Come to the Darknet

Michael Vizard

For better are worse, it's going to become a lot easier to set up private networks for sharing files.

According to Hewlett-Packard security researchers, one of the downstream effects of transforming the browser into a platform is that applications run inside the browser. And with the advent of HTML 5, advanced JavaScript engines and systems powerful enough to deal with the overhead of encryption, there is now a very distinct possibility that we might begin to see a lot more peer-to-peer private networks, otherwise known as darknets, springing up both inside and outside the enterprise.


Those darknets, depending on the application, could be a very good thing or a very bad thing. For instance, darknets might pose a challenge for law-enforcement organizations. They also will challenge internal IT departments. After all, if it becomes a lot simpler to set up a darknet, a lot of employees are not going to wait around for IT to set up an approved collaboration platform.

Of course, a lot of people are using various public services such as GoogleApps for collaboration. Darknets, at least, would be a more secure alternative to transferring unencrypted files over the public Internet.

The anticipated proliferation of darknets could create something of a nightmare scenario for the chief compliance officer, but for the average working IT stiff, they could be a boon. If end users can easily set up their own secure networks, that less time the IT staff has to spend managing collaboration software and the servers on which they run.

At the moment, darknets are an arcane form of networking that has been around for more than 10 years. Historically, they have been difficult to set up. But as the barriers to creating a darknet start to drop, you can't help but wonder what might happen next.

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