Webhose.io Helping Law Enforcement Identify Crypto Criminals

February 20, 2018

Ran Geva is a serial entrepreneur with over two decades of hands-on experience in software development and leadership positions. After founding Omgili, a search engine for online discussions, and co-founding Buzzilla, one of the top web monitoring and analysis companies in Israel, he went on to co-found Webhose.io, an advanced data crawling API service, where he serves as CEO and lead technologist.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What is the dark web?

RAN GEVA: The dark web is content on the Internet that exists behind the TOR network, an overlay network of proxies that anonymize the servers hosting the content.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the most popular cryptocurrencies on the dark web?

RAN GEVA: Bitcoin is still the most popular cryptocurrency being used on the dark web.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: How is the dark web impacting cybersecurity as a whole?

RAN GEVA: The dark web is one of the venues that criminals use to anonymously exchange information, creating a natural avenue for marketplaces and forums where people hire hackers, or buy and sell sensitive vulnerabilities that hackers have found. The dark web makes spreading sensitive information easier.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What tools do you use to identify anonymous criminals?

RAN GEVA: Webhose is a data crawling API service. As a company, we deal with the task of collecting and structuring data so that companies can leverage the insights within. It is ultimately our clients, leveraging the content we provide them, who identify illegal activity, and use it to unveil the criminals.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Your company has been assisting law enforcement in identifying crypto criminals in the dark web. Can you give us an example of a success story?

RAN GEVA: I can’t share too much information, however, one example is monitoring specific users or criminal activities and then either alerting the victim (pending attack, sensitive information was leaked), or trying to lure a criminal to follow a link on the visible web, or matching information found on the dark web to information found on the visible web. For example, if a criminal posted a social network ID on the dark web, or used a fixed bitcoin address, the data posted can correlate to an identifiable set of information on the Internet.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Can the law enforcement ever stamp out the dark web?

RAN GEVA: I don’t think so. It’s a distributed network designed to stand against governments and authorities. Additionally, the dark web as an entity isn’t necessarily a bad idea – it just so happens that it is often used by bad actors.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the benefits of your product for companies?

RAN GEVA: We focus on what we do best – collecting data – so that our clients can focus on what they do best. Data collection, especially from the dark web, is very difficult for multiple reasons, whether discovering new sources, or actually crawling them, as the network, it is extremely slow, and sources often go down, not to mention the difficulties associated with penetrating password protected information. Our technology collects the data, cleans and structures it, making it easily accessible via a simple API for our clients to consume. Our clients don’t have the bandwidth or the time to create crawlers of this nature, so we provide them with the data they need to continue with their work, whether that is law enforcement tracking criminals, AI companies training their artificial intelligence systems, and so on…

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What is the vision for the future?

RAN GEVA: We aim to be the Google of the dark web. We want to make Webhose.io known for its simplicity and ability to provide excellent coverage with minimum latency for content otherwise almost impossible to discover. We will continue to improve our structuring of the dark web, and hope to enable the discoverability of cybersecurity related objects and entities, making our data feed an invaluable source for law enforcement agencies, and cybersecurity companies alike.

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