Exploring Gray Web Forums: Analysis and Investigation of Forum-Based Communities in Taiwan

  • Jau-Hwang Wang
  • Tianjun Fu
  • Hong-Ming Lin
  • Hsinchun Chen
Part of the Studies in Computational Intelligence book series (SCI, volume 135)


Our society is in a state of transformation toward a “virtual society.” However, due to the nature of anonymity and less observability, internet activities have become more diverse and obscure. As a result, unscrupulous individuals or criminals may exploit the internet as a channel for their illegal activities to avoid the apprehension by law enforcement officials. This paper examines the “Gray Web Forums” in Taiwan. We study their characteristics and develop an analysis framework for assisting investigations on forum communities. Based on the statistical data collected from online forums, we found that the relationship between a posting and its responses is highly correlated to the forum nature. In addition, hot threads extracted based on posting activity and our proposed metric can be used to assist analysts in identifying illegal or inappropriate contents. Furthermore, a member’s role and his/her activities in a virtual community can be identified by member level analysis. In addition, two schemes based on content analysis were also developed to search for illegal information items in gray forums. The experiment results show that hot threads are correlated to illegal information items, but the retrieval effectiveness can be significantly improved by search schemes based on content analysis.


Forum-based Community Gray Web Forum Forum Analysis & Investigation Crime Lead Discovering Content Analysis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Barlow, J.P.: Crime and puzzlement. Whole Earth Review, 45–57 (1990)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bock, W.: Christmas, Communities, and Cyberspace (2001),
  3. 3.
    Chen, H.: The Terrorism Knowledge Portal: Advanced Methodologies for Collecting and Analyzing Information from the Dark Web and Terrorism Research Resources, Sandia National Laboratories, August 14 (2003)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Donath, J.S.: Inhabiting the Virtual City: The design of social environments for electronic communities. MIT, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dringus, L.P., Ellis, T.: Using Data Mining as a Strategy for Assessing Asynchro-nous Discussion Forums. Computer & Education 45, 141–160 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Elison, W.: Netwar: Studying Rebels on the Internet. The Social Studies 91, 127–131 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Marcella, A.J., Greenfield, R.S.: Cyber Forensics: A Field Manual for Collecting, Examining, and Preserving Evidence of Computer Crimes. Auerbach Publications (2002)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Melbin, M.: Night as Frontier. Free Press, Glencoe (1987)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mena, J.: Investigative Data Mining for Security and Criminal Detection. Butter-worth Heinemann (2003)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Tsfati, Y., Weimann, G.: Terror on the Internet. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 25, 317–332 (2002), CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
    Wang, J.H.: Cyber Forensics – Issues and Approaches. In: Managing Cyber Threats: Issues, Approaches and Challenge. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht (2005)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wang, J.H., et al.: A study of Automatic Search System on Cyber Crimes. Special Research Report to Telecommunication Bureau, Ministry of Traffic and Communication, Taiwan (1999)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Weimann, G.: How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet. Special Report 116, U.S. Institute of Peace (2004),,
  15. 15.
    Wooley, D.R.: Forum Software for the Web: An independent guide to discussion forum & message board software (2006),
  16. 16.
    Zhou, Y., Reid, E., Qin, J., Lai, G., Chen, H.: U.S. Domestic Extremist Groups on the Web: Link and Content Analysis. IEEE Intelligent Systems, Special Issue on Artificial Intelligence for National and Homeland Security 20(5), 44–51 (2005)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jau-Hwang Wang
    • 1
  • Tianjun Fu
    • 2
  • Hong-Ming Lin
    • 1
  • Hsinchun Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Central Police UniversityTaiwan
  2. 2.University of ArizonaUSA

Personalised recommendations