The Dark Web Dictionary: Definitions for Everything Dark Net

dark web dictionary

The dark web is full of specialized jargon and technical talk. Lots of people active on the dark web use abbreviations that are unclear to newcomers. That’s why a short summary of regularly-used terms can come in handy. If you want to know more you can read our article about the dark web or our guide that tells you how to get there. Moreover, we have a list of  websites on the dark web you might find worth visiting.


2FA is short for two-factor-authentication. This is a more eleborate way to secure an account. Rather than relying solely on your password, with 2FA you have to identify yourself a second time to gain access to your account. Often this works with a code that is send to your smartphone. This method makes it harder for criminals to hack your account.


Alphabay was the biggest dark web market after the shutdown of the original Silk Road. When Silk Road was shut down, most buyers flocked to Alphabay. However, after a few years, Alphabay was also taken down by law enforcement.


Blockchain is the underlying technology for Bitcoin. It functions as a public ledger to ensure compliance across its users. It theoretically eliminates the need for private banks.


A botnet is a network of devices that have been infected with a virus. Because of this the hacker can operate all these infected devices at the same time. These networks can be used in DDoS attacks and are sometimes sold on the dark web.


Bridges are nodes that you can use to access the Tor network even though this network is banned by your country. A bridge will make it appear as though you are entering the network from a different location. Because of this, local restrictions do no longer apply. Some people also use it as a way to prevent their ISP from knowing they accessed the Tor network. Because the amount of bridges is limited, it is frowned upon to use them for frivolous reasons. Especially because people in some countries need this type of program to gain online freedom.


BTC is the acronym given to Bitcoins. It is still the most widely-used and popular cryptocurrency.


Simply put, the clearnet is everything you can find on the internet via a search engine such as Google. These are all the websites which are publicly available and do not require any kind of registration or log-in credentials. However, this does not mean that websites that require a log-in are necessarily not part of the clearnet.


CP is short for Child Pornography. Unfortunately, the dark web contains a number of pedophile networks through which their members are able to exchange illicit materials. It is an ongoing process for law enforcement all over the world to try and take such networks down. Even hacktivists such as the group Anonymous have undertaken actions against this type of behavior. Alas, the problem still exists. Occasionally, perpetrators are arrested and convicted. However, the vast majority of these communities persist.


The darknet is a synonym for the dark web. Although some opinions about the definition vary, the two terms are mostly used interchangeably.

Hidden Wiki

The Hidden Wiki is a well-known dark web page. At first glance it looks a lot like Wikipedia. However, on the Hidden Wiki you find links to dark web pages that have been grouped in different categories. This helps people to navigate the dark web. If you  find yourself on the Hidden Wiki you should really watch out you do not click a link to something that you wouldn’t want to see.


HS is short for ‘Hidden Services’. These are services found on the dark web that are hidden because they do not track the IP address of its users nor does it broadcast its own IP address. Communication is allowed, yet all of the channels are obscured.


LEA and LE are short for ‘Law Enforcement Agencies/Law Enforcement’. These acronyms are used in chatrooms by those who wish to stay out of their hands. Law enforcement agencies are present and active on dark markets and try to catch criminals red-handed. Know your rights and do not do anything illegal. There is nothing illegal about researching the dark web or browsing the dark web.

Mystery Boxes

The dark web mystery boxes were a craze on YouTube. The YouTubers acted like they ordered mystery boxes on the dark web and opened these on camera. While these videos can seem very creepy and thrilling, they are most likely completely fake.


.Onion is the dark web version of .com. It is the domain suffix most commonly used on the dark web. It got its name from The Onion Router (Tor). The Tor browser is used to access the dark web.

OS (Live or Host)

OS is short for Operating System. A live OS might be an OS that is temporarily loaded from software such as VirtualBox. A Host OS is the operating system from which you are running the computer, i.e. Windows or MacOS.


PGP is short for ‘Pretty Good Privacy’. This is a cryptographic method that is used by hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis to communicate anonymously and safely.

Red Rooms

Red Rooms are a common myth of the Dark Web. Many people claim that certain types of websites exist where a number of people pay a fee to gain access to a live stream where they can see someone being tortured. Thankfully, there have never been any reports of red rooms that were actually legitimate.

Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto is most likely a pseudonym for the creator and architect of Bitcoin. However, it is possible and more plausible that multiple people collaborated to create bitcoin.

Silk Road

Silk Road was the original ‘success story’ of the dark web. A young man set up a completely free-market economy for people to compete in. It was shut down in 2013 and was mostly known for being a marketplace for drugs and weapons.


Tails stands for “The Amnesiac Incognito Live System” and is an OS that you can load from a USB drive in order to anonymously browse the dark web. No information about your activities will be stored on the computer once you exit the system.


Tor is short for The Onion Router. This is the protocol that allows you to visit the dark web. The Tor browser is the most-used browser to visit the dark web.


A vendor is a person that tries to sell goods or services on the dark web on a particular market.


VPN is short for a virtual private network. A VPN is used to encrypt your data and protect your online privacy.


A whistleblower is someone who exposes the wrongdoings of a company or organization to the world. Often they got this inside information because they work for the organization in question. Whistleblowers usually want to remain anonymous because otherwise they will be fired or sued for sharing the secret information. For this reason, many whistleblowers use the dark web to get into contact with journalists anonymously

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. Since 2019 she is's cybersecurity news coordinator.