The Dark Web Dictionary: Definitions for Everything Dark Net

Computer with a dictionary on-screen on a table next to a router, magnifier, and the letter A
Click here for a summary of the most important dark web terms
The Dark Web Dictionary - A summary

The dark web has its own jargon. While some terms thrown around are common enough, others are exclusively tied to the dark web. The most common dark web terms include:

  • Blockchain: a system for recording information
  • Bitcoin: the most popular cryptocurrency
  • Carding: the theft and distribution of credit card information
  • Cryptocurrency: a digital currency that can be used anonymously
  • PGP: short for “Pretty Good Privacy”, an encryption method
  • Silk Road: a former marketplace on the dark web
  • VPN: short for “Virtual Private Network”, a tool that can hide your IP and protect your privacy that’s highly recommended for any type of dark web browsing

If you want a more in-depth definition of these terms, and explanations for other dark web terms, read our article below.

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. And that’s why we created this dark web dictionary.

If you want to know more, we’d like to refer you to one of these articles:

You can find our full dark web ABC down below!


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2FA

2FA is short for two-factor authentication. This is a more elaborate 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 sent to your smartphone. This method makes it harder for criminals to hack your account.

If you want to protect your accounts even more, don’t forget to invest in the best password manager.


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Alias

The term alias on the dark web doesn’t differ from the mainstream definition. Alias is a pseudonym: an assumed identity for users of the dark web.  Since anonymity is important for users of the dark web, most of them opt to use an alias.

Alphabay

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.


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Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the original, and the most popular cryptocurrency. It’s often used on the dark web to finalize transactions, because Bitcoin payments can be completely anonymous.

Black Market

A black market is an illegal traffic or trade platform. Products on the black market are usually illegal, or controlled substances. The dark web is a huge medium for black markets of all kinds.

Blockchain

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.

Botnet

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

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

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


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Carding

Carding refers to the theft and sale of credit card information. It’s a common practice on the dark web, and closely related to phishing, which is how hackers usually gain access to personal information.

Clearnet

Simply put, the “clearnet” is everything you can find on the internet via a search engine such as Google. These are all the websites that 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

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.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that can be used anonymously. It’s based on a binary data design, and it allows transactions to take place in a decentralized, transparent method. The most popular cryptocurrency (which is the default currency on the dark web) is Bitcoin, although there are various alternatives as well.


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Darknet

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

DD (Delivery Days)

DD is a common term used on the darknet to refer to the number of delivery days you can expect for a product shipment. In context, it can look something like “10DD Europe”, which means that a product delivery to Europe will take about 10 days.

Deep Web

The deep web is every page on the internet that’s not indexed by a search engine. This includes things like the dark web (which is intentionally hidden), as well as member platforms, repositories, or de-indexed sites.

Doxing

Doxing (which is short for “dropping dox”) is an online attack in which previously private information about an individual or organization is made public. This is usually accomplished through hacking, social engineering, or regular research.


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Encryption

Encryption is the conversion of data into an obfuscated code to prevent unauthorized access. These methods also include a “key” that can decrypt the protected information. If you’d like to learn more about how encryption works and which different kinds of encryption there are, you can read our article “Encryption: What Is It and How Does It Work?“.

Escrow

An escrow is a third party that facilitates a transaction by holding onto funds until a condition has been met (like the fulfillment of a purchase agreement). Online marketplaces can act as escrows to facilitate transactions.

Exit Scam

An exit scam is when a vendor or administrator illegally takes users’ funds prior to their exit. It is most commonly done by cryptocurrency promoters who vanish with investors’ money during or after an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).


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FE (Finalizing Early)

Finalizing Early, or FE, refers to completing a transaction without the help of an escrow. It’s most commonly used in dark web transactions, although it does cover a wide variety of electronic commerce.

Freenet

Freenet is an anonymous peer-to-peer service to host and publish sites or pages. Access to the platforms hosted by Freenet is only possible through a special app, similar to how Tor operates.


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Grams

In the context of the dark web, “Grams” refers to a search engine. It indexes Tor websites and marketplaces, which makes it a great resource to find sites on the darknet.


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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 can 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.

Honeypot

Honeypot is a deceptive measure to trick hackers into exposing themselves. Cybersecurity experts will set up an enticing set of data for hackers to try and obtain (the Honeypot) and then use their efforts to either apprehend them or set up better security measures.

HS

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.


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LEA/LE

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. If you find yourself in these chatrooms, make sure to know your rights and don’t do anything illegal. There is nothing illegal about researching the dark web or browsing the dark web, but if you go beyond that, you might just find LE on your doorstep.


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Malware

Malware is an abbreviation for “Malicious Software”. This type of software is generally used to disrupt device operations, gather sensitive personal information, or display unwanted advertising. If you want to find out more about how to protect yourself from malware, read our articles on computer viruses and Trojans.

Mystery Boxes

The dark web mystery boxes were a craze on YouTube. Popular 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.


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.Onion

.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.


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PGP

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.


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Red Room

A Red Room (dark web) is 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.


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Sandbox

Sandboxing is a very common practice to navigate the web safely. A sandbox will open URLs in a safe test environment, so if they’re potentially harmful, your computer remains unaffected. On the dark web, sandboxing is even more helpful. If you open a link that tries to infect your computer, you just have to close the sandbox windows, and you’re safe. Sandboxie is an example of good sandbox software.

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, even if they only use one name to refer to them as a collective.

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.


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Tails

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

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. It encrypts your data and sends it through different “nodes” so you become more anonymous on the internet.


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Vendor

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

VPN

VPN is short for a virtual private network. A VPN is used to encrypt your data and protect your online privacy. To do this, VPN software routes your internet traffic through servers in different countries, changing your IP in the process. If you’re not sure which to pick, check our roundup of the best VPNs.


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Whistleblower

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 secret information. For this reason, many whistleblowers use the dark web to get into contact with journalists anonymously

The Dark Web Dictionary: Frequently Asked Questions

If you want more details on a particular darknet term that gets thrown around a lot, check our FAQ section below!

On the darknet, DD stands for “Delivery Days”. It’s a metric of how many days it takes for a product to reach a particular destination.

“DD” has plenty of other meanings as an acronym. For example, there’s “Due Diligence”, which means thorough research, especially before a purchase. But on the dark web, it most likely refers to delivery days.

If you want to understand more terms related to the dark web, don’t forget to check our dark web dictionary.

The dark web is a collection of internet pages that aren’t indexed by search engines, and are only accessible through special software like the Tor browser. It’s used to keep internet activity more anonymous and private. This is a great thing for journalists, whistleblowers, and any other people that want to share information completely anonymously. But it’s also become a hotspot for different types of criminals.

If you’re not familiar with the dark web, you can find out more about it in our article “What is the dark web?”.

Silk Road was one of the most famous marketplaces on the dark web, earning the nickname “The eBay of Vice”. It was shut down in 2013 when its presumed owner (Ross Ulbricht) was apprehended in San Francisco. While numerous Silk Road marketplaces appeared after this original one was shut down, none of them rose to the same level of prominence.

The deep web is a collection of pages on the internet that’s not indexed by a traditional search engine. This includes things like member platforms, repositories, or de-indexed sites. The dark web is a subset of this deep web, and it’s intentionally hidden to facilitate a variety of activities that require the complete anonymity possible in this part of the internet.

Blockchain is a public ledger that ensures compliance across its users. Thanks to how the information is stored on the blockchain, it’s impossible for data to be altered or hacked. Since blockchain technology is the basis for cryptocurrencies, it theoretically eliminates the need for private banks.

Author
Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.
Author
Tech writer
Theodor is a content writer passionate about the newest tech developments and content marketing strategies. He likes privacy-friendly software, SEO tools, and when he's not writing, he's trying to convince people they should uninstall TikTok.