Cannabis Comes Out Top in Deep Web Trawl

Cannabis is the most commonly exchanged product on the Deep Web, according to a major new study of the unindexed web from Trend Micro.

The security giant’s Forward-Looking Threat Research Team (FTR) has been looking at this shadowy world for over two years now to compile the study Below the Surface: Exploring the Deep Web.

It built a Deep Web Analyzer (DeWa) tool specifically for this purpose, which collects URLs from hidden sites, such as those on Tor, and attempts to extract information from them, including page content and links.

Thus far, the tool has collected 38 million events that account for 576,000 URLs, 244,000 of which contain HTML content.

The Deep Web, as defined by Trend Micro, is anything not indexable by search engines – including darknet, Tor and I2P sites; dynamic web pages; blocked sites; unlinked sites; private sites; and ‘non HTML/-contextual/-scripted content’.

The report claimed that the most common product sold on such sites was cannabis (32%) followed by pharmaceuticals like Ritalin and Xanax (21%), MDMA (11%), LSD and Meth (both 5%).

Interestingly, although English was the main language on the Deep Web in terms of domains (62%), Russian came out top (41%) in terms of URLs.

Trend Micro was at pains to point out that not all activity on the Deep Web is nefarious:

“While there are, of course, sites dedicated to drugs and weapons, a huge chunk of Deep Web sites are dedicated to more mundane topics — personal or political blogs, news sites, discussion forums, religious sites, and even radio stations. Just like sites found on the Surface Web, these niche Deep Web sites cater to individuals hoping to talk to like-minded people, albeit anonymously.”

However, the internet security giant also found over 8000 ‘suspicious’ sites, including those selling phishing kits, malware and drive-by-downloads, and marketplaces for the trade of hacking tools and other items.

In addition, a shocking 26% of these suspicious sites were described as ‘child exploitation’ by Trend Micro’s web reputation software.

Also discovered by the firm were numerous services designed to make bitcoin less traceable, money laundering sites, and even alleged assassin websites.

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