In 2017 the reference search engine of the Dark Web, Grams (not to be confused with Gram, the cryptocurrency linked to Telegram), stopped being online. Disappeared like this one of the main tools to quickly access the large online black markets (mainly linked to drug trafficking, such as Silk Road 2, Alpha Bay or Hansa). Everything about him was irony: he deliberately copied the look of Google, while his name made a nod to his most searched product (‘Grams’ means ‘grams’ in English).
Its alleged creator, Larry Harmon, was accused two weeks ago of laundering $ 300 million using cryptocurrency. But there are those who believe that, before stumbling (provisionally, at least) with his bones in jail, he himself was a participant in the launch of the successor to Grams; a search engine much more powerful when it comes to traversing the underworld of the network and that, consequently, has adopted the name of ‘Kilo’.
A new meeting point in the dark web
Whether it’s Harmon’s thing or not, the truth is that dark web users have had a new benchmark since November 10 When it comes to searching for their products and, according to the research carried out by the cybersecurity experts at Digital Shadows, in these 4 months Kilos has indexed more platforms and added more search functionalities than Grams ever had.
When we enter the web (making use, for example, of a Brave ‘private window’) and once we pass the initial captcha, a quick glance shows several search fields: the first indicates the search term, but the following allow to indicate minimum and maximum price and the currency to use, select a sort order of results (prices, relevance, ‘supplier’ sales volume, etc.), origin and destination of shipment, as well as filter based on which digital market hosts the offer or to which cryptocurrencies are accepted in the transaction.
Well thought out, Kilos is more like Google Shopping than the web search engine itself. But the cover of Kilos also offers interesting facts about its searchability and user volume. When we entered the data they were the following:
- “Currently we index 555,821 forum posts, 66,327 announcements, 2,846 providers and 247,930 reviews of 7 ‘markets’ and 6 discussion forums “.
- 216,587 searches performed since November 2019.
- 96 users online at that time.
If we look carefully we will also see links to a cryptocurrency exchange platform, to an online chat (very unusual element in this kind of webs) already a small digital library which, among other things, offers texts on the protection of anonymity, the functioning of the drug and cryptocurrency markets, etc.
Harrison Van Riper, Team Leader at Digital Shadows, says search engines “have transformed the way people use the Internet every day. […] and that same transformation is now being observed among cybercriminals“.
“Although it cannot be conclusively assured that Kilos derives directly from Grams or that it is the same administrator who is behind both projects, the initial similarities are striking: the same aesthetics of the popular search engine as well as naming conventions have been maintained. “.
Via | Digital Shadows & Security Magazine