Uncovering Tor: An Examination of the Network Structure

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (Masters)
Final version published as: 

Monk, Bryan & Mitchell, Julianna & Frank, Richard & Davies, Garth. (2018). Uncovering Tor: An Examination of the Network Structure. Security and Communication Networks. 2018. 1-12. DOI: 10.1155/2018/4231326.

Date created: 
2018-05-09
Abstract: 

The dark web is a concealed portion of the Internet that can only be accessed through specialized software. Although multiple dark web technologies exist, with a common trait of using encryption to enforce anonymity, the Tor network remains the most prominent dark web network. To visit websites on the network, the user must use a heavily modified Firefox browser. The use of encryption to achieve anonymity poses a significant challenge for law enforcement that wishes to monitor users and content for illicit activity. This study examines Tor by focusing on the network structures created between websites via hyperlinks. Examining hyperlinks can provide insight into how virtual communities form on a network. We explore traditional social disorganization principles as a basis to draw comparisons between these virtual communities and real-life crime-prone neighborhoods. Automated data collection techniques were used to leverage the interconnected nature of domains on Tor. Using social network analysis, website hyperlinks are examined and core sites are identified. The analysis shows that these core sites form a significant portion of all connections made on the network with a density of 0.132. This core serves a critical function and has implications for detecting how users connect on Tor.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
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