Discussions of underground forums can evoke imagery of a city’s shadowy back alleys, populated by faceless figures. Speaking in whispered undertones, they meet one another, collaborate in criminal schemes, and transact contraband and prohibited services.

A visitor to this underworld may hear snippets of conversations and, after some time, unravel some of the mystery. However, with so many anonymous participants in so many forums, our visitor would have trouble identifying the population of this domain:

  • Just how many denizens dwell in the dark web?
  • How active are they?
  • Does the typical actor stay and converse for a while, or do they appear only once and then vanish into the night?


This report analyzes five underground forums (selected due to their high volume of posts, low barrier of entry, and prominence) and investigates their counts of unique actors and their activity.

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