Dark Net

2020 MAR 9

Mains   > Science and Technology   >   IT & Computers   >   Information technology


The number of users of dark net in India has been rising. A major dark net related arrest in India was recently made by the Narcotics Control Bureau.


  • The Internet is made up of billions of individual sites that are connected to one another in various, intricate ways. The indexed part where sites are accessible through common search engines are referred to as surface web.
  • Another part of the Internet is a group of sites referred to as the deep web. The deep web encompasses all unindexed sites which is not accessible through search engines.


  • The dark net, also known as the dark web, is a component of the greater deep web. The dark net refers to websites that are specifically used for nefarious reasons.
  • Dark net sites are purposefully hidden from the surface net by additional means. One of the most common ways of hiding out is through encryption. Most dark net websites use the Tor or Invisible Internet Project (I2P) to help hide their identity.
  • The Tor encryption tool uses many layers of encryption and anonymizes all traffic by routing it through a dense network of secure relays. When individuals use Tor, their IP addresses and other identifying information is similarly encrypted.
  • In order to hide exchanges in this hidden economy, cryptocurrencies are often used for transactions.


  • Black markets activities like illegal file sharing and exchange of stolen financial and private data.
  • By journalists and individuals living under oppressive regimes that block large parts of the internet or punish political dissent. E.g.: It was used by activists during the Arab Spring.
  • Whistleblowers and good Samaritans to bring out critical information without fear of repercussions.
  • By researchers on sensitive topics as it is known to have large virtual libraries.
  • As a backup plan, many organizations maintain a hidden website on dark net. Nearly every major newspaper, Facebook, and even the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has hidden websites in Tor.
  • By law enforcement agencies for sting operations.


  • Anonymity: Because of their end-to-end encryption, dark net offers a high degree of anonymity and thus it is near impossible to track.
  • Abode of illicit activities: Due to the privacy and anonymity, the dark web has become a springboard for crime. Some of the most prevalent illicit activities include arms trafficking, drug dealing, hacking & technological crime services and the sharing of exploitative content such as child pornography.
  • Parallel economy: Dark net facilitates an anonymous and unregulated market. India has lost $18.5 Bn in 2017 due to business done on the digital black markets, according to a March 2019 report by Indian foreign policy think tank Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations
  • Challenges in gather evidence: Due to their global nature and strong encryption, it offers multiple complexities and roadblocks in investigation. The pairing of dark web services with cryptocurrencies has led to a boom in criminal activities.
  • Privacy and ethical concerns: Decrypting communications to catch criminals has been opposed by activists as it would risk everyone’s data present on the dark web. Thus, decryption is posing an ethical dilemma.
  • Lack of expertise: Dark Web is an unknown territory and a specialized group of people are needed to counter such a threat. However, India has a deficit in cybersecurity professionals.   According to a recent workforce development survey, 59% of organizations have vacant cyber security positions. It also forecasts a shortfall of 1.5 million by 2020 globally.


  • Information Technology Act, 2000:
    • It was enacted with the primary objective of regulating e-commerce in the country. However, it also includes provisions dealing with unauthorized use of internet or computers. It is often referred to as the cyber law of India.
    • It contains a wide range of offences such as tempering with computer sources, sending offensive messages, violation of privacy; publishing obscene material etc., all of which are recognized as illegal activities under the Indian Penal Code.
  • Cyberdome project:
    • Cyberdome is a technological research and development center of Kerala Police Department. It is conceived as a cyber center of excellence in cybersecurity, as well as technology augmentation for effective policing.
    • It is a motley crew of ethical hackers, expert coders, youth prodigies skilled in software, law enforcers and civilian volunteers who huddle behind flickering computer terminals at the office, with most of them offering their services for free.
  • Darknet/network telescope-based cyber security monitoring and interference framework:
    • Union Ministry of IT and Electronics plans to set up a darknet/network telescope-based cyber security monitoring and interference framework Centre.
    • The darknet framework will capture and analyze data, development of a database and navigation-cum-visualization framework and creation of a fully automated malware analysis system.


  • India is expected to be one of the largest players in the cyberspace in the coming years. But for it to be safe and beneficial, India needs to ensure a proper regulatory environment that ensures security and privacy.
  • India should strengthen its cyber security capabilities. People must be made aware of the relevance of cyber security. For the same, the scope of initiatives under Digital India campaign needs to be enlarged.
  • To overcome the dearth in cyber security professionals, the government should play a proactive role by creating degree and PG courses in cyber security domain.
  • Even though the veil of secrecy is likely to become more digitally opaque, the darknet itself is destined to become far more mainstream in the coming future. Hence, India needs a code of criminal procedures dealing with cybercrime that would come under the Ministry of Home Affairs. 


Q. What is dark net. Discuss its applications and the threats it poses to India’s internal security?