Dark Internet is a term used to describe that portion of the total Internet site population that cannot be accessed through conventional search methods. Also known as dark address space, the phenomenon affects a substantial number of websites, rendering them unable to connect globally. There are a variety of causes of this phenomenon that include overzealous traffic filtering, incorrect configuration, and the use of archaic Milnet addresses by military sites. This situation has obvious negative implications for the sites or potential users, but may also have a more sinister effect on the rest of the Internet community due to malicious use of dark address space. This threat arises from the characteristic lack of connectivity between mainstream Internet users and the dark Internet, allowing hackers to hijack unreachable networks for use as launch platforms for their illegal activities.
The Internet community is a cyber-presence group of staggering proportions. It is widely accepted by many Internet users that the entire community is globally connected and available. This is not the case, though, with a huge number of sites partially or completely cut off from the rest of the web. There are a number of common, known causes of this situation, although the lack of connectivity experienced by many broadband modem users is still a mystery.
One of the most common causes of dark Internet blackouts is over-aggressive traffic filtering instituted by network administrators trying to free up local resources and reduce server loads. Although this certainly achieves its intended purpose, it can, if applied too vigorously, cut the network off either partially or completely. Incorrect configuration is another major cause of networks languishing in dark address space that can be laid at the door of long-suffering administrators. An incorrectly set-up Internet protocol (IP) address can place single users or, in the case of routers, entire networks firmly in the unreachable nether regions of the dark Internet. A third group of heavyweight contributors to the dark address space phenomenon are the large number of military sites still occupying ancient Milnet address blocks, some dating back to the Arpanet.
The dark Internet obviously has a negative effect on its victims and their potential users or clients due to the absence of connectivity. It does, however, have another even darker side to it as a potential springboard for malicious distribution of malware, spyware, viruses, and an origin for denial-of-service attacks. The shady, untraceable nature of the dark Internet allows hackers to use its latent cloaking characteristics to carry out their illegal activities with little or no chance of any action being taken against them. Overall, the resolution of the dark address space issue is certainly one of the most pressing calls to action facing the broader Internet community today.