How to Access the Dark Web
Accessing dark web data is not as easy as accessing data from the open web. While the open web is crawled and indexed by Google, the dark web doesn’t have a similar standard search engine. This is because the sites on the dark web, often with illegal content, wish to remain anonymous and undiscovered. Dark web data feeds are also harder to filter into different subjects without an advanced dark web monitoring technology that offers granular filtering.
The dark web has its own dark web search engines that provide access to dark web data feeds. However, these dark web search engines such as Candle, Torch, Kilos, AHMIA, and Tor66 have a few disadvantages. Coverage of the dark web is incomplete, doesn’t offer granular filtering, and doesn’t provide access to hidden content blocks blocked by registration and paywalls. In other words, it can be challenging to find specific discussions related to a particular type of drug or weapon. It can also be challenging to be sure your dark web search was thorough enough to include the massive amount of sites, marketplaces, files, and networks being populated at an amazing pace. The ability to provide comprehensive, relevant dark web data feeds to customers is critical because the dark web is rapidly expanding.
The vast majority of the dark web, however, is found on the TOR (The Onion Router) network. Sites in the TOR network (with .onion in the URL) are only accessible via the TOR browser. This browser, which allows for anonymous browsing of both the dark and open web, is free and accessible to anyone and available for download on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux. Some individuals use a virtual private network (VPN) for added security, which focuses on privacy. Others use the DuckDuckGo search engine together with the TOR browser, a search engine that does not store any private information at all, like user search history or IP address. The caveat is that the DuckDuckGo search engine only returns searches of the clear or open net, so you’ll still need a dark web search engine to return dark web data.
Commercial dark web monitoring tools like Webhose deliver comprehensive, relevant dark web data feeds to enterprise-level organizations for a wide range of use cases, including digital risk protection, data breach detection and mitigation, early warning of cybersecurity threats, and more. Security agencies and cybersecurity organizations can now use their access to the dark web to monitor actors on dark web forums and marketplaces, identifying actors involved in financial fraud, hacking, terrorist activity, illicit drug, and weapons transactions, and more.
Some of these organizations combine this with their own machine-learning and natural language processing algorithms to automatically discover alerts in real-time, predict future risks and threats, and mitigate current ones. Many also understand that today, especially in the wake of COVID-19, brand monitoring and protection must include dark web monitoring in addition to monitoring social media, blogs, online forums, and discussions, and review sites.