For immediate release

Increased fragmentation of ‘dark Web’ poses great security challenge, say Chertoff and Simon in new paper

Waterloo, CanadaFebruary 17, 2015It would not be surprising to see the dark Web’s criminal underbelly become more fragmented, and therefore more complicated to investigate given wide-spread online surveillance by states and the recent arrests of cybercriminals. This is according to a new working paper issued by the Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG).

The Impact of the Dark Web on Internet Governance and Cyber Security is authored by former US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Tobby Simon, president of the India-based Synergia Foundation.

The new report was recently presented at the GCIG meeting that took place from February 14-15 in London, United Kingdom. The GCIG is a two-year initiative launched by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Chatham House. Chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, the commission will produce a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

In the new report, Chertoff and Simon say “in order to formulate comprehensive strategies and policies for governing the Internet, it is important to consider insights on its farthest reaches — the deep Web and, more importantly, the dark Web.”

The authors acknowledge that “anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse…due to concerns about political or economic retribution.” But the dark Web, a subset of the massive deep Web, has allowed for anonymous cybercriminals to take part in a range illegal activity. As an example, the authors point out that “the dark Web and terrorists seem to complement each other — the latter need an anonymous network that is readily available yet generally inaccessible.”

“While the dark Web may lack the broad appeal that is available on the surface Web, the hidden ecosystem is conducive for propaganda, recruitment, financing and planning, which relates to our original understanding of the dark Web as an unregulated space,” the authors say.

“Providing evidence showing that the dark Web has turned into a major platform for global terrorism and criminal activities is crucial in order for the necessary tools to be developed for monitoring all parts of the Internet,” according to Chertoff and Simon. They recommend the following efforts to monitor the dark Web:

  • mapping the hidden services directory by deploying nodes in the DHT;
  • customer data monitoring by looking for connections to non-standard domains;
  • social site monitoring to spot message exchanges containing new Dark Web domains;
  • hidden service monitoring of new sites for ongoing or later analysis;
  • semantic analysis to track future illegal activities and malicious actors;
  • marketplace profiling to gather information about sellers, users and the kinds of good exchanged.

The Impact of the Dark Web on Internet Governance and Cyber Security is No. 6 in the Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series. For more information on the Global Commission on Internet Governance, including its twenty-nine commissioners and thirty-six research advisers, please visit: Follow the commission on Twitter @OurInternetGCIG.


Michael Chertoff, chairman and co-founder of the Chertoff Group and senior of counsel, Covington & Burling LLP, was secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. Previously, he was a US Court of Appeals judge and chief of the US Department of Justice Criminal Division. He is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard Law School and College. He is a commissioner with the Global Commission on Internet Governance.

Tobby Simon is president of The Synergia Foundation, an applied research think tank that works closely with academia, industry and polity to establish impactful solutions in the areas of geo-economics and geo-security. Simon is a commissioner at the Global Commission for Internet Governance and an advisory board member of the Centre for New American Security. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and a research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore, India.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is based in London. Chatham House’s mission is to be a world-leading source of independent analysis, informed debate and influential ideas on how to build a prosperous and secure world for all. The institute: engages governments, the private sector, civil society and its members in open debates and confidential discussions about significant developments in international affairs; produces independent and rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities; and offers new ideas to decision-makers and -shapers on how these could best be tackled from the near- to the long-term. For more information, please visit