DarkNet: Explained & Then Done Right

You should think of the DarkNet as the wild west of the digital hinter lands, the frontier.

The DarkNet is a corner of the internet where the unwary should not wander. It is a refuge for many types of individuals and organizations, both honest and dishonest, legal and illegal. Most of the herd does not even know this place exists but those that do know it is both powerful and dangerous. In this guide we will help you learn to take the dragon by the tail and tip your toes into the internet’s shadow lands.

The most important thing you need to know is that the DarkNet is a very secretive place. In a lot of way it is like that movie Fight Club…. “The First Rule of the DarkNet is that you DO NOT talk about the DarkNet”. However for the sake of your education we are breaking that rule because we believe your privacy is more important than supporting the DarkNet freeze.

Like anything else the DarkNet is a tool and like any other tool it is how it gets used by the person holding it that makes it good or evil. Let’s be honest there is some really bad stuff out there and a lot of it originates from the DarkNet. Its very nature makes it a haven for the nasty’s in the world. This corner of the web supports everything from private communications to private communities looking for the anonymity that the web used to represent in the early days to a new out let for the besieged file sharing community. It is also a home for outright criminals and the source of many of the web’s most dastardly attacks on the webs public and private infrastructures.

But let’s not be fooled the DarkNet is a dueling ground. If you think that the authorities do not know about this place and are not monitoring it heavily than you should stop reading. Is it hard to monitor, absolutely, but it is not impossible either. The old axiom, Keep your friends close and your enemies closure, is exactly what the law enforcement community practices where the DarkNet is concerned. Like our favorite Uncle Ben once told a young arachnid-oid, “With great power comes great responsibility”. The beauty of the DarkNet is that you can keep out of way of the unknowing herd and if you are smart you can dance circles around authority. But ONLY if you are smart, one slip and you will find your ass in a sling.

BE WARNED! Where the DarkNet is concerned you will be guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the judge.

The Darknet is a compilation of several components that can be used wither together or independently depending on the users activities. The first component is Freenet. Freenet is a software application that enables anonymous file sharing and chat as well as ‘freesite’ creation and access.  At base it is both a decentralized and anonymous network operating over the public Internets backbone and is in many ways the core of today’s DarkNet. Freenet’s decentralized nature makes it resilient to attack and difficult to detect, especially when it is operated in DarkNet mode through which users are only able to connect to trusted associates and friends.  While Freenet was once the true gateway there are now better ways.

Next we have TOR, which has also been around a long time but has continued to grow as a platform. It has been studied in depth by both the white and black hat communities. At its root TOR is a simple SOCKS proxy where your only choices are to be a relay, exit node, or client node. It has advantages in that it has a large number of talented developers, is funded for its maintenance, and development, and is the subject of extensive documentation and whitepapers. TOR takes a directory based approach, providing a centralized point to manage atop level view of the network which allows the gathering and reporting of statistics. This reduces node complexity and protects against Sybil attacks. Using TOR as an intermediary is one of the safest and fastest ways to access the DarkNet anonymously. Using a TOR connection in combination with the TOR browser opens up the world of .onion sites to you and allows you an entry into the DarkNet.

Yet another component of the DarkNet is I2P. I2P was created with internal networks in mind. Instead of providing out-proxies it is designed to provide a better environment for hosting services, which is the fundamental difference between I2P and TOR. I2P is optimized and designed to support hidden services, which suggest that it may be faster than TOR, because it lack centralization and is self-organizing. I2P is packet switched as opposed to circuit switched and as a result includes transparent load balancing across multiple peers. This means that all peers participate instead of depending on a single node to manage the load. I2P uses a self designed API to ensure anonymity which suggests better security than SOCKS based systems by using short life tunnels to decrease the number of samples available to outsider observers.

Another tried and true component of the DarkNet is Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which is a form of real-time text messaging that is conducted through dedicated channels. The dedicated channels are thought of by many as chat rooms and allow multiple simultaneous user access. This ability make an IRC chat room an optimal place to gather and engage in an ongoing conversation. On an IRC network with channels hosted in ‘Secret Mode’ you have at your fingertips what is essential an invisible and inaccessible forum that can be control can control access through the use of passwords, initiation requirements, or both.

The next major component of the DarkNet is what are known as ‘Derelict Websites’. These are sites that were once Legitimate but for whatever reason were abandoned. They could be sites that you set up in college and forgot about, or sites that once belong to know failed and forgotten companies, or even sites that were once used by the military in the early days of the net and left to die on the vine. Regardless of where they came from these sites represent ideal exploitable entities. Used the way some vagrants do a public park bench sleeping on them for a few nights and move on to avoid harassment by the authorities.

Are there more, other or different components? Of Course! But I will leave the additional research to you.

Like the rest of the internet and worldwide technology base the DarkNet is an ever evolving entity. Today’s tools will be tomorrow’s digital floss. For every step we take to hide ourselves others will find a way to look under the covers. With Internet Service Providers (ISP) cooperating more and more with authorities it is incumbent upon you to create a road to home that is so twisted even you would get lost trying to find it.

We now come to the very reason you have been likely been reading this. How do the uninitiated infiltrate the DarkNet? While by its very nature the DarkNet is by invitation only, an outsider can find their way in if they are both patient and persistent. Though largely ineffective you could try to send out search spiders. A much more effective route would be a more direct approach, as a detective, owning the search yourself. It is both a difficult and a time consuming process, but offers more fungible results.

Now that you know the dangers and some of the background  we are going to give it to you WhatTheServer Style.

We have developed a product specifically designed to serve as a DarkNet Gateway by making WhatTheServer your first line of defense. To start you will need to purchase our DarkNet VPS package. It includes the following:

  •  2 CPU cores
  • 10GB HDD space
  • 1024MB RAM
  • 1TB Banwidth
  • Bundled with our Premium VPN

The bundled VPN creates a log-less and obscured connection between your accessing IP and your DarkNet VPS.

The DarkNet VPS package costs $30 per month with the option to pay a one time $75 guided setup fee (2 hour Maximum) and requires a clean install. This only acceptable form of payment for this package is Bitcoin. Any orders created with any other payment type will be canceled, deleted, and refunded LESS PROCESSING FEES.

The guided setup includes walking you thorough the encrypted setup of encrypted LVM, pidgin+otr , the tor browser bundle, PGP keys, etc. This is by appointment which must be scheduled via ticket after the purchase of the package. Please be prepared to allow for a block of time as this will be done one on one with a member of our staff via remote support. This will allow you to see everything from start to finish install wise and prepare you for your own future implementation of our strategy.

 

Here is a basic guide to the WhatTheServer DarkNet implementation:

Mandatory Installs and Setup:

  1. Download and install an OpenVPN client for your OS from official vpn community site here. If you use windows you can feel free to use our custom installer located here. For Mac we suggest using Tunnelblick located here or Viscosity located here.
  2. For those not on the other listed operating systems use the OpenVPN client with our ca.crt and server.opvn file/s here or get them from the email attachment in your welcome email. You should extract to the ‘config’ folder  of your OpenVPN install.
  3. Run OpenVPN and choose your preferred OpenVPN server.
  4. If your using windows make sure that after you have OpenVPN installed and activated that you test for DNS leaks. To test for leaks please visit DNS leak test site. if you see any leaks please either utilize their patch for Windows or follow the instructions in this forum post and then retry the test. It is critical for your privacy and safety that you do this on all Windows computers that you plan to use the OpenVPN connection on. You can also test for webRTc leaks > https://www.vpnmentor.com/tools/ip-leak-test-vpns-tor/ or some more information here https://www.cloudwards.net/what-are-dns-leaks/
  5. Install Debian squeeze desktop
  6. Setup encrypted LVM and save encryption password
  7. Save Root Password
  8. Setup user acct and save password
  9. Install NX Free Edition for Linux (Client,Node, and Server) and then re-login via nxclient https://whattheserver.me/nxclient-debx86.zip
    https://whattheserver.me/nxclient-debx64.zipwindows nxclient
    https://whattheserver.me/nxclient-3.5.0-9.exe
  10. Go to synaptic package manager (System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manger) then got to settings>repositories>third party software edit the repositories and un-check any cd-rom sources
  11. Add the following as repos: (then save and exit)
  12. Open to root terminal (red one under Applications>Accessories>Root Terminal) when promoted for Administrator password enter the root password you set during the OS install.  Then check the option to save in ‘Keyring’ and follow the prompts to setup keyring master password.
  13. Run the following via root terminal(red one under Applications>Accessories>Root Terminal)
    • ‘gpg –keyserver keys.gnupg.net –recv 886DDD89
    • gpg –export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add -‘
    • ‘apt-get install bleachbit enigmail gpa gnupg gnupg-agent gnupg2 htop network-manager-openvpn network-manager-openvpn-gnome pidgin pidgin-encryption pidgin-openpgp pidgin-otr secure-delete chromium ntp ntpdate -y’
  14. Download the TOR Browser Bundle for Linux 64-Bit extract to a permanent location and then run the script to start
  15. Configure gedit for pgp encryption by going (Applications>Accessories>gedit); then click edit tab and go to (Preferences>Plugin) and enable ‘Text Encryption’ by filling in the check box. Then save and exit.
  16. Configure PGP encrypt/decrypt/sign plugin with gedit Preferences>plugin>text encryption plugin check and exit
  17. Create PGP key by going to (System>Preferences>Password & Encryption Keys>File>New). Then select PGP key and continue by following the prompts. Please not if using key strength of 4096 or higher we suggest you use the ‘Entropy’ section in the ‘Extras’ section below to speed the key creation process.
  18. Create TOR Mail address by going to TORMail.org via your TOR browser via your fresh DarkNet VPS install.
  19. Configure your IceDove with enigmail install and email PGP key by going to (Applications>Internet>IceDove Mail/News>OpenPGP>Setup Wizard). Then follow the default choices choosing the key we previously created if applicable.
  20. Configure Pidgin and add instant messenger accounts as needed. Next you will need to enable OTR inside Pidgin by going to (Tools>Plugins) and checking the ‘Off-The-Record’ box. Then click configure plugin and choose an Instant Messenger account and clicking Generate. In addition to the default settings in the ‘Default OTR Settings’ section you should check the ‘Don’t log OTR conversations’  box and hit close. You should repeat key generation process as needed for each account.

Optional Installs:

  1. Install I2P
  2. Install Teamviewer

Extras:

  1. Entropy
    • To add more entropy in order to speed up pgp key creation when using 4096 or higher you can install rng-tools
    • Run ‘sudo apt-get install rng-tools’ (drop sudo if in root terminal)
    • Then, edit the file /etc/default/rng-tools and add this to the bottom of the file ‘HRNGDEVICE=/dev/urandom’
    • Restart rng-tools: ‘sudo /etc/init.d/rng-tools restart’ (drop sudo if in root terminal)
    • When finished generating keys you can stop rng-tools: ‘sudo /etc/init.d/rng-tools stop’ (drop sudo if in root terminal)

    If for some reason you cannot reach your VPS via the nxclient or vnc your VPS may have rebooted. If this has happened you will need to enter the preboot encryption password via the VNC located in your Client Control panel and the retry nxclient or vnc login.

If upon boot it wont let you start vidalia bundle cause it says its already running just use the root teminal and do ‘killall -9 tor vidalia’ and then start vidalia again and your all set 🙂

Your All Setup. Now What?

Well that is the fun part! Go forth young one and discover… Like we have said before travel and tread carefully. Just because you are anonymous does not mean you should be as stupid as a freshman at their first college party, besides cleaning the puke off your keyboard would suck right? All kidding aside here are a couple of safe places to start:

  • Hidden Wiki : kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
  • TOR Directory Link List : dppmfxaacucguzpc.onion

Thanks you for following us on this journey.

Be Responsible; Be Careful; Most of all Be Free.

 

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