Conducting a Dark Web Investigation

Whether for drug dealing, malware distribution or other illicit activities, criminals turn to the dark web when they want to stay hidden. As such, it’s important for investigators to understand how to conduct a dark web investigation.


While exhaustive OSINT research is essential, researchers are prone to human error that can reveal their own identities. Videris’ secure ecosystem streamlines the process, enabling investigators to map connections across surface, deep and dark data sources without leaving TOR behind.


The deep web is comprised of pages that are inaccessible to search engines because they don’t contain visible links. This hidden web is like the iceberg beneath the surface of the ocean and represents about 90% of all websites. While some deep web content is legitimate, other pages offer dangerous activity and criminalities. For example, some people access Tor sites to bypass restrictions and download pirated music or movies. Others use this hidden web to illegally obtain prescription drugs, e-cigarettes and weapons.


The dark web’s shadowy realm requires specialized technologies and digital forensics skills to investigate. From decrypting messages to understanding cryptocurrency transactions and tracing elusive digital footprints, effective dark web investigation reveals hidden criminal activities and threats, bolsters cybersecurity and creates a safer online environment.

The dark Internet allows criminals to hide and communicate with each other while operating with impunity. Cybercriminals use this anonymity to carry out illegal activities including ransomware schemes, identity theft, extortion and money laundering. These activities are typically carried out using TOR and other cryptography tools to ensure that the cyberattacks remain untraceable and unstoppable.

In addition to enabling cyber intelligence teams to track and identify potential attackers, the dark web also helps them uncover stolen or leaked data from cyber attacks. By integrating this information into their OSINT workflows, they can quickly and accurately detect attacks and prevent security breaches.

Using the Dark Web can help organizations and law enforcement agencies proactively implement security measures, patch vulnerabilities and improve risk assessment protocols. It can also be used to identify and investigate potential threats from insiders. For example, a recent incident in which the Monopoly Market was taken down by Europol and partners demonstrated how collaboration and international cooperation can dismantle cybercriminal networks.

To get the most out of your Dark Web monitoring, choose a solution that offers a variety of search methods and private data storage. SL Professional from Skurio is an all-in-one OSINT solution that lets investigators access and analyze data from the clear and dark web, illicit Telegram channels and more.


A key to success in tackling dark web criminals lies in understanding the methods used to mask identities. These include encrypting communications and using obfuscating software. The resulting anonymity is invaluable to those who wish to conceal their activities from the authorities and protect themselves from harm or retaliation.

In the late 1990s, two research organizations in the US Department of Defense drove efforts to develop an encrypted and anonymized network that would protect the communication of US spies. This secret network would not be known or accessible to ordinary Internet surfers and is now referred to as the Dark Web.

This portion of the Internet includes sites that require a password or subscription to access, such as academic journals and private databases. It also contains illicit content such as paedophile websites, illegally traded information and weapons. In addition, this layer of the Internet hosts all websites that cannot be located by standard search engines – like a fishing boat trying to reach websites beneath the surface of an ocean.

While the surface web is small compared to its deep and dark counterparts, OSINT (open source intelligence) investigators can leverage publicly available names and identifiers to kickstart their investigations. For example, the use of the same username on a public forum or YouTube can help investigators map connections. Likewise, a common address may be used by multiple people to purchase items on a dark web marketplace.


The internet is more than what we see: cybercriminals are hiding colossal amounts of information on the Dark Web, which has become a hub for paedophiles, hackers, and criminals. If your sensitive data has been stolen and posted on the Dark Web, your identity could be compromised, leaving you at risk of phishing and malware attacks.

This hidden portion of the internet is not indexed by standard search engines and requires special software to access it. Users who use the Tor browser can communicate anonymously by bouncing their data through a series of encrypted servers, obfuscating IP addresses and other identifying information. This makes it difficult to trace the activity of users on the deep web.

Despite its limitations, the surface web remains a powerful tool for OSINT investigations, allowing investigators to trace publicly visible identifiers and connections. This information can be used to kickstart an investigation and uncover the path of a threat. However, the surface web’s limited searchability makes it easy for investigators to hit a wall at some point.

Performing OSINT investigations without the right tools can be a time-consuming and cumbersome process. Deep web investigation tools can help streamline the investigation process by providing comprehensive and reliable information from a variety of open source data sources. For example, Social Links collects massive volumes of information from public sources like social media, Dark Web marketplaces, and messaging apps to provide cybersecurity professionals with the visibility they need to protect their business.