Into the Darknet: An Expanded Glossary of Terms

At OWL Cybersecurity, we believe in the importance of educating everyone on the darknet. Much of the terminology we use to discuss darknet related content is common to those familiar with computer networking and information security, but like a foreign language to the general reader. Below are the first of a series of posts covering key terms and definitions you will find helpful as you continue to learn about the darknet and how it can affect both you and your business. Keep an eye on our Blog, as well as our continually-growing Darknet 101 Terms page, as we will continue to add to our list of terms over time.


Bitcoin: One of the most popular cryptocurrencies in use today. As of publication date (3/24/17), 1 Bitcoin = 984.35 U.S. dollars. 

Blockchain: Essentially a distributed database. Information within a blockchain is publicly shared across all participating users or machines. With regards to Bitcoin, the Bitcoin blockchain is a public record of all Bitcoin transactions which helps to verify transactions and prevent double spending.

Carding: The practice of stealing and selling credit card information.

Clearnet: The "regular" internet (non-Tor), often referred to as the surface web. 

Cryptocurrency: Virtual currency that employs cryptography for security purposes.

DARKINT: Short for darknet intelligence, DARKINT encompasses actionable data from the darknet and other interconnected sources, including Tor, IRC channels, hacker forums, FTP servers, paste sites, high-risk surface internet and more.

Darknet Market: A marketplace website hosted on a darknet (such as Tor), setup to provide the sale of goods and services while maintaining anonymity of vendors and buyers; also known as a cryptomarket.

Dox: The act of posting or publicizing an individual's personally identifiable information (PII), commonly done to expose said individual's true identity or for other, typically malicious, purposes.

Exit Scam: A scam in which a darknet market admin or vendor shuts down operation while stealing as much money as possible from their users and/or buyers in the process.

Hidden Service: Another term for a .onion (Tor) site.

Honey Pot: A website or hidden service setup by law enforcement in an attempt to attract and identify individuals who participate in illegal activity.

IP Address (aka Internet Protocol): A unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies a computer connected to the internet, e.g. 192.168.10.2 (iPv4).

Mirror site: A site with the same content as another site but a different domain.

Pastebin: A surface net site used to publicly post and store text for a certain, often short, period of time. Pastebin ties closely with the darknet as it is an easy way to anonymously share information without the need for a specialty based browser, such as Tor.

Protocol: Refers to the scheme in which internet content is retrieved and displayed to a browser. Tor and the darknet leverage “non-standard communication protocol” which refers to the complex set of onion proxy methods to obscure the identity of the requestor and the content server.  Protocol can also refer to a method of financial transaction, e.g. bitcoin.

Relay (aka node): Within Tor there are over 7,000 relays, mostly internal. When a request to access a particular hidden service is made, the browser calculates the optimal route through a series of relays, exchanging cryptographic keys between nodes, to display the content without disclosing the IP address of the request originator.

Tor (aka The Onion Router): A free web browser designed for anonymous internet browsing and protection against network traffic analysis; the most commonly used tool for accessing and browsing the darknet.

Tumble: A method of scrambling or anonymizing the source of one’s bitcoins.

Wiki: Like the surface net site Wikipedia, a darknet wiki is a website that allows registered users to collaboratively write and edit content directly from their browser. Example: The Hidden Wiki.


Curious about something you've read on our blog? Want to learn more? Please reach out - we're more than happy to have a conversation.