The Top Dark Web Forums in 2023
The deep and dark web has remained a critical arena for cybercriminal activities in 2023. Hiding within these underground corners of the web are forums which are hotspots for the exchange of stolen data, hacking methods, and software vulnerabilities. Attracting both amateur and seasoned hackers, these platforms are essential for cybercrime and thus, closely monitored by law enforcement and security agencies.
The challenge in monitoring these deep and dark web forums lies in their dynamic nature and inherent anonymity. New forums frequently emerge, while others disappear, making tracking a difficult task. The hidden nature of the dark web, focused on user anonymity, further complicates efforts to identify malicious actors.
Despite these obstacles, understanding these forums is vital for organizations to defend against cyberattacks and data breaches. They offer insights into emerging cybercrime trends and potential threats. As the deep and dark web continues to be a hub for illicit cyber activities, studying these forums is crucial for cyber defense.
To help with this task, we’ve listed the most popular hacker forums in 2023.
What are the top forums on the deep and dark web in 2023?
Let’s take a look at the top deep and dark web forums, listed in no particular order.
Launched: June 2023
Main language: English
BreachedForums re-emerged in June 2023, three months after it went offline, as a leading dark web forum. The new site was relaunched by the ShinyHunters hacker group, a known cybercriminal gang who have hacked into Microsoft, NitroPDF, Pixlr, Mathway, Mashable, Bonobos, etc., stealing the data of millions of users in 2020 and 2021.
Those who are familiar with the original BreachForums will immediately notice that the renewed site looks a lot alike, with an almost identical design and structure. However, it has appeared under different domains, including domains on the open web and Tor. It features many of the old stolen databases that the original BreachForums hosted and new data containing databases of compromised or leaked data, documents, and compromised accounts.
BreachedForums has become a hub for data breaches, boasting a “Databases” section with over 900 distinct official datasets, encompassing more than 15 billion records. The forum’s popularity is evident with over 60,000 users and more than 200,000 posts.
The site also features diverse sections such as cracking, marketplace, tutorials, and scripts, catering to a wide range of interests within its community.
Main language: English, Russian
Exploit.in is another notorious dark web forum known for hosting extensive discussions on various cybercriminal activities. It is a hub for topics like social engineering, security vulnerabilities, hacking of social networks, cryptography, privacy and anonymity, and malware programming, with a particular emphasis on sharing exploits and vulnerabilities in computer systems. This focus is reflected in the forum’s name, “Exploit.in”
This forum also operates as a clandestine marketplace, where users trade illegal digital products, including malware, and offer various hacking and carding services.
It’s a highly active forum, hosting over 80,000 active threat actors who have collectively contributed to more than one million posts, exchanging and disseminating information related to hacking.
Main language: Russian
XSS.is is a well-known dark web forum that has been around since at least 2004, making it a veteran among today’s active underground forums. It was originally known as DaMaGeLab but changed its name to XSS in 2018. A leading speculation is that it was the result of the arrest of one of its admins over the operation of the Andromeda botnet.
The XSS.IS forum is a highly professional hacking forum with sections on hacking, corporate access, database leaks, competitive intelligence, and even a key recruiting and PR ground for Ransomware-As-A-Service (RaaS) operations.
Launched: February 2018
Main language: English
Dread is a dark web forum operating on the Tor network, which resembles Reddit in its functionality. Coincidentally or not, it gained prominence in 2018 when Reddit shut down several forums dedicated to discussing darknet markets. Within just three months of its inception, Dread attracted over 12,000 users.
Today, Dread is also noted for the anonymity it offers its users, making it a go-to platform for not just hacking-related topics, but also for drug-related discussions and transactions. It’s recognized as a crucial hub in the dark web community, and some compare it to Reddit. It boasts professional posts on hacking, comprehensive guides on software manipulation and carding, and discussions on illegal drug trade and stolen data exchange.
Dread also serves as a news source for significant events in the dark web, like the closure of major marketplaces.
Main language: English
Blackforums is another known forum in the deep web, which mainly focuses on the illegal exploitation of vulnerabilities, which is also known as “black hat hacking” of applications, software, and websites.
It’s a significantly smaller forum than others on the list, with 3120 members and less than 10,000 posts.
The forum contains sections such as hacking, data leaks from various hacks, coding tips and assistance (tools and guidance) especially when it comes to black hat hacking, and a marketplace where sellers offer illegal goods to potential customers.
It also invites its members to request “jobs” or designed and customized tools and tutorials. The forum contains a lot of database leaks, some are public or are offered for free and others are offered for a fee. The forum contains a lot of “how to” questions regarding illegal web activities in general and more specifically, malicious exploitation of services for personal gain.
What’s next for deep and dark web forums in 2024?
The world of deep and dark web forums is ever-changing with some closing and others emerging. But successful hacker forums will continue to exist, under one name or another, because the need for the resources they provide will remain in place in 2024. With the rise of new technologies, such as generative AI, that can be abused for malicious purposes, we expect to see these forums and cybercriminal discussions and activities continue to rise.
The hacker forums we have mentioned above represent just a fraction of the dark web platforms we at Webz.io monitor. As the frequency of cyber and ransomware incidents continues to rise, monitoring these forums plays an increasingly important role in identifying, preventing, and addressing hacking attempts and data breaches.
Contact us to learn how to protect businesses and organizations with dark web monitoring.