Although both the deep web and dark web are the hidden sections of the internet, they are not synonymous and should not be confused with each other

The terms ‘dark web’ and ‘deep web’ are often interchangeably used to describe the section of the internet that is home to criminal activities. To understand the difference between the dark web and the deep web, we must understand the different layers of the internet, as detailed below.

Surface web: The first layer of the World Wide Web is the surface web, which is also known as the visible web or the clear web. It comprises websites that are indexed by common search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and so on. These websites are available for public access without requiring permissions. It is believed that the surface web constitutes only 3-4% of the entire World Wide Web; however, according to Wikipedia, the figure stands at 10%. This means the millions of search results conducted every second are but a minuscule percentage of the overall internet!

Deep web: A step further below the surface web is the deep web. The deep web is estimated to be nearly 500 times the size of the surface web or 90% of the entire internet. This section of the internet comprises websites and data that are not indexed. They are protected from search engines and crawlers by way of encryption.

Any data behind a firewall, be it data servers, organizational intranets, or archives, belong to the deep web. A website in the deep web would require you to enter your unique username and password combination to access. Probably, the simplest examples of a website in the deep web can be web-based email, social media platform, online banking, or web-based subscription service. That brings us to the question – whether the deep web is illegal to foray into? The answer is No.

Dark web: The deepest layer of the World Wide Web is called the dark web. Although a part of the deep web, dark web goes further deep. It is a subset of the deep web and the key difference between the two is that the deep web can be home to both good and bad data, whereas the dark web is mostly illicit.

As per some estimates, the dark web probably constitutes only 0.1% of the entire internet but is the hotbed for many illegal activities. The dark web can be termed the underbelly of the internet, as it facilitates crimes such as sale/purchase of stolen data, fake identity proofs, porn, drug trafficking, contract killers, sale of arms and ammunition, and so forth.

It is the infamous part of the internet where data is intentionally hidden and criminal activities are rampant. It requires special software – such as The Onion Browser (Tor), Freenet, or I2P (Invisible Internet Project) – to access the dark web. This is because the dark web can be accessed only by anonymous users, which common browsers do not allow. Common browsers track the IP address of the users and hence enable identification of the user – something which is undesirable in the dark web.

Access to the dark web is not illegal but is fraught with numerous risks. Therefore, it is recommended to stay away from the dark web, as it can be highly dangerous.

[Source: This article was published in dqindia.com By Neetu Katyal - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

Categorized in Deep Web

At the beginning of August 2019, a young white man entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and opened fire with an AK-47-style rifle ordered online, killing 22 people and injuring 25 more. Less than an hour after the shooting was reported, internet researchers found an anti-immigrant essay uploaded to the anonymous online message board 8chan. Law enforcement officials later said that before the shooter opened fire, they were investigating the document, which was posted minutes before the first calls to 911. The essay posted on 8chan included a request: “Do your part and spread this brothers!”

That was the third time in 2019 that a gunman posted a document on 8chan about his intent to commit a mass shooting. All three of the pieces of writing from shooters posted online that year were loaded with white supremacist beliefs and instructions to share their message or any video of the shooting far and wide. The year prior, a man who entered into a synagogue outside of Pittsburgh and opened fire was an active member of online forums popular amongst communities of hate, where he, too, signaled his intent to commit violence before he killed. In 2017, the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was largely organized in online forums, too. And so it makes sense that in recent years newsrooms are dedicating more reporters to covering how hate spreads over the internet.

Online hate is not an easy beat.  First off, there’s the psychological toll of spending hours in chat rooms and message boards where members talk admiringly about the desire to harm and even kill others based on their race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. Monitoring these spaces can leave a reporter feeling ill, alienated and fearful of becoming desensitized. Secondly, some who congregate in online communities of hate are experts at coordinating attacks and promoting violence against those who they disagree with, including activists and journalists who write about them. Such harassment occurs both online and offline and can happen long after a report is published.

Consider a case from my own experience, where my reporting triggered a harassment campaign. In February 2019, I published an investigation of an e-commerce operation that Gavin McInnes, founder of the far-right men’s group the Proud Boys, whose members have been charged with multiple counts of violence, described as the group’s legal defense fund. During the course of my reporting, multiple payment processors used by the e-commerce site pulled their services. In the days after the article published, I received some harassment on Twitter, but it quickly petered out. That changed in June, after the host of a popular channel on YouTube and far-right-adjacent blogger Tim Pool made a 25-minute video about my story, accusing me of being a “left-wing media activist.” The video has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Within minutes of Pool’s video going live, the harassment began again. A dozen tweets and emails per-minute lit up my phone — some included physical threats and anti-Semitic attacks directed at my family and myself. A slew of fringe-right websites, including Infowars, created segments and blog posts about Pool’s video. I received requests to reset my passwords, likely from trolls attempting to hack into my accounts. Users of the anonymous message board 4chan and anonymous Twitter accounts began posting information directing people to find where I live.

What follows is general safety advice for newsrooms and journalists who report on hate groups and the platforms where they congregate online.

Securing yourself before and during reporting

Maintain a strong security posture in the course of your research and reporting in order to prevent potential harassers from finding your personal details. Much of the advice here on how to do that is drawn from security trainers at Equality Labs and Tall Poppy, two organizations that specialize in security in the face of online harassment and threats, as well as my own experience on the beat. It also includes resources that can help newsrooms support and protect reporters who are covering the online hate beat.

1.  Download and begin using a secure password manager. A password manager is an app that stores all your passwords, which helps with keeping and creating complex and distinct passwords for each account. With your password manager change or reset all your passwords to ensure you’re not using the same password across sites and that each password is tough to crack. You probably have more online accounts than you realize, so it might help to make a list. When updating passwords, opt for a two-factor authentication method when available. Use a two-factor authentication app, like Google Authenticator or Duo, rather than text messages, since unencrypted text messages can easily be compromised. 1Password is the password manager of choice for the experts both at Tall Poppy and Equality Labs.

2.  Search for your name on online directory and data broker sites like White Pages and Spokeo, which collect addresses and contact information that can be sold to online marketers, and request your entries be removed. Online harassment campaigns often start with a search of these sites to find their target’s home address, phone number and email. Many data broker sites make partial entries visible, so it’s possible to see if your information is listed. If it is, find the site’s instructions for requesting removal of your entry and follow the directions. Do the same for people who you live with, especially if they share your last name. There are also services that can thoroughly scrub your identifying information from dozens of online directories across the web for you, like Privacy Duck, Deleteme and OneRep.

3. Make aliases. If you have to create an account to use a social media site you’re researching, consider using an alternate email address that you delete or stop using after the course of reporting. Newsroom practices vary, so if your username must reveal who you are per your employer’s policy, check with your editor about using your initials or not spelling out your publication in your username. It’s easy to make a free email address using Gmail or Hotmail. ProtonMail also offers free end-to-end encrypted email addresses.

4. Record your interactions with sources, as they may be recording their interactions with you. Assume every interaction you have is not only being recorded but might also be edited in an attempt to harass you or undercut your work. During one story I worked on about a hate-friendly social network, an employee of the website I interviewed recorded the interview, too. The founder of the site wasn’t happy with my report and proceeded to make a Periscope video of him attempting to discredit the story by replaying my interview, courting thousands of views. If you’re at a rally, bring spare batteries and ensure you have enough space on your phone to record your interactions or have a colleague with you so you can record each other’s interactions, which help if you need evidence to discredit attempts to discredit you. Importantly, before you record any interview, check if the state you’re reporting from has a two-party consent law, which requires that both parties on the call consent to being recorded and may require you to alert your interviewee that you’re recording the call.

5. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to visit the sites you’re investigating. VPNs hide where web traffic comes from. If you’re researching a website and visiting it frequently, your IP address, location or other identifying information could tip off the site’s owners that you’re poking around. Do your research, as some VPN services are more trustworthy than others. Equality Labs recommends using Private Internet Access. Wirecutter also has a good selection of recommended VPNs.

6. Tighten your social media privacy. Make sure all your social media accounts are secured with as little identifying information public as possible. Do a scan of who is following you on your personal accounts and ensure that there isn’t identifying information about where you live posted in any public place or shared with people who may compromise your safety. Consider unfriending your family members on social media accounts and explain to them why they cannot indicate their relationship to you publicly online. Likewise, be aware of any public mailing lists you may subscribe to where you may have shared your phone number or address in an email and ask the administrator of the email list to remove those emails from the public archive.

7. Ask your newsroom or editor for support. “Newsrooms have a duty of care to their staff to provide the tools that they need to stay safe,” says Leigh Honeywell, the CEO of Tall Poppy. Those tools may include paying for services that remove your information from data broker sites and a high-quality password manager. If your personal information does begin to circulate online, your newsroom should be prepared to contact social media platforms to report abuse and request the information be taken down. Newsroom leadership could also consider implementing internal policies around how to have their reporters’ backs in situations of online harassment, which could mean, for example, sifting through threats sent on Twitter and having a front desk procedure that warns anyone who answers the phone not to reveal facts such as whether certain reporters work at the office.

After publishing

If you do face harassment and threats online after your report is published, you may want to enlist the help of an organization that specializes in online harassment security. Troll storms usually run about one week, and the deluge on Twitter and over email usually lasts no more than a few days. Take space from the internet during this time and be sure your editors are prepared to help monitor your accounts should you become a target of harassment.  

1. Ask someone to monitor your social media for you. Depending on the severity and cadence of the harassment that follows publication, you may wish to assign a trusted partner, an editor or a friend, to monitor your social media for you. Often the harassment is targeted at journalists via social media accounts. It can be an extremely alienating experience, especially if consumed through a smartphone, because no one fully sees what’s happening except the person targeted. During these moments, it’s best to step away from social media and not watch it unfold. This is often hard to do, because it’s also important to stay aware of incoming threats or attempts to find your home and family. Whoever is monitoring your social media should report accounts that send harassment, threats, obscenities and bigotry.

2. Don’t click on links from unknown senders. If you receive a text message from an unknown number or an email to reset a password, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Likewise, consider only opening emails in plain-text mode to ensure photos and malicious files do not download automatically. Be extra careful about links in text messages, as it’s rare for a password reset to come through a text message and it could be an attempt to verify your phone number by a harasser or to install malware on your phone. If you get suspicious texts or emails, contact whoever you consult for security.

3. Google yourself (or ask someone you trust to Google your name for you). When the harassment begins, someone should be checking social media and anonymous websites, like 4chan, Gab.ai and 8kun, which is how 8chan rebranded in 2019, for mentions of your name, address, phone number and portions of your address. 4chan and Gab.ai have policies against posting personal information, like emails, physical addresses, phone numbers or bank account information — a practice called doxing — and should remove identifying content when requested. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more popular social networks do, too. Also, set a Google alert for your name to see if you’re being blogged about. If you or your newsroom can afford it, consider working with a security expert who knows how to monitor private Discord chat groups, private Facebook groups, 8kun, Telegram and other corners of the internet where harassment campaigns are hatched.

4. Know when to get law enforcement involved. If a current or former address of yours begins to emerge online or if you’re receiving threats of violence, call your local police non-emergency line and let them know that an online troll may misreport an incident in the hopes of sending a team of armed police to your home — a practice known as swatting. Local police might not be accustomed to dealing with online threats or have a swatting protocol, but it’s worth making a call and explaining the situation to ensure that unnecessary force is not deployed if a fraudulent report is made.

5. Save your receipts. Check your email, check your bank account, and don’t delete evidence of harassment. If you receive emails that your passwords for online accounts are being reset, do not click on or download anything. Save all emails related to the harassment, too, as you may wish to refer to them later to see if a pattern emerges. The evidence might also be important if you need to prove to a business or law enforcement that you were the subject of a targeted campaign. Continue to monitor your bank account to ensure that fraudulent charges aren’t made and that your financial information is secure. Unfortunately, hacked credit cards and passwords abound online. You may decide to call your bank after being harassed and ask for a new debit card to be issued.

6. Let other journalists know what you’re going through. Remember, while it’s important to stay physically safe, the emotional toll is real, too. There’s no reason to go through online harassment alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other journalists on your beat at different publications to let them know your situation. Stronger communities make for safer reporting.


[Source: This article was published in journalistsresource.org By April Glaser - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen] 

Categorized in Investigative Research

While public safety measures have started to relax, the surge of malware accompanying the pandemic is still making headlines. As a recent study points out, hackers have created no less than 130 000 new e-mail domains related to Covid-19 to carry out what analysts now call ”fearware” attacks.

A lot of these domains and attacks are tied to the same source: the dark web. From selling vaccines and fake drugs to simply spreading panic, the dark web has been the host of many pandemic-related threats. And these attacks were just the latest addition to the dark web’s regular activity including, but not restricted to botnets, cryptojacking and selling ransomware.

However, to see how threats from the far reaches of the Internet can affect your company or clients, we must delve deeper into the concept of “dark web’’.

In the first part of our article, we try to understand the dark web’s structure and acknowledge its growing importance to cybersecurity teams.

What is the Dark Web?

Simple users or security specialists, most of us spend our time online the same way: tied to a few popular websites and chat clients or perusing pages through a search engine. This activity, mediated by traditional browsers and apps, accounts for an almost endless amount of content.

But, as copious as this content might seem, it’s only a small percentage of what the Internet has to offer – as little as 4%, according to CSO Online. The rest of it? An enormous collection of unindexed websites, private pages, and secluded networks that regular search engines cannot detect, bearing the generic moniker of ‘’deep web’’.

The deep web covers just about anything that’s hidden from the public eye, including exclusive and paid content, private repositories, academic journals, medical records, confidential company data and much more. In a broad sense, even the contents of an e-mail server are part of the deep web.

However, there is a certain part of the deep web that’s noticeably different. How? Well, if the deep web in general is content that can’t be found through conventional means, the dark web is that part of it that does not want to be found.

The dark web exists through private networks that use the Internet as support, but require specific software to be accessed, as well as additional configurations or authorization. While the dark web is only a small part of the deep web, it allegedly still accounts for around 5% of the entire Internet… and for a lot of its malicious activity.

Since the dark web can’t be accessed directly, users need to use special software such as the Tor browser, I2P, or Freenet. Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is perhaps the best-known means of accessing the dark web, as it is used both as a gateway and a security measure (limiting website interactions with the user’s system). While the protocol itself was initially developed by a Navy division before becoming open source, the project is currently administered by an NGO.

I2P (The Invisible Internet Project) specializes in allowing the anonymous creation and hosting of websites through secure protocols, directly contributing to the development of the dark web.

At this point, it’s worth stating that many dark web sites are not in any way malicious and might just be private for security reasons (journalism websites for countries where censorship is rampant, private chat rooms for people affected by trauma, etc.). It’s also worth noting that platforms such as Tor are not malicious in themselves, with their technology being also used by many legitimate companies. However, the dark web offers two very powerful abilities to its users, both of them ripe for abuse.

These abilities are complete anonymity and untraceability. Unfortunately, their dangers only became visible after Silk Road, probably the world’s largest illegal online market at the time, was closed. A similar ripple was also produced by the closing of the gigantic Alphabay, an even more comprehensive follow-up to Silk Road.

The Dangers of Anonymity

The truth is, dark web sites have been known to sell just about anything from drugs and contraband, guns, subscription credentials, password lists, credit cards to malware of all types, as well as multiple other illegal wares. All without any real control, from website owners or authorities, and all under the guard of encryption. Back in 2015, a study classified the contents of more than 2,700 dark web sites and found that no less than 57% hosted illicit materials!

Obviously, this prompted authorities to take action. Some law enforcement agencies have started monitoring Tor downloads to correlate them with suspicious activity, while others, such as the FBI, established their own fake illegal websites on the dark web to catch wrong-doers.

Even with such measures in place, the dark web’s growth is far from coming to a halt. Its traffic actually increased around the Covid-19 pandemic, and the technology’s 20th anniversary. It is estimated that in 2019 30% of Americans were visiting the dark web regularly, although mostly not for a malicious purpose. Furthermore, as large social networks increase their content filtering and as web monitoring becomes more prevalent on the „surface web”, the dark web is slowly becoming an ideological escape for certain vocal groups.

While these numbers can put things into perspective, many security experts, from both enterprise organizations and MSSPs, might ask: ”Alright, but what does that have to do with my company? Why do I have to monitor the dark web?”

In the second part of our article, you will learn what Dark Web threats are aimed directly at your enterprise, and how an efficient Threat Intelligence solution can keep them at bay.

[Source: This article was published in securityboulevard.com By Andrei Pisau - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]

Categorized in Deep Web

In 2020, phishing is just about the common kinds of cyberattacks on businesses and individuals alike. 56% of IT decision-makers state that phishing attacks will be the top security threat they truly are facing, with 32% of hacks involving phishing. Here is video phishing and how you protect your self.

Phishing is no longer limited to emails from Nigerian princes offering the recipients massive returns on investments.

Many phishing messages and internet sites have become sophisticated to the point that users are no longer in a position to recognize them without specific training. Google now blacklists an average of 50,000 internet sites for phishing every week.

On the upside, the ways that it is possible to protect your self from phishing attacks have evolved aswell in recent years. They range from using up-to-date firewall software to using secure platforms such as for example cloud-based business phone services.

A new threat is looming on the horizon: video phishing.

Driven by technological advances, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, this new trend has the potential of causing catastrophic security breaches.

Keep reading to find out what video phishing is, what it seems like, and how you can protect yourself.

How does Video Phishing work?

Surprise! Elon Musk is interrupting your Zoom call.

Sounds fake? It is.

But it looks disturbingly real.

See the end of the document for embed.

The video above shows a software of Avatarify, a tool manufactured by a researcher to transform users in to celebrities in real-time throughout Zoom or Skype calls. Its inventor, Ali Aliev, says that the program’s purpose was to have some fun throughout COVID-19 lockdown — by surprising friends during video conferences as Albert Einstein, Eminem, or the Mona Lisa.

The technology behind donning someone else’s animated face like a mask is called deepfaking.

Deepfakes are relatively new applications of machine learning tools. These tools generate realistic faces by analyzing 1000s of videos and images of a target’s face and extracting patterns for common expressions and movements. Then, these patterns can be projected onto anybody, effectively morphing them in to someone else.

You utilize the image of  Elon Musk. Or President Obama. In fact, a deep fake video of the former President calling his successor ‘a total and complete dips**t’ went viral in 2018.

The implications of this technology for cybersecurity are wide-reaching and potentially disastrous.


What will be the Dangers of Video Phishing?

According to CNN, the majority of deepfake videos on the net as of the conclusion of 2019, were pornography. In total, 15,000 of such videos were counted. That might not seem like much, taking into consideration the vastness of the internet.

The reason behind these rather limited numbers has been that generating convincing deepfakes has a fair amount of computational power. Avatarify, for example, takes a high-level gaming PC to operate properly.

But lower-quality applications have been completely developed, like a face-swapping app that got banned again fairly quickly.

It is a question of time before deepfake technology becomes widely available. And widely used for cybercrime.

Some of those scams have been completely recorded and you can find them on YouTube.

In one case, hackers used similar technology to deepfake the voices of Chief executive officers and sent voicemail messages to executives. They succeeded in effecting a transfer of a mind-boggling $243,000.

In still another case, three men were arrested in Israel for swindling a businessman out of $8 million by impersonating the French foreign minister.

Experts already are warning against other possible applications of deepfake videos for frauds to generate funds. One scenario, for example, is extortion. Hackers could threaten the release of a video containing content that may be damaging to a person’s or business’ reputation. Such content could range from straight-out pornography to the CEO of a business endorsing racist views.

As experiences have shown, that may be disastrous. For businesses, even the regular type of ‘fake news’ might have catastrophic impacts on industry relationships, and even their stock market values.

“Those kinds of things can put a company out of business through reputation damage,” Chris Kennedy of the AI cyber-security platform AttackIQ said in a recent interview with Forbes. “We’re hitting the tipping point in which technology is taking advantage of the biggest human weakness, we’re over-trusting.”

How to Defend Yourself against Deepfake Video Phishing

Today, having a higher cybersecurity standard is more important than in the past. With on the web life proliferating during the COVID-19 crisis, scams and phishing attacks have flourished aswell.

The good news regarding phishing videos is that the technology, as of 2020, is still relatively new, and the case numbers relatively low. That means that individuals and companies have time and energy to prepare, and disseminate information to ward against such attacks.

Know the essential defense moves

As a most basic kind of defense, careful attention is advised in the event that you receive an unsolicited video call, particularly from some body famous or in a position of authority. Never trusting caller IDs, hanging up instantly, and perhaps not sharing any information on such calls is important.

If you receive video messages that could be authentic, nevertheless, you are uncertain about it, you should use software to find out if that which you are facing is a deep fake. For example, businesses such as Deeptrace offers computer software with the capability to recognize AI-generated video content.

Apart from that, some low-tech solutions to force away video phishing are having agreed-upon code words when communicating about painful and sensitive information via video messaging, using a 2nd communication channel to confirm information, or asking security questions that your interlocutor can only answer if they are the real thing.

Basically, pretend you’re in an old James Bond film. ‘In London, April’s a Spring month’ and all that.

Final Thoughts

Using AI to morph into somebody else and extract sensitive information may still sound futuristic. But it’s only a question of time until video phishing hits the main-stream.

As technology advances and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to copy the face area and voice of people become widely available, how many deepfake scams is set to undergo the roof.

[Source: This article was published in digitalmarketnews.com By Kanheya Singh - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Categorized in Deep Web

Silk Road was an internet black market and the first modern-day darknet market. It was founded by Ross William Ulbricht (also known as Dread Pirate Roberts) born in Texas, the U.S. who had a different ideology.

He believed everyone should have the right to buy, sell whatever they want as long as they did not harm anyone.

If we summarise it, it made Ulbricht a millionaire, and later a convict.

It may sound like a Hollywood movie but it is true. Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves narrated a 2015 documentary on the Silk Road legend called Dark Web which chronicles the rise and fall of the black market and its founder.

Initial Days

SilkRoad was first launched in February 2011. Ulbricht started his dark web marketplace development in 2010. It was a side project to Good Wagon Books. The project was designed to use Tor and bitcoin. It was destined that his marketplace to become the catalyst for a revolution.

When it started, there were a limited number of new seller accounts available. So, every new seller has to purchase a merchant account in an auction. Later, each merchant has to give a fixed fee.

How did it work?

As it operated as a Tor hidden service, communications on Silk Road were considered by users to be entirely anonymous. Besides, transactions on Silk Road could only be made using bitcoins.

For customers, the main benefit it had over its rivals was that it was trustworthy.

Same like eBay, it would match consumers and dealers, allows both parties to rate each other, and provide products to be delivered directly to customers’ doors by the unsuspecting mail service.   

Silk Road 1.jpg

His website connected nearly 4,000 drug traders around the world to sell their drugs to more than 100,000 buyers, and could you get you anything you want from fake documents to top-quality heroin.

It is estimated that in its very short span, over $1 billion transferred through Silk Road, giving Ulbricht a secret fortune of an estimated $28 million at the time of his arrest.

Products in Silk Road

Initial listings on Silk Road were to be restricted to products that resulted in ‘victimless crimes’. On that foundation, products linked to the likes of stolen credit cards, assassinations, weapons of mass destruction and child pornography were banned.

Silk Road 2.jpg

Ulbricht became unwilling or unable to maintain the standards that he had initially set and indeed had relaxed the policy on banning the sale of weapons based on a view that increased firearm regulations were making it harder for people to purchase guns, in contrast with his libertarian values. Furthermore, as the site evolved, more and more ‘contraband’ products began to be listed.

There were also legal goods and services for sale, such as apparel, art, books, cigarettes, erotica, jewelry, and writing services. A sister site, called “The Armoury”, sold weapons (primarily firearms) during 2012, but was shut down, due to a lack of demand.

The End of the Silk Road

Although the authorities were aware of the existence of Silk Road within a few months of its launch, it took over two years from that time for Ulbricht’s identity to be revealed.

Ulbricht may have included a reference to Silk Road on his LinkedIn page, where he discussed his wish to “use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind” and claimed, “I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.” Ulbricht moved to San Francisco before his arrest.

Ulbricht was first connected to “Dread Pirate Roberts” by Gary Alford, an IRS investigator working with the DEA on the Silk Road case, in mid-2013.

The connection was made by linking the username “altoid”, used during Silk Road’s early days to announce the website and a forum post in which Ulbricht, posting under the nickname “altoid”, asked for programming help and gave his email address, which contained his full name.

On an October afternoon in a public library in San Francisco, Ross Ulbricht’s dream of an online libertarian paradise came to a sudden end. The FBI had finally caught up with Ulbricht having infiltrated the Silk Road.

At the time of his arrest, he was logged into Silk Road as an administrator and using his Dread Pirate Roberts alias to unknowingly communicate with an undercover FBI agent. Agents found that Ulbricht’s laptop had tens of millions of dollars of bitcoin on it, with millions more stored on USB drives found in his apartment.

The computer also contained Ulbricht’s private journal, which contained damning evidence against him. Within hours of his arrest, Silk Road’s domain had been seized, the market was shut down and Ross Ulbricht’s grand plans to make the world a better place were in disarray.

Silk Road 3.jpg

Aftermath – Silk Road

As part of their investigation into Silk Road, the FBI had caught up with several other Silk Road users and administrators while hunting for Dread Pirate Robert. Prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht paid $730,000 to others to commit the murders, although none of the murders occurred.

The FBI initially seized 26,000 bitcoins from accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately $3.6 million at the time. An FBI spokesperson said that the agency would hold the bitcoins until Ulbricht’s trial finished, after which the bitcoins would be liquidated.

In October 2013, the FBI reported that it had seized 144,000 bitcoins, worth $28.5 million and that the bitcoins belonged to Ulbricht.

The complaint published when Ulbricht was arrested included information the FBI gained from a system image of the Silk Road server collected on 23 July 2013. It noted that “From February 6, 2011, to July 23, 2013, there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins. These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions, at current Bitcoin exchange rates…”, according to the September 2013 complaint, and involved 146,946 buyers and 3,877 vendors.

On 27 June 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks in an online auction, estimated to be worth $18 million at contemporary rates and only about a quarter of the seized bitcoins. Another 144,342 bitcoins were kept which had been found on Ulbricht’s computer, roughly $87 million.


Ulbricht’s trial began on 13 January 2015 in federal court in Manhattan. At the start of the trial, Ulbricht admitted to founding the Silk Road website but claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.

In the second week of the trial, prosecutors presented documents and chat logs from Ulbricht’s computer that, they said, demonstrated how Ulbricht had administered the site for many months, which contradicted the defense’s claim that Ulbricht had relinquished control of Silk Road. Ulbricht’s attorney suggested that the documents and chat logs were planted there by way of BitTorrent, which was running on Ulbricht’s computer at the time of his arrest.

On 4 February 2015, the jury convicted Ulbricht of seven charges, including charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking. He faced 30 years to life in prison.

The government also accused Ulbricht of paying for the murders of at least five people, but there is no evidence that the murders were carried out, and the accusations never became formal charges against Ulbricht.

During the trial, Judge Forrest received death threats. Users of an underground site called The Hidden Wiki posted her personal information there, including her address and Social Security number. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he and his client “obviously, and as strongly as possible, condemn” the anonymous postings against the judge.

In a letter to Judge Forrest before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated that his actions through Silk Road were committed through libertarian idealism and that “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices” and admitted that he made a “terrible mistake” that “ruined his life”.

On 29 May 2015, Ulbricht was given five sentences to be served concurrently, including two for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He was also ordered to forfeit $183 million. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he would appeal the sentencing and the original guilty verdict.

On 31 May 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Ulbricht’s appeal and affirmed the judgment of conviction and life sentence.

Ulbricht’s family continues to campaign to “free Ross Ulbricht from a barbaric, double life sentence for all non-violent charges”, with a website in place to accept donations towards lawyer fees.

 [Source: This article was published in darkweb.wiki - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

Categorized in Search Engine

Protect yourself by learning about this mysterious digital world

Below the surface, the internet you recognize and use for your browsing is a shadowy, digital netherworld. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is projected to cost the world more than $6 trillion annually by 2021. At the heart of most cybercrime is the Dark Web.

The Dark Web is making its way into the public sphere more and more, but much remains unclear and misunderstood about this mysterious digital world that most of us will never see. Here’s what you need to know:

Three Layers of the Web

The World Wide Web has three distinct layers. The first is the Surface Web, where most people do searches using standard browsers. The second is the Deep Web, which is not indexed in standard search engines and is accessed by logging in directly to a site; it often requires some form of authentication for access. Finally, there is the Dark Web, which is only accessible through specific browsers. Its most common browser, Tor, encrypts all traffic and allows users to remain anonymous.

Gaining access to Dark Web sites often requires an invitation which is offered only after a substantial vetting process. Purveyors of these sites want to keep out law enforcement, although “white hat” hackers (computer security experts) and law enforcement have successfully broken through. Some identity theft protection services provide Dark Web monitoring to see if your personal information, such as your credit card, has been stolen. Often it is through the monitoring of the Dark Web that security professionals first become aware of massive data breaches by researching the commonality of large troves of personal information being sold.

Never click on any links in an email regardless of how legitimate the email may appear unless you have confirmed the email is indeed legitimate.

It is on these criminal Dark Web sites that all kinds of malware, like ransomware, are bought and sold. Other goods and services bought, sold and leased on these Dark Web cybercrime websites include login credentials to bank accounts, personal information stolen through data breaches, skimmers (devices to attack credit card processing equipment and ATMs) and ATM manuals that include default passwords.

Be Aware of Cybercrime Tools

Amazingly, the Dark Web sites have ratings and reviews, tech support, software updates, sales and loyalty programs just like regular retail websites. Many also offer money laundering services. Additionally, botnets (short for “robot network”) of compromised computers can be leased on the Dark Web to deliver malware as well as phishing and spear phishing emails (these appear to be sent from a trusted sender, but are seeking confidential information).

While the actual number of cybercriminal geniuses is relatively small, they’ve developed a lucrative business model. They create sophisticated malware, other cybercrime tools and their delivery systems, then sell or lease those tools to less sophisticated criminals.

The proliferation of ransomware attacks provides a good example of how this business model operates. Ransomware infects your computer and encrypts all of your data. Once your data has been encrypted, you, the victim of a ransomware attack, are told that a ransom must be paid within a short period of time or your data will be destroyed. Ransomware attacks have increased dramatically in the past few years and are now the fastest growing cybercrime.

Cybersecurity Ventures says companies are victimized by ransomware every 14 seconds, at a cost of $11.5 billion worldwide this year. While the creation and development of new ransomware strains requires great knowledge and skill, most ransomware attacks are being perpetrated by less sophisticated cybercriminals who purchase the ransomware on the Dark Web.

Regardless of how protective you are of your personal information, you are only as safe as the legitimate institutions that have your information.

Phishing, and more targeted spear phishing, have long been the primary way that malware, such as ransomware and keystroke logging malware used for identity theft purposes, are delivered. Phishing and spear phishing lure victims into clicking links within emails that download malware onto their computer systems.

Sophisticated cybercriminals now use artificial intelligence to gather personal information from social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites to produce spear phishing emails with high success rates.

How to Protect Yourself

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from having your information turn up on the Dark Web is to avoid downloading the malware that can lead to your information being stolen or your computer being made a part of a botnet. Never click on any links in an email regardless of how legitimate the email may appear unless you have confirmed that the email is indeed legitimate.

Relying on security software is not enough to protect you, because the best security software is always at least a month behind the latest strains of malware. Regardless of how protective you are of your personal information, you are only as safe as the legitimate institutions that have your information.

In this era of constant data breaches, it is advisable to use an identity theft protection service that will monitor the Dark Web and alert you if your information appears there.  And there are websites which offer guidance on what to do if this happens to you. These monitors are a small flashlight shedding a beam on a very dark section of the digital universe and may help avoid major headaches before it’s too late.

[Source: This article was published in nextavenue.org By Steve Weisman - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]

Categorized in Deep Web

Source: This article was Published cnbc.com By Arjun Kharpal - Contributed by Member: Martin Grossner

  • The dark web is a hidden portion of the internet that can only be accessed using special software.
  • TOR, or The Onion Router, is a popular anonymous browsing network used to connect to the dark web.
  • While the dark web offers anonymity and a way to bypass internet censorship, it is commonly associated with illegal activities such as the buying and selling of drugs and other contraband.

The so-called dark web, a portion of the hidden internet, is usually associated with a host of illegal activities including the buying and selling of drugs, firearms, stolen financial data and other types of valuable information. The selling point? Total anonymity.

That may sound nefarious, but some experts argue that the dark web is also useful in circumventing internet censorship.

While most people spend their time online on what is known as the surface web — the portion of the World Wide Web that can be accessed with standard browsers and search engines — it has become relatively easy for anyone to access the dark web.

The dark web is a small subset of the deep web, which is part of the internet that is not found using search engines. That includes many websites that require users to log in with a username and password, and the deep web is estimated to be about 400 to 500 times larger than the common internet. The dark web is relatively smaller — it is made up of a series of encrypted networks that is able to hide users' identities and locations and can only be accessed with special software.

The most popular of those networks is called TOR, or The Onion Router, which was developed initially for government use before it was made available to the general public.

"When people typically refer to the dark web, a lot of the time they're referring to a portion of the internet that's accessible using an anonymous browsing network called TOR," Charles Carmakal, a vice president at cybersecurity firm FireEye, told CNBC's "Beyond the Valley" podcast.

One of the primary functions of the TOR network is that it allows users to access ".onion" pages, which are specially encrypted for maximum privacy.

Carmakal explained that TOR also lets users connect to normal websites anonymously so that their internet service providers cannot tell what they're browsing. Similarly, the websites will not be able to pinpoint the location of the users browsing their pages.

On the TOR browser, the connection requests are re-routed several times before reaching their destination. For example, if a user in Singapore is trying to connect to a website in London, that request on a TOR browser could be routed from Singapore to New York to Sydney to Capetown to, finally, London.

According to Carmakal, a service like TOR is a useful tool for many users to bypass state censorship and crackdowns on the internet. With it, he said, they can communicate with the free world without any repercussions. The service is also used by journalists and law enforcement, he said.

Still, the term dark web today is commonly associated with illegal activities. In recent years, a number of high-profile marketplaces on the dark web were taken down for selling drugs and other contraband, including Silk Road, AlphaBay and Hansa.

Law enforcement agencies around the world have been working hard to take down communities on the dark web that criminals use, according to James Chappell, co-founder of a London-based threat intelligence company Digital Shadows.

Hansa, for instance, was taken down by the Dutch national police last year after authorities seized control of the marketplace. In a press release, the officials said they had collected around 10,000 addresses of buyers on the marketplace and passed them onto Europol, the European Union's law enforcement body.

"It was very interesting to see the effect this had. Initially, we thought that lots of websites would come back online, just replacing Hansa as soon as it was taken down," Chappell told, "Beyond the Valley." Instead, a lot of the users moved away from TOR and onto message-based services like Discord and Telegram, he said.

Categorized in Deep Web

Source: This article was published smh.com.au - Contributed by Member: Corey Parker

"Bewildered" was how his lawyer described Dov Tenenboim when he was arrested on Thursday for allegedly masterminding a dark net drug syndicate from his Vaucluse unit.

The shock of the self-described "elite hacker" and "entrepreneur" who police allege was behind a complex scheme importing commercial quantities of cocaine, MDMA, and ketamine from Europe via the postal service's surprise might be the fear of anyone arrested for such a serious crime.

That the charges even involved conduct allegedly carried out on the dark web was itself unusual: the DarkWeb is supposed to be bulletproof, a mecca for types for whom anonymity is paramount.

While a scrambled IP address affords significant protection to users, there's no guarantee of an anonymous purchase.

"Feeling safer is actually one of the reasons that people say they buy drugs online. Both the buyers and sellers are not worried about violence, there's no potential for a Scarface moment," Swinburne University's Associate Professor James Martin told The Sun Herald.

He said the dark web was a mecca for drug dealers, scammers, and pedophiles.

Darknet users also feel safe from law enforcement. "With a traditional arrest, police bust people as they are handing over the cash for their drugs, there is sometimes a weapon too. On the darknet, none of those things are in the same place - the dealers, the buyers, the drugs and the weapons are all separately located. It's much more challenging for law enforcement."

After a five-month operation, police busted Tenenboim's alleged scheme.

Police allege that as well as being posted to Botany, Randwick, Darlinghurst, Vaucluse, Potts Point and Bondi, the drugs were mailed to addresses in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Police will allege in court that the privately educated advertising worker imported the drugs to Australia through the mail, posting packages to different addresses across the country then distributed them to suppliers in 300g packages - worth up to $90,000 for a single package.

In dramatic scenes on Friday morning in the quiet Diamond Bay Road, Tenenboim was arrested outside his house before police in riot gear raided his apartment.

A diamond ring, $69,685, a USB with 35 bitcoins worth $350,000, mobile phones and computers were seized by police as investigations continue.

A police source on Friday night said that more arrests were likely to hit the Australia-wide syndicate.

“Police have cottoned onto one of the real weaknesses of the Dark Net, which is the postal system," said Dr. Martin."

From monitoring the Dark Net and talking to dealers, most of those located overseas are very happy to send drugs to Australia. That confidence is reflected in terms and conditions in their online stores - if your drugs are intercepted or don't arrive, they will offer a full money-back guarantee. Just like Uber or Air B&B, that customer feedback is how they do business."

"We know most consignments of illicit drugs coming into the country are not detected," he added.

Dr. Simon Walsh, national manager of specialist operations at the Australian Federal Police, told ABC's 7.30  show last year that the sheer volume of criminality on the dark web forces police to triage. "We're dealing with high volume offenses," Dr. Walsh said.

"So sometimes in that circumstance, it's really not practical, or possible to chase every single [item]."
A senior police source who has worked on a number of dark web drug investigations confirmed that like traditional street drug dealers, investigations into the dark web concentrate on the higher level offenders.

"We have the names and address of people who have bought the drugs from the dark web. We haven't historically pursued people for a gram of coke or a pill, although that could change," he warned.

Another Eastern Suburbs man, 33, who police will allege in court was a part of the Tenenboim’s alleged syndicate, was arrested last month and charged with two counts of commercial quantity drug supply and indictable quantity drug supply.

When Tenenboim appeared before Waverley Local Court on Friday, it was on more than 50 similar charges, plus a count of dealing with proceeds of crime and a charge of directing a criminal group.

Wearing a maroon T-shirt, he shifted from foot to foot in the dock as his lawyer Bill O'Brien asked for an anti-anxiety medication to be made available to him in prison. His fiancee Lisa Hester looked on unhappily.

Categorized in Deep Web

What do real customers search for?

It seems like a straightforward question, but once you start digging into research and data, things become muddled. A word or phrase might be searched for often, yet that fact alone doesn’t mean those are your customers.

While a paid search campaign will give us insight into our “money” keywords — those that convert into customers and/or sales — there are also many other ways to discover what real customers search.

Keyword Evolution

We are in the era where intent-based searches are more important to us than pure volume. As the search engines strive to better understand the user, we have to be just as savvy about it too, meaning we have to know a lot about our prospects and customers.

In addition, we have to consider voice search and how that growth will impact our traffic and ultimately conversions. Most of us are already on this track, but if you are not or want to sharpen your research skills, there are many tools and tactics you can employ.

Below are my go-to tools and techniques that have made the difference between average keyword research and targeted keyword research that leads to interested web visitors.

1. Get to Know the Human(s) You’re Targeting

Knowing the target audience, I mean really knowing them, is something I have preached for years. If you have read any of my past blog posts, you know I’m a broken record.

You should take the extra step to learn the questions customers are asking and how they describe their problems. In marketing, we need to focus on solving a problem.

SEO is marketing. That means our targeted keywords and content focus should be centered on this concept.

2. Go Beyond Traditional Keyword Tools

I love keyword research tools. There is no doubt they streamline the process of finding some great words and phrases, especially the tools that provide suggested or related terms that help us build our lists. Don’t forget about the not-so-obvious tools, though.

Demographics Pro is designed to give you detailed insights into social media audiences, which in turn gives you a sense of who might be searching for your brand or products. You can see what they’re interested in and what they might be looking for. It puts you on the right track to targeting words your customers are using versus words your company believes people are using.

You can glean similar data about your prospective customers by using a free tool, Social Searcher. It’s not hard to use — all you have to do is input your keyword(s), select the source and choose the post type. You can see recent posts, users, sentiment and even related hashtags/words, as reflected in the following Social Searcher report:

social searcher screen shot

If you are struggling with your keywords, another great tool to try is Seed Keywords. This tool makes it possible to create a search scenario that you can then send to your friends. It is especially useful if you are in a niche industry and it is hard to find keywords.

Once you have created the search scenario, you get a link that you can send to people. The words they use to search are then collected and available to you. These words are all possible keywords.

seed keywords screen shot

3. Dig into Intent

Once I get a feel for some of the keywords I want to target, it is time to take it a step further. I want to know what type of content is ranking for those keywords, which gives me an idea of what Google, and the searchers, believe the intent to be.

For the sake of providing a simple example (there are many other types of intent that occur during the buyer’s journey), let’s focus on two main categories of intent: buy and know.

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Let’s say I’m targeting the term “fair trade coffee:”

Google search result page

Based on what is in results, Google believes the searcher’s intent could either be to purchase fair trade coffee or to learn more about it. In this case, the page I am trying to optimize can be targeted toward either intent.

Here’s another example:

Google search result page

In this scenario, if I was targeting the keyword, “safe weed removal,” I would create and/or optimize a page that provides information, or in other words, satisfies the “know” intent.

There are many tools that can help you determine what pages are ranking for your targeted keywords, including SEOToolSet, SEMRush, and Ahrefs. You would simply click through them to determine the intent of the pages.

4. Go from Keywords to Questions

People search questions. That’s not newsworthy, but we should be capitalizing on all of the opportunities to answer those questions. Therefore, don’t ever forget about the long-tail keyword.

Some of my favorite tools to assist in finding questions are Answer the Public, the new Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo, and FaqFox.

Answer The Public uses autosuggest technology to present the common questions and phrases associated with your keywords. It generates a visualization of data that can help you get a better feel for the topics being searched.

With this tool, you get a list of questions, not to mention other data that isn’t depicted below:

Answer the public chart

The Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo locates the most popular questions that are asked across countless forums and websites, including Amazon, Reddit, and Quora. If I want to know what people ask about “coffee machines,” I can get that information:

question analyzer screen shot

FaqFox will also provide you with questions related to your keywords using such sites at Quora, Reddit, and Topix.

For example, if I want to target people searching for “iced coffee,” I might consider creating and optimizing content based on the following questions:

faq fox screen shot

Final Thoughts

There are constantly new techniques and tools to make our jobs easier. Your main focus should be on how to get customers to your website, which is done by knowing how to draw them in with the right keywords, questions, and content.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal By Mindy Weinstein

Categorized in Online Research

Table Of Contents

1. What is the Deep Web?

There are many words to describe the deep web, including the invisible web, hidden web, and even Deepnet.

The reason it exists is because the Internet has become so dependent upon search engines, and search engines are only as good as the web crawlers that serve up content for the results. Some researchers believe that the searchable web is barely 1% of what’s actually available on the World Wide Web.

Crawlers are excellent at crawling through static web pages, extracting information on those pages, and providing that information in the form of search results. However, there is valuable information tucked away below the surface of those search results – information buried inside online databases and dynamically generated pages that the search spiders are capable of crawling.

Just a few examples of those tremendous databases include information like patents, census data, data collected on space missions, climate data and academic databases filled with scientific papers overflowing with interesting and valuable information.

All of this doesn’t even include the deepest and darkest corner of the Internet where secretive onion websites exist, accessible only through special Tor software. A basic layout of what this looks like is shown below.

Deep Web.png

Methods of accessing these different parts of the deep web are determined by the data that you want to get at. The tools used to navigate the deep web are outlined here.

  • Databases – Information about people, census data, climate data, world information and other searchable information that could be stored in a table format.
  • Journals and Books – Information contained in a digital format that is either stored in a format not accessible by web crawlers or exists behind a paid gateway. These files need to be downloaded and opened on a PC.
  • Tor Network – Sites that want to remain hidden, and typically include things like illegal porn, stolen personal data, drug contacts, anonymous political dissidents, terrorists, and more.

This manual will take you on a tour through the many levels of the deep web, starting with the databases where you can find information only accessible to those who know the secrets to accessing them. Then, we’ll continue on to the spectrum of information available in academic journals and books where you can browse through volumes of writings about scholarly topics. Finally, we’ll arrive at the gates of Tor, beyond which lies the deep darkness of the entire Internet.

1.1 Databases for People Research

If you are a landlord or if you’ve ever taught in most school systems, then you’re probably more than familiar with one of the most common deep web databases around – the background search.

Most businesses or public institutions like schools will pay for a background check, but there are also databases all throughout the Internet where you can query to learn more about people.

The databases that are available for free include public records, criminal databases, digitized court records, and a variety of “people search” websites that provide basic identifying information, physical address, and family details.

There are a number of reasons to use deep web for people research – everything from finding lost relatives to genealogical research.

1.1.1 Adoption Research

A common use of people search databases is by adopted children trying to find their natural parents.

Regular people-search websites and services can be used for adoption research, but usually such research is hit-and-miss, since most of the free services provide only superficial information about people, and the paid websites require the researcher to know things like birth date and current location of residence. In most cases, an adopted child or parent may have some vague idea of the birth date, but no idea where the person is currently located.

This kind of research is so common in fact that there is now an influx of new websites specifically designed to match adopted children with natural parents who want to be found.

These are non-profit “registries” where adopted children and the parents who gave up their children are able to register for finding their child or parent.


These databases are not accessible from search engines, but knowing the right registry databases, either parents or children stand the chance of discovering and reuniting with their family members.

1.1.2 Lost Relatives

Another common use for people-search websites is when children run away, one parent leaves the family, or extended family members simply lose contact over time. In cases like these, a family member may seek out resources on the Internet to track down those relatives. Typical tools for this sort of research includes things like:

  • Social Networks – There have been many family reunions on Facebook
  • Search Engines – You’d be surprised what you can find!
  • Public Records
  • Online White Pages
  • People Search Websites
  • Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes

Finding lost relatives is probably one of the hardest research activities on the deep web, unless you have a good amount of detailed information about the person. Usually with a birthday, current residence, current age, full name or the names of immediate family members, you should be able to locate nearly anyone to a good degree of certainty.

1.1.3 Veteran Research

Most veterans work for a national government, and since most governments that are open with information offer a number of valuable and useful tools for research, veteran research on the Web is actually very fruitful.

For example, the Ministry of Defence in the UK provides a “Subject Access Request” form where veterans can request their own service records from the government.


This form can be found at The National Archivesfor the UK, and most governments around the world also have their own National Archives online where you can also do veteran research for service members in your country.

In addition to national archives, you can do Veterans research online using the following Deep Web resources not searchable via any search engine.

  • FOIA Requests
  • Non-Profit Organizations for Veterans
  • US Veteran Services Websites
  • Historical Research Websites

Because veterans records are maintained by governments, and because they are typically stored in locations that are easy to access, finding the records for specific veterans is usually pretty easy. This is especially true when those records have been digitized, which is more common these days than ever before. The Deep Web is chock-full of valuable veterans information.


In the people-research genre, genealogy is probably one of the most common. It is an extremely popular hobby that many thousands of people across the world actively take part in. For this reason, there are long lists of fantastic genealogy websitesacross the Internet that can help you find your past ancestors. Of course the MakeUseOf Genealogy Manualis always a great place to start.

One of the more well-known and long running one of those are the various GenWeb projects across the world.


Most major countries have their own branch of the GenWeb website, and each of those is focused on providing a database of local ancestry research resources to genealogists in those local areas.

Other Deep Web databases that you’ll find on the topic are things like:

  • Cemetery Records
  • Online Obituaries and Birth Notices
  • Free Genealogy Databases
  • Local Historical Society Databases and File Archives

1.1.5 Background Checks

Whether you’re a landlord trying to verify that your new tenants don’t have a criminal record, or you’re trying to find out if your new boyfriend has some deep hidden secrets he’s not telling you, there are lots of legitimate reasons for wanting to conduct a background check.

Any in-depth background check that you conduct online is likely going to cost a modest fee. However, what many people don’t realize is that there are legitimate ways to look up background information about people at no cost on the web. You can’t get all of the details, but you can pull up information like family members, email addresses, phone numbers and even a criminal record.

If you don’t want to spend any cash right away for the paid online background database information, you can always dig through the Internet for information. With a Google search or by searching on social networks, you can learn a lot about people – but not nearly as much as you can uncover when you start dipping into the Deep Web.


Even paid services offer just enough information in the free “introductory” searches that will let you dig up even more dirt on other sites, like public records databases.

Options to look up background data on your own include:

  • County or small regional government websites with searchable databases for local town code citations, birth or marriage records
  • State databases for arrest records or criminal history
  • Federal databases for licenses and federal criminal records, investigations, and any military service

The benefit of using paid database searches is that it saves you a lot of time and effort to dig up information on individuals. However, you can discover much of the information that turns up in the paid background reports by taking the time to visit various public records websites around the net that offer databases filled with records that are publicly accessible by anyone for free.

1.2 Other Types of Deep WebResearch

Sometimes, when you’re researching the Internet, your needs may go deeper than just researching people. It may involve digging into the history about a certain location or an event. This kind of research can span several areas of the deep web – and these areas include academic resources, government and legal case databases, and of course the many historical resources buried throughout the web, and untouchable by most web crawlers.

1.2.1 Local History

No matter where in the world you live, the odds are pretty good that you have a historical society there, or at least some organization who works to preserve and protect the history of that local region.

That local historical society may actually have their own online research database where you can search for digitized historical records.


These databases – unreachable by search engines – contain photos, scanned historical documents, and other records that all together make up a treasure trove of information that you have access to thanks to the Internet.

In additional to historical societies, your local library may actually offer similar database search utilities on their websites that let you look up digitized documents or newspaper scans that cover the history of the region.

Local history is also linked to genealogy. Researchers use just about every records database on the Internet – public records, historical societies, libraries and more, in order to track down the lineage of a family.

One of the most well-known Deep Web databases that is used as part of historical research like this is FamilySearch.org.


This is a website that is astonishingly rich with information and resources for doing genealogy research, considering the fact that the service is provided entirely free, built and supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It certainly isn’t the only genealogy database website out there, but it is one of the largest.

1.2.2 Legal Research

Whether or not you’re in trouble with the law doesn’t matter – when it comes to taking a stance on public policy or on any issue that involves legal questions, it’s good to have access to court cases and court decisions that set precedence for future court decisions.

In fact, if you arein trouble with the law, your lawyer will hopefully have a legal researcher who is well aware of the deep web, and capable of exploiting all of the resources that are buried there.

A few examples of legal research websites that you’ll find in the deep web include:

  • Law school court opinion search engines
  • Law library case databases
  • Non-profit legal organization search tools for legal cases

There are literally thousands of high quality legal research databases available on the Internet today, and surprisingly, not one item from that mountain of case documents and court decisions ever makes its way into search engine results. It’s basically a mountain of data about people, companies, organizations and historical events that you have access to if you know where to look.

1.2.3 Academic Studies

Academic research goes on around the world every single day. Often, findings are reported in the news, and other times they go unnoticed. However, you can find all of these studies tucked away deep inside of the deep web in the databases stored on various university servers.

Usually these academic databases are accessible and searchable by the public, but there are some systems that will charge you for access to the scientific journals where many of those findings are published.

However, the best option when looking to the deep web for data on academic studies and research findings are the free search tools offered by large organizations like Google (Google Scholar) and Microsoft (Microsoft Academic Research).


These are search forms that will burrow deep into the academic research databases and pull out the research and the findings that are most important to you. You won’t find these through search engines, but only through these academic research database search tools that pull the data out of the deep web for you.

1.3 Tor Websites

If the informational databases and private search tools of individual organizations make up one small part of the deep web, then Tor represents the secret dark corners where few respectable people dare to go.

Think of Tor as an alternative web. It is literally its own network, where websites don’t have any domain or IP addresses. Because of this, they are completely inaccessible to search engines. You need a special browser — these days known as the “Tor browser bundle” to access those difficult-to-find websites. I’ll give you more details on that later.


The Tor browser is your gateway into the Tor network of websites where you can download pirated movies and music, access questionable pornography or conspire to commit a crime.

Okay — so it isn’t all just about bad stuff. The Tor network is also where journalists, protesters and other people go who are wary about governments or officials trying to track their online activities. The Tor network, being one level removed from the Internet itself, provides a certain degree of privacy and security.

The websites located on the Tor network are known as “onion” sites, because most of the sites located there end with the .onion extension — only readable with the Tor browser.

1.3.1 Secret Websites

The Tor browser lets you browse the normal Internet anonymously — under a fake IP address. However, to access the hidden websites, you’ll need to find the Onion directories. You can browse the regular Internet for directories that list active Onion sites.


Some of those sites may also include “Deep Search” sites that act as sort of search engines for the Tor Network. Most Onion sites come and go, so it isn’t useful to list any active ones here because they likely will disappear before long.

The best way to find the sites is to start with a standard Internet search engine for “onion sites” and look for search engines or directories within the Tor network. Access those from your Tor browser, and you’re on your way toward discovering the many secret Onion sites scattered throughout the deep web.

1.3.2 Illegal Websites and Content

Once you start exploring the Tor network through these directories and search engines, it won’t take long for you to realize just how astonishing this part of the Deep web really is. You’ll find all sorts of downloadable content like books, magazines, and all kinds of other media that you’d be hard-pressed to discover on the open web.


Much of this is content that is openly available for free to the public without any sort of royalty issues, but there is also content throughout the Tor network that is fully licensed and where the owner should legally receive royalties. By downloading the content – like music, movies and more – you are essentially stealing those published works from the creator.

However, that ethical problem doesn’t stop the Tor network from being used as the distribution center for illegal, pirated movies, music and print publications.

In fact, the anonymity provided by the Tor browser, combined with the creation of so many “secret” websites that offer anything you could possibly hope to find, has also resulted in the proliferation of things like illegal pornography, terrorism and crime handbooks, stolen credit card numbers, and more.

This is the darkest part of the web, so the fact that this kind of content and people exist there shouldn’t surprise you – so if you do decide to go there, tread very carefully.

2. Deep Web Research Resources

In the next chapters, we’ll provide you with specific instructions on how to go about finding information, data or other content inside the deep web. In addition. you’ll find lots of useful resources in each section, which should offer a good starting point in your own journey through that part of the invisible Internet.

2.1 Statistics

Have you ever wondered how many women vs men use social networks? Are you working on a research paper for school, and need to know the results of the latest studies on disease?

The volume of data that’s available on the Internet outside of the reach of search engines is remarkable, and this is especially true when it comes to statistical research online. The reason for this is that there are two types of organizations that generally make it their business to distribute very detailed statistical information to the public — governments, and educational organizations.

By taking advantage of the free databases made available by these organizations, you can discover information that most people would find surprising. Anyone else who tries to find that data simply by Googling won’t find it, because to get access to that data, you need to know the URL for the search form of those databases.

The following are some of the most valuable deep web databases for statistical data on the web.

2.1.1 Government Databases

Governments around the world offer citizens a virtual warehouse filled to the ceiling with impressive data about regions and people. The following are some examples of government databases around the world. United States

Nearly every agency inside of the U.S. government performs some form of research. Because of this, the U.S. government as a collective entity contains an unimaginable amount of data. As a service to the public for sifting through all that information, the government offers a website called FedStatsthat organizes government-created statistical data in one place.


The “Topic Links” section allows visitors to sift through a list of U.S. statistical data on subjects like adoption, state and national historical data, disease rates, educational statistics and much more. FedStats is probably the single most comprehensive statistical database research tool for deep web researchers. Most of the data found here is available in PDF format, or via database search forms.

The Pollak Libraryat the University Fullerton of California has accumulated its own impressive collection of free government databases for you to sift through for information.


Interesting databases you’ll find here include the Homeland Security Digital Library, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the Educator’s Reference Desk [ERIC].

Another valuable resource for government deep web databases is a wiki called GODORT, the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association. GODORT offers a list of State agencies across the United States. In this Wiki for every state in the U.S. you can find court docket records, political information, property databases and more.


Other government databases that provide you with information that’s untouchable to search engines includes all of the following:

  • CGP– A database of published government ebooks covering research and studies across many different topical areas.
  • Christopher Center– Valparaiso University has a nice collection of government databases, organized by genre like Arts & Humanities, Consumer Affairs, Education and more.
  • GPO– The U.S. Government Printing office offers a useful search engine for collections of printed documents like government manuals, laws, presidential papers and more. Europe

If you live in Europe and you’re looking for deep web government databases online, there are plenty of options. In Europe, there are just as many (if not more) Departments and organizations where you can find data that may be important to you, but you need to know where to look.

Because the list is so long, the European Unionactually provides a directory of government databases organized by subject.

In the EU directory, you’ll find sections for Agriculture, Environment, Public Health and even local development databases like EURYDICE, the Educational system and policies in Europe where you can find facts, figures and reports about the educational systems in Europe, all buried deep inside the website as a collection of PDF reports and data.


Just like FedStats for the U.S., the corresponding starting point for European statistics is a website called Eurostat. It is a little more focused on government financials than anything else.


Here, you can look up database information about government expenditures, government debt, and quarterly financial statements.

This is all great for financial information, but what about the sort of data sources that you’d find at a place like the National Archives in the U.S.? Well, the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University offers a system called Euro Docs, which is a giant directory linking you to historical documents for European countries.

You never know what you’ll find while browsing through these resources. While many of these are simply links to other informational websites, many of those external websites are databases or documents to volumes of information.

For example, at one link I stumbled upon a digital, interactive map of Roman and Medieval civilizations in Europe.


One of the coolest tools that you could use to efficiently visualize public data from around the world is theGoogle Public Data Explorer, an online data visualization tool that we’ve covered previously at MakeUseOf.

This is an amazing tool that pulls data from many of the same government data sources mentioned above, but in a visual format, allows you to compare and predict data trends across the world for things like domestic issues, economic factors, education, and agriculture.


You can select from the list of any country in the world, and even filter by gender, or narrow the size of the prediction window from 50 years down to just a few.

2.1.2 Academic Databases

Across the world, there are many thousands of ongoing scientific studies and research about some of the most important issues facing the world today. Many of the findings in these studies have ramifications that sometimes could influence the health, social beliefs or the laws of entire populations.

Academic databases are probably the deepest part of the invisible Internet, so it’s not an easy task to cover all of them, however there is a very clear shortlist of resources that provide access to the largest bulk of academic journals and books on the Internet. These are search engines or database that are inaccessible to the Google search engine. Once you start using these resources to research for statistics, studies and other data, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

One of the most comprehensive search engines for academic journals and books is JSTOR, a digital library of over 1,500 journals, books and other sources.


The goal of this non-profit is to help researchers, students and others build and use a “wide range of scholarly content”.


Even if you don’t plan to invest in obtaining research material, most of the studies and other sources provide findings in the introduction, so you can at least obtain the ultimate conclusion of the study even though you need to pay to read the entire report.

The results of most searches using this database search tool usually return hundreds or even thousands of results. The journals and other sources that are available are displayed in sample form — but to download the full study or book you do need to pay.

Another very popular resource for digging into the deep web of scholarly works is ironically Google itself, with a resource known as Google Scholar.


Google Scholar will sift through articles published in major journals — utilizing the same search techniques as organizations like JSTOR, and often providing the same results. Google Scholar provides access to journal publications, patents and even case law results from U.S. federal or State courts (U.S.-based only).

The patents search capability of this search tool is worth its weight in gold. There are some amazing discoveries hidden away in the patents database.

One of the most well known academic research tools is the Institute of Education Sciences (ERIC). This system run by the Education Department of the U.S. government has long been a tool of librarians and educators to conduct academic research, and to help students find citations for their work.


ERIC is probably one of the most useful resources for students, because many of the papers and studies provided in the results are available in full from educational institutions or non-profit research organizations. Excerpts are always available, and a direct link to the source is provided for every result.


You can search for only published work that has been peer reviewed, or only for results that provide the full text download straight from the ERIC system. The ease of use and low-cost of many results make this a research tool of choice for academic information on the deep web.

Never to be outdone, Microsoft provides a counterpart to Google Scholar in the form of Microsoft Academic Search.


Like Google Scholar, many results are available for free, but just as many of the results include links to paid academic journals or journal distributors. Excerpts are available however, so if only the results or findings of the paper are desired, this is a quick and easy search tool to find those.

If you’re looking for only freely available papers and journals, then you’ll want to explore the Genamics journal database. This search tool and journal directory is focused only on “freely available journal information”, and allows you to search by Title/ISSN, or browse using the “Category Browser” within the academic area that you’re interested in.


The website doesn’t look very professionally made, but the face of the site betrays the fact that the database contains over 101794 journals available for free, and that list continues to grow.

If academic conferences are your thing, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Conference Alerts website. Conferences are a fantastic way for academics to discuss and share research, and just to meet other professionals within the academic community. Conal is a website that lets you search for conferences by topic, country, or city.


This site isn’t just some dead listing that hardly ever gets updated. This website isn’t entirely a deep web search tool, because the listings themselves are HTML based, so search engines could crawl these results.

However, the Conal advanced search tool lets you search through the entire database by date, and you can subscribe to automated alerts that let you know of upcoming conferences that fit your search criteria.

Other valuable resources if you are an academic researcher looking for information inside of the deep web:

  • iSeek– The creators of this tool promise the results are safe, authoritative, intelligent and time-saving.
  • Digital Library of the Commons– The DLC is provided by Indiana University so students can research “full-text articles, papers and dissertations.” Most of the results found here include full PDF documents not accessible to search engines.
  • Infomine– This search engine from the University of California is what the school library offers to students to find scholarly information on the Internet.

2.2 People Research

One of the most common areas of the deep web that people dive into are resources available for checking into the background of other people. This might be a journalist trying to vet a source, a landlord looking into the background of a potential tenant, or a number of other reasons to research another person.

Researching people online covers a wide range of different areas and resources, mostly depending on what type of information you’re looking for, how you want to use it, and your connection or relationship to the person you’re researching.

In the following sections, you’ll learn the many different ways that you can do background research on people. In most cases the services are free, but in those cases where there’s a cost, that will be clearly noted.

2.2.1 Adoption Research

Between 1999 and 2011, there were roughly 234,000 adoptions. That means that the odds are pretty good that of those thousands of children across the world, either one of the adopted children or one of the natural parents will eventually want to locate and reconnect with each other.

A very good starting point for any adoption research effort is the Adoption Database. This site offers a search tool where you can filter for things like adopted name at birth, date of birth, birth mother’s maiden name, the hospital where the birth took place, and much more.


The volume of detail and the depth of results from this database is tremendous. What you’ll basically find here are records from adopted children or natural parents who’ve submitted their information so that they can be found, in addition to who they are looking for.


This means that the database is balanced on the principle that if both the adopted child and the natural parent both want to be found and submit their information to the database, the odds are good that they’ll find each other. There are thousands of records spanning many years of adoptions in this database, which makes it a powerful tool for adoption research.

Another free tool that can help with adoption research is the Adoption Registry. This registry is run like a classified ads database, where natural parents or adopted children can place an ad describing themselves and who they are looking for.


Another good search tool is called FindMe.org, a non-profit and free “mutual consent” reunion registry. This is a registry that lets both the adoptee and the adopted find each other when they are both interested in being found.

A final, useful deep web search engine for adoption records searches is a registry search tool called Adoptee Connect.

The listings themselves are free to browse or search, but to see more of the details (such as contact info) of the poster, you’ll need to sign up for a free membership. A basic free membership provides you with 5 free entries into the database, and free searching. For more entries, you’ll need to upgrade your account.

2.2.2 Background Check Websites

Whether you’re a landlord looking to ensure your future tenant isn’t a criminal, or you just met someone new at the local dance club and want to make sure they’re not a creep, searching someone’s background on the Internet is exceedingly easy.

There are a number of websites that will provide you with information about a person’s location, online interests and even the names of their family members for absolutely free. Many of these offer limited information with a paid premium service to see all of the details.

There are a lot of services out there, like Peoplefinders, which provide you with a free listing of possible matches in a certain area, when you search for specific names.


It even provides the town where the name was located in public records, and a list of potentially related names. Many times these names are actually people who lived in the same place as that person, but are not actually relatives — so the service is not perfect.

A similar service to this is Intelius, which provides similar information, as well as a history of most recent places the person has lived. It isn’t always easy to identify the actual person you’re interested in, especially if the name is fairly common.

There are some more advanced free services that do more than just provide basic listings from public records databases, but actually use custom Internet searches to dig up whatever information exists about the person across websites, blogs and social networks throughout the Internet.

One example of this is a site called PeekYou, where you can search for a name in a specific region across the world, and then review profile information that PeekYou has collected about the person based on their activities on Twitter, Facebook, forums and other activities across the net.


Another site like this is Pipl, which provides you with search results that span different people search services across the net, as well as social network activity and regular search results.


If you are concerned that the person you’re dealing with specifically might be a sex offender, there is a National Sex Offender registryquick search available (U.S. only) provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, that will show you whether that person’s name appears in any State’s registry anywhere in the United States.


There are plenty of paid services that will perform a criminal background check for you, but the truth is that in the U.S., if you know the State where a crime probably occurred, you can usually do your own research right at the State website.


Just look for the state Criminal Justice Department website, or the Corrections Department website. These services are usually free and offered for the good of public safety.

If you are more interested in fast, paid services, the following options are available for criminal searches on people:

  • Criminal Searches– Public records criminal history search service.
  • Criminal Check– Search all state criminal records databases at once.
  • Black Book Online– Lets you search the records of criminal courts, prison inmate records, and even arrest warrants.
  • FBI– While you’re the only one who can request your own records, aside from the police, you can submit for an Identity Theft Summary from the FBI to determine if your “rap sheet” is accurate.

International/European services to search criminal records:

  • Verified Credentials– Performs an international background check, but you must be a registered business.
  • Interpol– Offers a search tool for searching whether someone is listed in the International list of Wanted Persons.
  • ICC(International Criminal Court) – Provides search tools for cases, panel discussions and news releases about past cases. This can turn up criminal cases regarding the person you’re researching.

2.2.3Phone DDirectories

Surprisingly, one of the most useful deep web research tools to find people is actually the simplest — phone directories. The old days of thick paper phone directories being delivered door-to-door are pretty much over.

Now, you can pretty much go online and so long as you know the name of the person you’re looking for and the town where they live, you can probably get their phone number and street address – assuming they haven’t specifically requested that their information be kept private (which usually requires a fee paid to the phone company).

The White Pages Neighbors look-up toolis an excellent example of this. A quick search for my info turned up my full name, phone number, and street address.


It got my age just a tiny bit off – but hey, I’m not complaining!

Other yellow & white page online directories where you can do the same kind of look-up with similar results include:

  • WhoWhere.com– U.S. based search that includes a mobile app.
  • AnyWho.com– Lets you search for both people and businesses.
  • WhitePages International– Use the International directories listing to search phone directories for other countries across the world.
  • Reverse Phone Directory– Provides a “people search” option to look up addresses and phone numbers.
  • New Ultimates– Lets you search 10 phone directory databases at once from a single page.
  • Zaba Search– One of the few phone directory search engines that lets you search names in all 50 U.S. States at once.

2.2.4Veteran & Military Information

Are you looking for information about veterans in your family or want to dig into historical research? There is a surprising wealth of veteran information in the deep web, buried behind uncrawlable military database search tools.

The most impressive, free deep web directory for veteran information is the Veterans History Project.


This is a tremendous historic database filled with volumes of veteran service information, and a very useful resource if you’re looking for information about a specific service member.

Other deep web resources for finding information about veterans include:

  • National Archives– At this site you can locate historic military service records and documents online, plus you can request specific veterans records like personnel and medical records.
  • VetFriends– A service that helps veterans reunite, is also a great deep web search tool for searching through over 10,000 units and over 1.5 million military names. Search is limited unless you join as a member.
  • Grave Locator– An excellent resource for veterans who fought alongside and lost friends in battle. The service is offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and you can locate the graves of soldiers by name and date or birth or death.
  • Find a Grave in Scotland– Similar to Grave Locator, except this is focused on graves in Scotland and includes citizens as well as soldiers.
  • Ancestry.co.uk– Provides you with a search form to find soldier, veteran and prisoner lists from the past.

3. Tor – The Dark Web

After traversing the fields of the deep web, you’ve now arrived at the entrance to a cave. This cave is a deep, dark one where the potential for danger is great, but so is the possibility of finding treasure.

Presenting the Tor network, also known as “Onion sites”, due to the fact that the sites that are hidden away on the network often have the extension of “.onion”.

The Tor network is essentially an Internet within the Internet. You need special software to visit the pages hidden there, and since sites hosted on that network do not use an IP (Internet Protocol), they are not only uncrawlable by search engines, but it is extremely difficult for law enforcement to track down and prosecute sites there with illegal content.

If you dare to enter this deep domain, the first step is to download the Tor Browser Bundle.


Once you’ve installed the Tor browser, your next task is to find all that hidden content. How do you find hidden websites? Well, think back to the early days of the Internet when there were no magical search engines crawling the net and returning results automatically. There were hundreds of “directories” available where you could find what you were looking for.

That is precisely the case here, with directories known as .onion link lists. The three most common of these – and excellent starting points for your journey into this dark land – are the following (access these links with your Tor browser.

  • TorLinks– A categorized list covering everything from financial services and drugs to warez, media, political and erotic links.
  • The Hidden Wiki– This Wiki page is a frequently updated directory covering all sorts of content like media, books, whistleblower sites and more.
  • Deep Web Links– Lots of valuable links to be found on this directory, with an over-arching theme of freedom of speech.

These are starting points for exploring the darker hidden web of Tor, but they are most certainly not the only places to go. Many of the sites hidden away on the Tor network are provided via word of mouth and through communities of people who are also interested in the same content. Many of this “sharing” takes place on the regular Internet on websites and forums.

Some places to check for onion links thrown out into the public where you may discover them:

  • Reddit /r/onions– A dedicated area devoted to Onion sites.
  • The Hidden Wiki– This site has a frequently updated blog of new onion links, but you’ll also find user-generated comments throughout, where you might also discover interesting onion links.
  • DeepDotWeb– Deep Dot Web is a popular blog that stays on top of not only deep web links and news, but also anything to do with bitcoin, since the two topics and communities are usually tightly intertwined.
  • Pastebin– Search this directory frequently for anonymously posted onion links.
  • Anonbin– Another popular dropping point for anonymously shared onion sites.

Once you’ve installed Tor and you’ve warmed up your taste buds for all of these interesting deep web links, your final mission – if you choose to accept it – is to read the MakeUseOf Tor Guide, and really start exploring this mysterious area of the Internet.

What Are Your Favourite Deep Web Resources?

There are countless other interesting places to explore in the deep web. What are the best research resources you know of?

Author : Ryan Dube

Source : http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/journey-into-the-hidden-web-a-guide-for-new-researchers/

Categorized in Deep Web
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