darknet should be possible through an application of the small-world phenomenon.

Earlier versions of Apple's iTunes made ​​it possible for a user to specify the IP address of another subnet and to share their music with users on this subnet as in a darknet. Later versions do not offer this feature, but the user can still stream music in your own subnet. However, there are hacks that allow users of such a network iTunes to download music from each other, without having to accept losses in the quality in purchasing.

Origin of the term

The word darknet comes from the article The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution from the year 2002. Four Microsoft employees argue is the presence of darknet is the main obstacle in developing working techniques for digital rights management.