Darknets (Private Internet & File Sharing)

(Freenet / WASTE / Onionland / I2P / anoNet Darknets)

Well, if you’ve come this far, you can see that we’re treading into some pretty deep water when it comes to Internet security and P2P file sharing - perhaps even considered borderline paranoia. As the saying goes, “You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you”. For many zealots, this is the only way files should be shared.

Darknets (& Private F2F Networks)

What are Darknets


A darknet is a private virtual network where users connect only to people they trust, or they connect to other unknown anonymous peers under cloaked conditions. Many F2F networks are classified as Darknets, even if they aren’t self-described as such. Two examples are WASTE and Freenet. Even RetroShare and CSpace are considered darknets.

One thing is certain about darknets: They are anonymous and uncensored. And they are also unpoliced - this is not a metaphor or a figure of speech. Real-world cops can access a darknet, but there is nothing any policing agency in the world can do about it.

Dictionary definition of ‘Darknet’: The collection of software and servers used to distribute music, videos and other copyrighted material illegally.

While this is partly true in defining what a Darknet does, by no means are Limewire, Usenet or BitTorrent considered darknets. In fact, they are considered Lightnets. Darknets are usually F2F (friend-to-friend) oriented, usually built on camaraderie. Most true darknets are next to impossible to find, but here are some examples of known popular darknets, and how to get started.


Freenet v0.7 (FProxy/F2F/Darknet)


**What is it

?** Freenet is a large-scale, distributed data-store designed to be highly censorship resilient. Inserting and retrieving data from Freenet is designed to be anonymous too. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible to detect communication over Freenet, and virtually impossible to prove it. The Freenet website describes it as:

Freenet is free software which lets you publish and obtain information on the Internet without fear of censorship. To achieve this freedom, the network is entirely decentralized and publishers and consumers of information are anonymous. Without anonymity there can never be true freedom of speech, and without decentralization the network will be vulnerable to attack. Communications by Freenet nodes are encrypted and are ‘routed-through’ other nodes to make it extremely difficult to determine who is requesting the information and what its content is. Users contribute to the network by giving bandwidth and a portion of their hard drive (called the “data store”) for storing files. Unlike other peer-to-peer file sharing networks, Freenet does not let the user control what is stored in the data store. Instead, files are kept or deleted depending on how popular they are, with the least popular being discarded to make way for newer or more popular content. Files in the data store are encrypted to reduce the likelihood of prosecution by persons wishing to censor Freenet content.”


:** Freenet offers total anonymity within its own community. (External links to the rest of the Internet are not within the secure parameters of Freenet, like any darknet.) All communication is essentially anonymous, as are file transfers, forums, chats etc. However, Freenet is not distinctly known as a P2P file sharing medium (mind you, once you get into the thick of things, the P2P implications soon become very apparent).

**Freenet Options

:** There are two options to use Freenet. The newer version 0.7 is more secure as it basically only allows users to connect to other known users (or nodes), with a few exceptions being ‘public’ ones. Here’s a quote from the Freenet wiki:

“Freenet 0.7 works slightly differently to older versions of Freenet. Instead of being automatically connected to other people running Freenet based on a centralized list, you have to manually add people you trust to your Connections list. This is known as a DarkNet, and it makes it more difficult for an adversary to compromise anonymity of the network.”

Some users have adamantly held sway with the 0.5 version, and refuse to upgrade the newer version - v0.5 is becoming harder to find on the Freenet website, but here’s a link to an unofficial page that hosts it.

**Our comments

:** We particularly like Freenet. It’s been around forever, and it still thrives. While it doesn’t boast the same download speeds as other protocols such as BitTorrent, nor does it even come close to the diversity of available shared files - it has a great community atmosphere to it that grows on you. Perhaps it’ll be the last one standing after the MPAA and RIAA get through all those Bit sites and shut down every last P2P file sharing network - who knows?


:** Download Freenet 0.7 here. Choose either the ‘freenet webinstall’ (13MB) or the 3MB link below it (if you know you have Java [JRE] already installed). The safest option is the ‘webinstall’ if you don’t know. Either way, run the *.EXE after downloading to begin the installation. (It’s also available on the SourceForge page.)

NOTE: Internet Explorer is not recommended for use with Freenet (or any darknet, really!). If you have Firefox (as well as IE) then use your Firefox browser to visit the above download link (with IE closed). Additionally, use Firefox whenever logging in to Freenet in the future.

1. Select your language - English is the default

2. Select the default settings (see below):

[Click to enlarge the MUTE
screenshot](/anonymous/freenet1.gif “The MUTE Search window.”){: rel=”lytebox”}

After installation, your browser will be launched to the ‘web installation‘ portion of the setup. For this example, we chose the “First Time Wizard” installation option. At some point you’ll have to create a ‘nickname’ for your Freenet node.

3. Click on the ‘First Time Wizard’ link. This will open a new webpage.

4. Select the ‘Click here to continue’ link.

[Click to enlarge Freenet 'Installation Successful'
screen](/anonymous/freenet2.gif “Freenet ‘Installation Successful’ screen.”){: rel=”lytebox”}Starting the
Freenet 'First Time

5. Select an option for connectivity (YES or NO). This will now log you into your Freenet page (see screenshot - right). It’s from here where connections are made to freesites (Freenet-hosted pages) and links/tutorials are to be found. Browse around! All is secure!!

[Click to enlarge Freenet 'Installation Successful'
screen](/anonymous/freenet4.gif “Freenet ‘Installation Successful’ screen.”){: rel=”lytebox”}Starting the
Freenet 'First Time

You can launch Freenet from your Start Menu > Programs:

Launching Freenet from your Start Button



Check out “Frost” for Freenet. This is where most of the ‘public’ Freenet downloading / uploading is performed.

Frost is a Freenet client that provides newsgroup-like messaging, private encrypted messages, file upload and download functionality and a file sharing system. It’s anonymous, and yet has a very personal atmosphere.

Frost comes pre-installed with Freenet 0.7, and can be found in your Start Menu > The Free Network Project > Frost. Make sure to select the proper version of Frost (see below).

Launching 'Frost' from your Start Button

Frost - Selecting the proper version of

A look at the ‘Frost’ interface:

Frost - the program
interfaceSearching for files
within Frost

Additional help for Frost can be located at their website.

WASTE (F2F/P2P Network/Darknet)


**What is WASTE


WASTE is a mesh-based protocol that allows for encrypted, private communication between distant parties on the Internet, independant of local network organization. It is both anonymous and secure, with fully encrypted file transferring, enabling secure distributed communication for small (usually 10-50 nodes) trusted groups of users. WASTE is NOT a P2P search program, although there are thousands of users, most don’t connect directly with each other.

Here’s the sourceforge download link, and this link is to the official homepage of WASTE.



Download WASTE from the sourceforge site. The file for Windows OS is called “waste-setup-1.5-beta-3-full-eng.exe”. Run the installation file, and follow instructions. You’ll need to provide a nickname/Real Name. On the next screen, just bypass the part about KEYS, you can do this later.

[WASTE - Setup Screen
1](/anonymous/waste1.gif “WASTE - Setup screen 1 - adding a username.”){: rel=”lytebox”}[WASTE - Setup Screen
1](/anonymous/waste2.gif “WASTE - Setup Screen 2.”){: rel=”lytebox”}

After installation, run WASTE. You’ll be needing some KEYS in order to have others to connect to (or it’ll get pretty lonely). Do a query in your favorite search engine for ‘Waste Public Keys’. Or, visit this website (and here) and scroll all the way to the bottom where the most recent keys are. You’ll need to copy the entire key into WASTE, as explained inside the screenshots below:

[Finding Public Keys for
WASTE](/anonymous/waste3.gif “Finding Public Keys for WASTE.”){: rel=”lytebox”}Importing the Keys into
WASTE - Part 1[Importing
the Keys into WASTE - Part
2](/anonymous/waste5.gif “Importing the Keys into WASTE (Part 2).”){: rel=”lytebox”}

And here’s a video of how to set up WASTE. Other WASTE side projects include:

  • J-WASTE - A platform independent client/server Java implementation of the WASTE protocol.
  • jWASTE - jWaste is a Java based implementation of the WASTE-Protocol.
  • SWaste - SWaste is F2F software to transfer data anonymously and securely.
  • Waste.NET - Waste.NET is a complete rewrite of WASTE (using the .NET framework).
  • Waste Junk MOD - A modified version of Waste. Waste Junk Mod will be an improved client for the same network.
  • modWASTE - An extension of the WASTE project. (project discontinued?)
  • WASTE again - A fork of WASTE beta 3 starting form beta 3. (currently still being developed)
  • P.A.S.T.E. - A modded version of WASTE (project discontinued?).

Onionland (The ‘Tor’ Community/Darknet)


Onionland, as you might have guessed, is comprised of all the anonymous websites in the Tor network. Fittingly enough, they all end in .onion (similar to .com or .net domains - except .onion sites aren’t part of a domain at all - just hashes of a private key). Onionland isn’t the official name of the Tor community - do a search for it on Google and not much about anything comes up - it’s more of an unspoken term for the entire .onion network.

Accessing onionland.

Tor needs to be installed first (and privoxy). The newest installation bundle will automatically configure the browser (Firefox is recommended) to use the correct proxy settings to connect to Tor - just click the “Tor Disabled” button to enable it.

Navigating blindly through the Tor network can be daunting (even downright frustrating) if you seek something specific. There are aptly named hidden services and hidden wikis that are near impossible to accidentally run into.

Here’s a few starting places that should give you enough links to get going. (Provided that they aren’t down or moved by the time you are reading this). To visit these Tor sites, don’t forget that you must have Tor and Privoxy installed (and running), and are using a Tor-configured browser with Tor enabled.

ApeWiki - HiddenServices — A good place to find some working links:


Click to enlarge
'onionforum'onionforum - a forum for users of Tor:


core.onion - A long list of Tor sites:


And a last note - Don’t expect blazing speeds. Be patient when waiting for a Tor page to load - the data has to go through encryption layers and relays. People using Tor in their P2P programs aren’t helping things, either.

I2P (Darknet / ‘I2P’ Community)


I2P is much more than just a method to surf the ‘Net anonymously. It is its own community, much like Tor (onionland). Sites within the I2P network are called eepsites, and use the .i2p domain. Eepsites are secure and anonymous.

To access these eepsites, I2P must be installed (and running) first, with it properly configured through a web browser (Firefox is best). See [here](../../14/internet-tunneling-traffic-routing/#i2p “I2P Installation & Configuration”) for installation / launch procedures.

Eepsites - starting points.

Launch Firefox to your ‘I2P Router’ page, which is http://localhost:7657/index.jsp. Wait for some ‘peer’ connections on the left, and then you can begin to browse some of the links listed there. NOTE: Don’t bother to click on Orion.i2p - it’s permanently down. Here are some other good eepsites:

http://forum.i2p/ - Forums for all things I2P (iMule, I2Phex, Susimail)

http://eepsites.i2p/ - Search for eepsites and browse the latest searches.

http://ugha.i2p/ - The I2P Wiki (for good links, starting points, etc.)

[Ugha.i2p - The I2P
Wiki](/anonymous/i2p_4.gif “Ugha.i2p - The I2P Wiki.”){: rel=”lytebox”}

Increase your speeds on I2P.

You can check out the links above (especially the forums) in regards to increasing your speed. But there’s two things we can tell you right now that’ll help.

First, wait for the ‘peers’ list to increase to over 50 (see below):

Checking for I2P peers

1. Here’s a tweak that you must do if you have a fast Internet connection (DSL/Cable). From the main I2P Router page (your default page - see image above), click the “Configuration” link:

I2P Configuration link

This will open your configuration page (below). Change your ‘Inbound’ and ‘Outbound’ speeds as shown below:

I2P Configuration

2. Another tip to increase speeds (but this cuts down on anonymity), is to change your ‘Hops’ settings. This is done in the “Local Destinations” settings (see below). *We changed this number to zero, and I2P became extremely fast! How much that affects the anonymity, we don’t know. We can say with earnest - quite probably. Check the forums and FAQs for I2P for additional info.

I2P Configuration

A note about running Tor and I2P at the same time:

Not that you’ll ever really need to do this, but it is possible to run both Tor and I2P at the same time, however, they both can’t be used in the same instance of a web browser simultaneously. This being since they both require different ports to access the networks, with Tor requiring localhost: 8118 while I2P uses localhost: 4444. A workaround for this would be to open another ‘window’ of Firefox, one using 8118 (while enabling Tor), the other 4444 (with Tor disabled). Similarly, if you wish to use both Tor and I2P at different times (and you use just one Firefox), you’ll need to change the proxy settings back and forth as well. This is because turning off the Torbutton doesn’t default the browser to the I2P proxy settings, but to the ‘direct connection to the Internet’ instead.

  1. sonny vasquez Says:

    thanks for the information we have just read,it educate me about the issue and i will no longer be ignorant,in fact i am so interested to join a group of this kind to share also with ideas….

  2. Nate Says: are a great darknet service I only pay €5 for unlimited bandwidth.

  3. d4m4s74 Says:

    On using tor and i2p at the same time, download foxyproxy (for firefox)
    then connect *.i2p/* to proxy localhost:4444 and *.onion/* to localhost:8118
    then every url will go to your own connection, .i2p goes to i2p and onion goes through tor

  4. Justin Says:

    What is safer than private p2p file sharing? Check Fast encrypted transfers only with your trusted contacts.

  5. yama Says:

    help this website didn’t help me i want to make my own darknet with my friends
    so it would be appreciated if someone could help me out

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  7. - Says:

    “*.i2p/* to proxy localhost:4444 and *.onion/* to localhost:8118″
    Hmm, I know nothing about i2p, but Tor will go to any browser webpage, not just .onion/
    Therefore I wonder why you can’t chain those localhost:ports? much like browser( > Proxomitron( > Privoxy( > Tor > TorNode
    browser( > Proxomitron( > Privoxy( > Tor( > i2p > ???
    browser( > Proxomitron( > Privoxy( > i2p( > Tor > TorNode???