The Top 5 Dark Web Forums

The Top 5 Dark Web Forums

What is a dark web forum, and how are they different from dark web marketplaces? Why is it important for them to be monitored by law enforcement and security agencies?

A dark web forum is a platform where users can freely discuss matters connected to illicit goods or services like drug trafficking, child pornography, hacking, data leaks, racist and extremist content, and more. These forums offer users different types of memberships such as VIP, Premium, or Moderator. Since active forum users are often wanted by law enforcement or security agencies, monitoring them offers useful information to stop these cyber criminals in their tracks.

Marketplaces, on the other hand, are sites where different vendors offer different kinds of products for sale. For instance, dark web marketplaces have vendors that offer illicit drugs, compromised accounts, databases, credit cards, and more. Users on dark web marketplaces fall into one of two categories: Vendors who sell the product and buyers who buy the product. Since money is transferred through the platform, marketplaces always carry the risk of an exit scam where the admins steal money from the buyers. Dark web forums, on the other hand, tend to be more stable since they do not offer goods and services through a platform.

Webz.io’s cyber team has identified the top five forums based on the following categories: language, size of the user base, product category, and the year it was founded.

  • Created: March 2015
  • Main Language: English
  • Statistics: 475K members
  • Topics of Interest: Database sharing and cracking

RaidForums is a well-known dark web forum that gained media attention from its high-profile mega leaks. The database advertises exclusive database breaches and leaks with an active marketplace forum for selling these leaks.

The site has over a thousand new members and over 4,000 daily posts (including threads and comments on previous posts). As of the time of publication of this post, over 2.5 million posts have been published in the forum.

Click here to read more about Raidforums.

  • Created: February 2018
  • Main Language: English 
  • Statistics: 15K members (as of mid-2018) 
  • Topics of Interest: New marketplaces, hot trends, drug vendors, and more

Often referred to as a Reddit-style forum, the Dread forum is a TOR-based platform where you can post, comment, and share information in various different communities without fear of censorship.

The main admin of Dread forum, u/Hugbunter/, has stated that they do not intend to offer paid membership at any point. The forum, which has over 500 posts per day and 700 sub-dreads, is known to feature in-depth guides to manufacturing illegal drugs, sell stolen data, and announce major marketplace closures.

The forum is thought to have emerged after Reddit banned a number of subreddits related to darknet market discussions (e.g. r/darknetmarkets). This allowed Dread forum to grow a large user base more quickly than many other darknet forums.

  • Created: 2015
  • Main Language: English 
  • Statistics: 3.6M members 
  • Topics of Interest: Leaks, hacking

The Nulled.to forum was put in the media spotlight when its database containing information including PayPal email addresses, passwords, purchase records, and invoices were leaked in 2016. Law enforcement took advantage of the leak to track hackers and cybercriminal users from the site. Nulled is one of the largest known forums for various types of illicit content, ranging from leaks to pentesting and money-making scams. The forum includes sections for both VIP and premium members only.

Read more about Nulled in this blog post.

  • Created: October 2003
  • Main Language: English 
  • Statistics: 22M unique monthly guests 
  • Topics of Interest: Harassment, attacks against other websites and internet users, posting of illegal content, threats of violence, misogyny, and racism

Originally a forum focused on anime, a Japanese style of film and television animation, 4chan grew to also include adult content. 4chan offers greater anonymity than other dark web forums in that users can post without a username by leaving the name of that field blank. Posts also disappear after a set period of time, making it impossible to be found by other users or law enforcement agencies.

As a result, 4chan has gained extensive media attention for being a source of cyberbullying, child pornography, harassment, threats of violence, and more.

Read more about 4Chan in our blog post.

  • Created: September 2018
  • Main Language: Russian
  • Statistics: 26K members 
  • Topics of Interest: Malware exploits, vulnerabilities, carding, access sales, and credential databases

XSS is a rebrand of the Russian-language dark web forum previously known as DamageLab after its admin was arrested. With 217K posts in total and about 120 per day, the forum is well known in the cybercriminal scene and features discussions on illicit topics, mostly related to hacking and financial fraud. The forum has additional sections and threads that are hidden and can only be accessed through paid membership for a premium account.

Identifying the Latest Forums to Stop Criminals in their Tracks 

These dark web forums are just a few of the thousands of forums we here at Webz.io include in our dark web data coverage. As a leading force in web data from the deep, dark and open web, it’s our mission to deliver customers the most relevant, up-to-the-minute data possible.

Want to learn more about the sources we cover from the open and dark web? Contact one of our data experts to learn more today!

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