An Algorithm with Unintended Consequences

September 12, 2017

Some of us who follow developments in AI wondered about this: apparently, the algorithm YouTube tasked with eliminating “extremist content” on its platform goes too far. Business Insider reports, “YouTube’s Crackdown on Extremist Content and ISIS Is Also Hurting Researchers and Journalists.”  It is a good thing there now exist commercial services that can meet the needs of analysts, researchers, and government officials; many of these services are listed in Stephen E Arnold’s Dark Web Notebook.

In this case, the problem is an algorithm that cannot always distinguish between terrorist propaganda and terrorist coverage. Since the site implemented its new steps to combat terrorist content, several legitimate researchers and journalists have protested that their content was caught in the algorithm’s proverbial net and summarily removed; some of it had been available on the site for years. Reporter Rob Price writes

Open-source researcher Eliot Higgins says he has had his old videos about Syria deleted and his account was suspended as the Google-owned video platform attempts to tackle material that supports terrorism. Middle East Eye reports that Syrian opposition news site Orient News was also deleted, as was a video uploaded by one of the publication’s own journalists. ‘YouTube has now suspended my account because of videos of Syria I uploaded 2-3 years ago. Nice anti-ISIS AI you’ve got there, YouTube,’ Higgins tweeted on Saturday. ‘Ironically, by deleting years-old opposition channels YouTube is doing more damage to Syrian history than ISIS could ever hope to achieve.’ In another incident, a video from American journalist Alexa O’Brien’s video that was used in Chelsea Manning’s trial was deleted, according to Middle East Eye.

Higgins, whose account has since been reinstated, has an excellent point—ultimately, tools that destroy important documentation along with propaganda are counter-productive. Yes, algorithms are faster (and cheaper) than human workers. But do we really want to sacrifice first-hand footage of crucial events for the sake of speedy sanitization? There must be a better way.

Cynthia Murrell, September 12, 2017

Short Honk: Recorded Future Write Up Highlights Dark Web Notebook

September 7, 2017

Nice surprise. Recorded Future published a short article in its blog called “Dark Web Explained: Shining a Light on Dark Web Activity.” A happy quack to the wizards at Recorded Future from the Beyond Search team.

Kenny Toth, September 7, 2017

Russia Argues with Encrypted Telegram

August 23, 2017

One reason that the Dark Web flourishes are that if offers people an anonymous, encrypted way to communicate.  Governments dislike encrypted services, especially when they are trying to keep an eye on their citizens.  The Register explains how Russia is unhappy with encrypted messenger service Telegram: “Encrypted Chat App Telegram Warned By Russian Regulator: ‘Comply Or Goodbye.”

One hot argument between governments and their citizens is how much leeway the former has to monitor the latter’s communication.   Russia is one country with a poor history of respecting its people’s privacy.  It currently is very angry with encrypted chat app Telegram.  Communications regulator Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov stated that Telegram is violating Russian legislation because it is not providing any information about its parent company.

Telegram’s parent company only has to complete a questionnaire with information that will be published in the country’s register of service providers.  It is not an attack on encrypted communication.  If the questionnaire remains unanswered, then Telegram will be banned.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov told newswire Reuters a ban would mean Russian government officials will be entrusting their communications to messenger apps written in other countries.

In playing the nationalism card, Durov cited WhatsApp, Viber, Apple and Google as companies who might carry messages from Russian officials and their friends.

He is skeptical that the regulator is mostly cranky about corporate structure.

The communication bureau and Telegram should stop fighting over the petty red tape.  Playing the nationalist card is a good move on Telegram’s part, but why is it so hard to answer a standard questionnaire?  If Russia’s security and government officials lose their home brewed encryption app, would they turn to something not from Mother Russia?  This is yet another example of why people use the Dark Web over regular Web services.

Whitney Grace, August 23, 2017


China Further Alienates Citizens by Banning VPNs

August 1, 2017

China is notorious for its police-state policies, particularly as it applies to any Western news or communication. For years clever Chinese citizens and international businesses located in China have relied on VPNs to evade Chinese firewalls. All that is changing now as China has announced all internet carriers must block VPNs in the next six months.

Bloomberg’s musing on the topic are accurate in their concern for the future of Chinese based companies:

It’s unclear how the new directive may affect multinationals operating within the country, which already have to contend with a Cybersecurity Law that imposes stringent requirements on the transfer of data and may give Beijing unprecedented access to their technology. Companies operating on Chinese soil will be able to employ leased lines to access the international web but must register their usage of such services for the record…

Whether a multinational corporation, a small mom-and-pop venture just getting off the ground, or an individual, the lack of VPNs will disrupt everyday life. Will this power move by the Chinese government usher in a new era of Dark Web usage or will a new lifeline to the world beyond the Great Wall emerge?

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 1, 2017

TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference Info

July 20, 2017

I am giving two talks about the Dark Web at the September 2017 TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference. With the take down of AlphaBay and the attentions Dark Web sources of synthetic drugs are getting in the main stream media, the sessions will be of particular relevance to law enforcement, security, and intelligence professionals. My first talk is a quick start basics lecture. My second presentation focuses on free an and source tools and the commercial services which can flip on the lights in the Dark Web.

The conference has emerged as one of the most important resources for corporate network security professionals, federal, state and local law enforcement digital forensic specialists, and cybersecurity industry leaders from around the world. The purpose is to raise international awareness of developments, teaching, training, responsibilities, and ethics in the field of IT security and digital forensics. The event will feature more than 70 speakers, 60 sessions, 20 new product demonstrations, and 25 sponsors and exhibits. exhibits. For full details and to register, please visit

As a reader of Beyond Search, you qualify for a 30 percent discount. Just use the promotional code DKWB17 when you sign up online.

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2017

Information about Dark Web Notebook

July 11, 2017

An email arrived yesterday saying, “We can’t find the Dark Web Notebook” on Bing, Google, or any other online search system. If you want to locate information about this new book, just navigate to Google and search for

Arnold Dark Web Notebook

Alternatively, you can use these links:

Buy the book:

Table of contents:

The Association of Former Intelligence Officers has a profile of the book on its members-only Web site. Log in to obtain access to book synopsis.

Kenny Toth, July 11, 2017


Stephen E Arnold: Dark Web Use Expected to Increase

June 27, 2017

Author predicts filtering and other restrictions on the open Internet will push more users toward secret encrypted platforms

Despite stepped-up efforts by federal and local law enforcement agencies, the Dark Web and the contraband markets that thrive there will continue to grow in the coming years. That’s the conclusion shared by author and consultant Stephen E Arnold in his new book Dark Web Notebook, a practical guide for law enforcement, intelligence, and corporate security personnel.

Dark Web Notebook Cover 31617

Arnold was a featured speaker this month at the at the Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC, where he explained how the Dark Web operates and how investigators can assume a secret identity and acquire the necessary tools to explore hidden online communities.

In his lectures, Arnold noted that governments in the UK, China, Egypt, and other countries are implementing tighter restrictions on electronic communications while private companies such as Facebook and Google are implementing more content filtering. The result, he said, is that more activities that are normally conducted on the “surface web” are migrating to the encrypted platforms offered by the Dark Web. At the same time, private citizens are adopting apps and other encryption tools to protect their personal privacy.

“It’s like squeezing a sponge or a tube of toothpaste,” Arnold said. “The substance has to go somewhere. The Dark Web will become more attractive to people who want to conduct their affairs in secret and that will make the Dark Web an increasing area of interest to law enforcement, security and intelligence professionals.”

The Dark Web is also flashing on the radar of state and local law enforcement agencies. A June 10 article in the New York Times ( described how police in the resort town of Park City, UT, had to learn about the Dark Web after two 13-year-old boys died after taking a synthetic opioid called “Pinky” that was purchased on the Dark Web.

“This terrible tragedy is an example of how the influence of the Dark web is spreading into small town in the US and around the world. Law enforcement personnel at all levels are going to need to understand how this new environment functions if they hope to protect the citizens in their communities,” Arnold said.

Although much has been written about the Dark Web, Arnold’s book is unique in that it was created specifically for investigators. It presents step-by-step instructions that help investigators safely explore the digital underworld. The book is available as a 250-page digital download for $49 at

In addition to his lectures, Arnold also offers a hands-on tutorial for small groups of qualified participants. In these sessions, participants use a secure computer to create a “legend” identity and explore the Dark We. They also learn how to acquire other digital tools and services including Bitcoin, the digital currency favored by Dark Web vendors.

Arnold will present his lectures and tutorial again at the 2017 Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference September 18-20 in San Antonio. Information about the conference is available at

About the Book

The 250-page book includes a tour of the Dark Web with profiles of vendors and markets, explanations of access tools such as the Tor browser, reviews of services for searching Dark Web content, research resources available on the public Internet, and details about commercial solutions.

Detailed descriptions of each chapter are posted at

The book is available as a digital download for $49 at

About the Author

Stephen E Arnold’s career includes work at Halliburton Nuclear Utility Services and Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He built and sold several stary-up ventures including The Point Internet Service. He and his team built the online system for the Threat Open Intelligence Gateway (TOSIG) for the US government. He is the author of The Google Legacy (2005), Google Version 2 (2007), and Google: The Digital Gutenberg (2009). In 2015, he published CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access. He is a Summa cum laude graduate of Bradley University and he has completed work on his PhD at the University of Illinois.

About ArnoldIT

Arnold Information Technology conducts research into online information and services. Founded by Stephen E Arnold in 1991, the company has provided technology services to organizations worldwide.

Ric Manning, June 27, 2017

HonkinNews for 20 June 2017 Now Available

June 20, 2017

HonkinNews reminds everyone that success may be measured in the size of one’s golden parachute. We report that Yahoot (sorry, I meant, Yahoo) is now Oath with a colon. As we ponder the end of Yahoot, we mention that Yahoot’s former president is leaving the company in a cloud of purple haze with about $250 million. Yahoooo. The Dark Web presentations at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference seemed to be a hit. The two public lectures attracted 310 people. The special hands on session was sold out. We report that the launch of Dark Web Notebook (available at caught some attendees’ attention as well. This week’s program has the details. Concerned that your Big Data or content processing system is an error-generation machine? The solution is editorial controls before one starts crunching. HonkinNews reveals that using the term “data governance” is no substitute for management and planning ahead. What about Palantir? Watch this week’s program to learn that Palantir, once an outsider for some government work, is now an insider. You can find this week’s program at this link.

Kenny Toth, June 20, 2017

Dark Web? Likely to Gain Traction

June 14, 2017

I completed a series of presentations at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference, June 5, 6, and 7. After my two presentations, two attendees spoke with me as I was preparing for my three hour invitation only tutorial on June 7. The two individuals told me that the most surprising point I made was that the Dark Web will become more important.

As we talked about their comment, I learned that after my talks a number of people were discussing the “knowledge gap” I identified in the existing cyber training programs. Specifically, the how to aspect of obtaining information about the Dark Web was a topic of considerable interest.


Stephen E Arnold fields a question about the impact of censorship, filtering, and surveillance on the Dark Web.

However, I learned from these professionals that the stepped up efforts to require Internet companies to perform filtering for hate speech and other information was moving forward in parallel with Theresa May’s call for more stringent content filtering in the UK. Egypt is following suit. Are the actions of Nokia Symbian and the BlackBerry OS smartphones an example of greater controls on WhatsApp?

The conclusion I offered was that activities possible on Surface Web services would force some activities to the Dark Web. As a result, as law enforcement, intelligence, and government efforts increased on Surface Web traffic, services, Web sites, and apps, the importance of the Dark Web would go up.

In my talks I offered this information in the context of squeezing a sponge or tube of toothpaste. The substance has to go elsewhere.

To sum up, the Dark Web is poised to become of more interest to those engaged in law enforcement, security, and intelligence activities.

For more information about the Dark Web, you can navigate to to get information about my handbook designed for professionals working in the LE and intel field. My earlier book about CyberOSINT is described at

Watch for information about my participation in the TechnoSecurity conference in San Antonio, Texas, in September 2017. We are considering an advanced Dark Web session as well as an invitation only training session about creating a legend for a false identity. These sessions are available only to those currently working in US or its allies’ law enforcement and intelligence entities.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2017

Dark Web Notebook Now Available

June 5, 2017

Arnold Information Technology has published Dark Web Notebook: Investigative Tools and Tactics for Law Enforcement, Security, and Intelligence Organizations. The 250-page book provides an investigator with instructions and tips for the safe use of the Dark Web. The book, delivered as a PDF file, costs $49.

Orders and requests for more information be directed to Purchasers must verify that they work for a law enforcement, security, or intelligence organization. Dark Web Notebook is not intended for general distribution due to the sensitive information it contains.

The author is Stephen E Arnold, whose previous books include CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access and Google Version 2.0: The Calculating Predator, among others. Arnold, a former Booz, Allen & Hamilton executive, worked on the US government-wide index and the Threat Open Source Intelligence Gateway.

The Dark Web Notebook was suggested by attendees at Arnold’s Dark Web training sessions, lectures, and webinars. The Notebook provides specific information an investigator or intelligence professional can use to integrate Dark Web information into an operation.

Stephen E Arnold, author of the Dark Web Notebook, said:

“The information in the Dark Web Notebook has been selected and presented to allow an investigator to access the Dark Web quickly and in a way that protects his or her actual identity. In addition to practical information, the book explains how to gather information from the Dark Web. Also included are lists of vendors who provide Dark Web services to government agencies along with descriptions of open source and commercial software tools for gathering and analyzing Dark Web data. Much of the information has never been collected in a single volume written specifically for those engaged in active investigations or operations.”

The book includes a comprehensive table of contents, a glossary of terms and their definitions, and a detailed index.

The book is divided into 13 chapters. These are:

  1. Why write about the Dark Web?
  2. An Introduction to the Dark Web
  3. A Dark Web Tour with profiles of more than a dozen Dark Web sites, their products, and services
  4. Dark Web Questions and Answers
  5. Basic Security
  6. Enhanced Security
  7. Surface Web Resources
  8. Dark Web Search Systems
  9. Hacking the Dark Web
  10. Commercial Solutions
  11. Bitcoin and Variants
  12. Privacy
  13. Outlook

In addition to the Glossary, the annexes include a list of DARPA Memex open source software written to perform specific Dark Web functions, a list of spoofed Dark Web sites operated by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and a list of training resources.

Kenny Toth, June 5, 2017

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