Last updated on 19 January 20217 min read
We have already talked about Kilos and DarkSearch, two Dark Web oriented search engines with different strengths and critical points. From that day, to upset the scene, Recon has arrived, reachable at the onion address reconponydonugup.onion. It is a new engine to search among various Dark Web markets, created by HugBunter, a character well known for being the main administrator of Dread.
The context of reference
Some time ago, in the sections of Reddit, called subreddit, it was possible to find all kinds of information concerning the Dark Web markets. Given the dubious legality of this type of content, the Reddit administrators decided to close and remove these sections. To make up for the lack that had arisen, Dread was born, a portal accessible exclusively via Tor and visually very similar to Reddit, where there are several sections regarding the main Dark Web markets.
The main administrator of the Dread portal calls himself HugBunter and a few days ago he announced the launch of the new Recon search engine. He presented it as the “largest Dark Net Market vendor archive service and multiple marketplace search engine, providing up to date content from the majority of estabilished markets all in one place”.
How is it made?
If we connect to Recon’s onion address, using our trusted Tor Browser, after passing a nice captcha we find ourselves in front of the search engine home screen, extremely simple and intuitive.
We immediately notice that the engine analyzes the data collected for over 23 thousand of vendors, 62 thousand of ads and 1.3 million of reviews.
Using the settings button, to the right of the search bar, we can access the filters, based on the sales platform, the country of origin of the goods sought and the price.
Among the markets currently available, we can find Empire, Cannazon, White House, CannaHome, Versus and Monopoly.
At the top there are also two links, “vendors” and “markets”, which allow us to access other screens, optimized to obtain information and statistics on sellers and sales platforms.
The search screen for sellers is particularly interesting as it allows you to query both nicknames and public PGP keys. In this way you can easily check which platforms a seller is active on. In addition, thanks to searches based on the PGP key, other nicknames used by the same seller could also be identified.
Previously, in another article, we have already talked about how much information can be obtained by knowing only a nickname.
Marketplace-based search is also very useful. It lets you both know which platforms are active at a certain moment and which have ceased to exist. In addition, it collects links and statistics on each platform, useful both for carrying out a survey and for writing detailed reports.
This section is very useful as it also contains a lot of data about markets that can no longer be reached for various reasons. For example, it could be markets whose administrators have made an exit scam or platforms that the police have managed to seize.
How does it work?
Let’s test the search engine with a few keywords. Let’s see what types of results are returned to us simply by looking for the word “cocaine”.
We immediately notice that the results are sorted by relevance. Of course, we can also order them and view them by date or by price. In addition, for each of the products returned, a lot of information is available:
- the title and image of the ad;
- the preview of the description of the goods;
- the nickname of the seller;
- the seller’s reliability score (based on buyers’ feedback);
- the origin of the shipments;
- the platform from which the announcement was taken;
- the price;
- the virtual currencies accepted for payment.
Let’s also try the functionality of search based on sellers. Certainly, research based on the public PGP key will be more interesting, so let’s fly over that based on nicknames. First of all, let’s connect to one of the many Dark Web markets and let’s pick a random seller to test Recon’s search. We have chosen the user registered as “mexconnect” on the White House market.
Select his public PGP key, copy it and paste it into the Recon search box.
We can immediately notice that, thanks to this search method, we managed to combine the seller identified on the White House market with the nickname mexconnect, to additional usernames used on other Dark Web sales platforms.
The historical and statistical data of the markets
The functionality linked to the markets is also quite interesting. For each sales platform there is a lot of information based on the monitoring of the onion services, on the data collected and on the contents of the Dread platform.
In fact, for each market, we can view the following information:
- the indication of the status (active or ceased);
- counting ads and sellers present;
- the average of the reviews published by users on the Dread platform;
- the list of market mirrors, flanked by a green or red indicator relating to market accessibility;
- the latest published reviews du Dread;
- the market uptime (the time the market is reachable compared to the total time);
- the public PGP key used by market administrators for official communications;
- the link to the market’s subdreads.
This feature is very interesting, both for obtaining updated and usually very reliable information on the various sales platforms of the Dark Web, and because many details relating to deceased markets, useful for analysts, researchers, or for counting the volumes of business.
Until a few years ago the Dark Web was a place for a few, many resources could only be identified thanks to “word of mouth” and data collection required developer skills. To date, new services are emerging, aimed in particular at making it easier for inexperienced users to make purchases, but also very useful for investigators who have to move in a context that is still little explored.
We wonder when the search engines will start collecting data from searches made by users and profile their requests or favor one market over another in the results, so that we can also talk about SEO in the Dark Web.
In this context, Dread is starting to assume a decisive role for the diffusion and usability of the Dark Web, as it provides a portal with reliable and updated news, allows everyone to get informed before being subjected to “cheating” and now also allows users to search and compare products between various markets, so that they can find the most convenient offers.