DARPAâs Deepweb Search Engine Just Got a Lot Smarter
In 2014, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencyâor DARPAâannounced a groundbreaking program for internet searches. DARPA developed the Memex Program to search the internet, including hidden services, and âany public domain content.â The program started, though, as a tool for discovering human trafficking. Now, according to VentureBeat, DARPA just boosted their glorified search engine.
On December 1, 2016, IST Researchâa human security companyâacquired Rescue Forensics (RF). Rescue Forensics, in their words, delivered âactionable human trafficking intelligenceâ to agencies worldwide. IST worked with DARPA since 2012, IST founder Ryan Paterson said. IST, Rescue Forensics, and DARPAâs Memex will now hunt for human traffickers with their combined internet skill set.
IST Researchâs success majorly originated from their proprietary Pulse Platform. The Pulse Platformâs particular method of action remains classified, for the most part. IST Research summarized the platform in the Pulse section of the groupâs website. âPulse collects, analyzes, and visualizes both online data and data collected directly from populations of interest,â the site explained.
Rescue Forensics specializes in intelligence gathering, predictive analytics, and forensic data analysis. Paterson said that IST Research and Rescue Forensics collaborated on numerous occasions. RF most recently contributed to the conviction of two Baltimore men for conspiring to commit sex trafficking with a minor.
Law enforcement did not only contract IST Research on a case-by-case basis; they worked on Memex at a fundamental level. According to the press release:
Two years ago, IST Research was selected to lead two critical technical areas of the DARPA Memex program, with the mission to develop next generation of search technologies and revolutionize the discovery, organization, and presentation of search results. The San Francisco District Attorneyâs office has employed Memex technology to explore vast amounts of data and identify critical connections within phone records, online listings and other information buried on the dark web. (IST Research – PR.com)
Paterson told VentureBeat that the study into human trafficking began with looking at simple advertisements on sites like Craigslist. As time went on, human traffickers became harder to detect. IST Research started the development of their Pulse Platform in conjunction with the Department of Defense. The platform is still partially sponsored, monetarily, by the Department of Defense.
DARPA spokesperson Rick Weiss told VentureBeat that deepweb networks offering human trafficking are often closely related to those âregionally destabilizingâ networks. Specifically, those that provide weapons and drugs. On the clearnet, human traffickers use forums, advertisements, and even job listings. Memex, in conjunction with IST and RF, maintains configurable interfaces for tracking criminals across the globe. RF adds another element to the global assistance sector; the company exists worldwide.
In conclusion, DARPAâs Memex crawls the darknet and deepweb for child pornography and human trafficking. Memex utilizes data provided by IST Research to improve the algorithms and follow leads. IST data, when combined with Memex, can trace entire networks based on misspellings, different phrases, and often encoded messages. Rescue Forensics brings more intelligence gathering, predictive analytics, and forensic data examination. IST will incorporate the RF information with the Pulse Platform, and DARPA will use the Pulse Platform with Memex.