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The Invisible Web

  • Written by Ron Brown

mug brownI was recently asked, “When are you going to run out of tracing material to write about?” As I pondered this question a smile came upon my face, or maybe it was a smirk, and I replied, “Probably never, because the science and art of skip tracing and cyber tracking are constantly changing and advancing with the progress of communication technology. Our ability to trace has always paralleled our ability to communicate.”

In this short missive I would then like to bring you a new tool and technique that has evolved in our industry. It is currently being used by many professional men and women who have chosen the exciting and rewarding vocation of hunting the most dangerous prey on the face of the earth, man.

There has been a lot of talk recently among professional tracers and cyber trackers regarding getting data from the “invisible web.” This is actually not a new tool but there is a newness in its understanding and actual use.

The invisible web is a huge repository of databases most search engines and online directories do not have the capability to access. While the visible web is one you can access via search engines and directories, the information in databases is generally inaccessible to the software spiders and crawlers that create search engine indexes. It is generally thought the invisible web has a volume of content thousands of times larger than the visible web.

Most professional tracers use Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines which usually do not extract all the hidden content in a typical search. These search engines are unable to see hidden content without specialized search parameters and/ or search expertise. The true professional tracer understands that a very special little spider scurries about on the web. These spiders index the addresses of particular data that they discover. Spiders can record the address, but can’t relate the information the page contains due primarily to factors such as technical barriers and owner discretionary choices. Many sites which require a password to enter are not capable of being discovered by search engine spiders.

While the skip guessers may continue to use only the data they find with Google or Yahoo, search engines that only search a small portion of the web, the true professional will embrace this new technology and develop their ability to delve much deeper into the vast repository of data on the invisible web.

By now you should be asking yourself, “How do I get access to this invisible web and how do I make it work for me? You begin with a Starting Point consisting of an open mind and a desire to be the best; a desire to locate people and things which others have given up on after expending their best efforts. You start by building yourself a list of gateways classified by subjects which you will use as the foundation for your tunnel into the invisible web.

I would suggest you start by locating sites which could be classified as mega portals. Mega portals contain links to incredible numbers of links covering every subject known to modern man such as:

• The University of California, Riverside maintains Info- Mine, an incredible resource that at last count included over 100,000 links and access to hundreds, if not thousands, of databases. To utilize this tool simply go to infomine.ucr.edu/ research-services/databases or go to the website (infomine.ucr.edu), hover over Research Services then click Databases.

• The Virtual Library is another excellent source of mega data which I find to be very simple and easy to use, with annotated subject links. To access this go to vlib.org and choose your subject.

The invisible web can open many doors for the professional tracer and increase their chance for success as it offers an incredible amount of data on any and all subjects. Resources on anything you can possibly think of can be found. The links listed in this article barely begin to touch the vast resources you will find available. I would anticipate as time goes on, this resource will only grow larger and contain more useful data for the users.

In the next issue we will provide and explore more sites available on the invisible web. Until then…good luck and good hunting my friends!


Ron Brown is a member of the National Association of Fraud Investigators and the author of “MANHUNT: The Book.” Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..