What is the Darknet? Read on if you feel watched…

14 11 2013

When online communications with your clients might be regularly ‘watched’ by strangers, it’s only reasonable to seek alternative web connections capable of providing greater privacy. Loosely and collectively referred to as the “Deep Web” or “Darknet”, encrypted internet sites are capable – for now – of doing just that. And when you are working with documents you have promised to keep secure, they may be worth looking into.

“Tor” – The Onion Router — is a prominent anonymity network used in a number of countries by journalists, activists, the military, police, businesses, and ordinary individuals uncomfortable with surveillance. Its browser bundle is available for anyone to download in over a dozen languages at www.torproject.org, and there is online help offered for installation and use, all features which make it highly desirable for the transmission of sensitive translations.

“Orbot” is a free proxy app for Google Androids that empowers other apps to use the internet more securely (information and download link also available on Tor’s website). Tor and Orbot are both free and open to participation by users for the development of program code and content translations. In fact, the Tor site states, the more Tor participants there are, the higher the level of security for everyone.

Like the internet in general, Tor has attracted some measure of criminal activity, but its origins were legitimate. Tor was first fostered by the U.S. Naval Research Library with the goal of protecting government communications. Ironically, the U.S. government has attempted to break into civilian Tor transmissions it wishes to monitor, but with little success, according to The Guardian.

Winner of the 2012 Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award, Tor cannot guarantee impenetrable security, but as it “bounces your encrypted traffic several times through computers around the world” (Tor website) it is currently quite effective.

J. McShulskis

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