While traditional search engines by definition don’t work for the Dark Web, some sites make it relatively easy to find information about this hidden section of the Internet. Engines that allow you to search for specific darknet markets abound.
Recon is one of the most recent examples of a darknet marketplace search engine. So what do we know?
What is recognition?
Source: The Onion Web
Recon is a tool that users can access to explore multiple darknet markets at the same time. Thus, it is in direct competition with other sites such as Kilos. Instead of visiting or even knowing all these different markets, you can use one place to compare and contrast the products on offer. It also makes finding those markets easier!
Who created Recon?
While we don’t know the true identity of the person (or people) behind Recon, it seems pretty clear that the site is run by “HugBunter”. Presumably this is the same HugBunter behind Fear, the Reddit-style forum where Dark Web users congregate.
Dread made headlines in September 2019 when HugBunter’s dead man’s switch was activated, but in the meantime, someone using the name has returned and Dread is still online. As far as everyone knows, Recon belongs to the same site collection.
How to access Recon?
Recon exists on the Tor network, so you will need to visit the site “reconnydonugup.onion” using the Tor browser.
However, if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, don’t just use a copy of Tor Browser. Make sure you protect yourself properly by using at least a VPN to hide access to Tor from your ISP.
Recommended: 7 Best No Log VPNs in 2020
How does recognition work?
Recon uses several different methods to allow users to search for listings and information across multiple marketplaces. It uses historical market data as part of its research resource, but the most powerful aspect of Recon is its API or Application Programming Interface.
Darknet marketplace owners who want people to find products on their sites through Recon can integrate the API into their site. Recon then receives regular updates from these sites to ensure that the listings users find through Recon are up to date.
This is different from how a shallow search engine works, which crawls the public web looking for information and then lets you search for it. Because dark websites cannot be crawled this way, search engines like Recon are the only real way to quickly discover or search for different websites.
What can you buy at Recon?
Recon doesn’t look fundamentally different from other search tools on the darknet market. In other words, you cannot buy anything directly from Recon. It only shows you the way to another market that has the products you are looking for.
This means that there are many illegal items of all descriptions offered. The most important commodities on the dark web market are drugs, but firearms and fake documents are also popular. If you want to know more about what is being sold on the dark web, check out our article on the subject.
Of course, there are also many intangible products. Information is always a hot commodity, and the Dark Web is a great place to buy and sell it. This may include stolen user information, corporate espionage, or malware. If it’s digital, only the imagination limits the possibilities.
Not everything sold in these hidden markets is illegal. Some of them are not even very interesting, in fact.
Recon displays a wealth of information for each market it lists. Specific information includes:
- Number of registrations
- Market accessibility
- Addresses of market mirrors
- Reviews and ratings
- PGP keys for private communication with vendors and marketplaces
Recon lists marketplaces that are not affiliated with them, but any marketplace owner can presumably claim their profile page with their PGP keys. So when a profile is claimed, everyone can be sure that the real owner made it, despite the known problems with PGP.
Speaking of PGP keys, this is the fastest way to find vendors in Recon. Since they publish all of their public PGP keys so that people can securely contact them, Recon uses those keys for fast lookups.
Therefore, if you already have a PGP key for the provider you need, just paste it into the “Find provider” line.
Must Read: How to Use PGP Encryption for Secure Communications
Recon is here to stay?
While dark web marketplaces are regularly suppressed, these search engines seem to be a bit more trustworthy as they take a small cut after acting strictly as middlemen. Of course, when it comes to illegal goods, the blame always lies with the intermediary.
However, neither buyers nor sellers know the true identity of the people behind Recon. As long as the technical defenses remain in place and none of the people in the loop back down, there is little the authorities can do.
On the other hand, this also means that it is even more risky to use these objects, since when they are supported by the law, they turn into traps instead.
In any case, we can never recommend using the dark web to commit crimes of any kind, but it never hurts to find out what lurks in the darkness of the Internet.