The success of the Silk Road has prompted the growth of many Dark Web marketplaces. This exponential growth has provided criminal enterprises with new outlets to sell illicit items. Thus, the Dark Web has generated great interest from academics and governments who have sought to unveil the identities of participants in these highly lucrative, yet illegal, marketplaces. Traditional Web scraping methodologies and investigative techniques have proven to be inept at unmasking these marketplace participants. This research provides an analytical framework for automating Dark Web scraping and analysis with free tools found on the World Wide Web. Using a case study marketplace, we successfully tested a Web crawler, developed using AppleScript, to retrieve the account information for thousands of vendors and their respective marketplace listings. This paper clearly details why AppleScript was the most viable and efficient method for scraping Dark Web marketplaces. The results from our case study validate the efficacy of our proposed analytical framework, which has relevance for academics studying this growing phenomenon and for investigators examining criminal activity on the Dark Web.
Hayes, D. R., Cappa, F., & Cardon, J. (2018). A framework for more effective dark web marketplace investigations. Information (Switzerland), 9(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/info9080186