The Underside of the Internet, Just Slightly Off Base

October 11, 2017

Deutsche Welle ran a story about the Dark Web called “Darknet, The Shady Internet.” I found the approach interesting. Let me mention that I am the author of Dark Web Notebook, a guide for law enforcement and intelligence professionals. (Information about the Notebook is at this link.) I don’t want to work pedantically through the write up, pointing out issues I have with some of the assertions. I do want to highlight the conclusion of the article. DW points out that LE and intel professionals have to use methods which seem to be less than elegant. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

So what can police, federal law enforcement officials, secret police and international crime-fighting networks do to combat the darknet? Some tactics are surprisingly old fashioned. One is to purchase an illegal item from a darknet marketplace and then analyze the package and its contents when it comes in the mail. With enough data, police can hone in on the package’s source. Another tactic is to build rapport with the site’s owner, say a drug dealer, and to request a real-life meeting to exchange the goods.

I would point out that there are a number of companies which offer specialized products and services to assist LE and intel professionals with Dark Web investigations. These range from the Google and In-Q-Tel funded Recorded Future to the less well known Terbium Labs. There are other companies as well, and I profile a number of them in Dark Web Notebook.

I am surprised that the DW invested modest effort in its write up. Dark Web content is a tiny fraction of data available online. Nevertheless, as censorship in countries and at such firms as Facebook, Google, and Twitter-type companies increases, the Dark Web will experience some growth despite the hurdles the Dark Web puts in front of users.

I would point out that in the Dark Web Notebook we recount  an anecdote involving a German policeman who explored the Dark Web and found himself caught in a digital bear trap. Thus, knowledge of the sophisticated tools available to LE and intel professionals is important. Leaving these out of an article from a respected “news” organization underscores the need for a bit more attention to detail and context.

Stephen E Arnold, October 11, 2017


One Response to “The Underside of the Internet, Just Slightly Off Base”

  1. Edmond Deras on October 25th, 2017 9:42 am

    Hey there deliah!

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