Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative Announces Winners of Global Dark Web Hackathon

The Darkwebathon is a 5-day event that attracted 330 registrants & generated thousands of actionable intelligence reports for law enforcement agencies

The Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII) the organization that combats human trafficking through increasing awareness, facilitating intelligence integration & technology advancement, and encourages strategic data collaboration, today announced the winners of the inaugural annual Darkwebathon. The five-day virtual event, co-hosted by CipherTrace, attracted more than 330 registrants and generated thousands of reports sharing the ultimate goal of creating actionable intelligence so that law enforcement agencies can be equipped with real data to make arrests.

How it All Went Down
Fifty-eight teams with varying backgrounds and skillsets were asked to create intelligence reports using open-source intelligence, blockchain forensics, and dark web intelligence, focusing on multiple objectives and other challenges. Maltego graphs, cryptocurrency, hashes, onion sites, and other data. In the Cryptocurrency Challenge alone, we had a total of 493 submissions. The challenge was based on submitting the wallet, transaction and attribution information of identifiable senders/receivers that were involved in a range of illegal activity on the dark web. 

The hash challenge had a significant amount of more submissions, yielding 2,898 hashes submitted. The challenge consisted of locating Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) distribution sites on the dark web and submitting the hashes that were linked to that site. Hades currently has 30,000+ dark web sites that are linked to CSAM and are validated by screenshots (without pictures rendered), vanity URLs, titles, website description, and meta keywords content keywords that are found on the onion sites. Post-event analysis in 3rd party databases has determined that much of this content was not reported previously and could likely be fresh CSAM content from newly discovered material.

While Team 26 took first place for the number of points earned based on their intelligence report and placement in the hash & cryptocurrency challenges, Brian H. took the coveted MVP of the event award. Many other teams and individuals shared over $100,000 in prizes that were generously donated by ManchesterCF, OSINT Combine, ADF Solutions, Maltego, TCAE, Hunchly, and TWELVE Program. Aaron Kahler, Founder and CEO of ATII said “We are humbled by the outpouring of support by sponsors and participants that enable us to uphold our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) priorities and to achieve our UN Sustainable Development Goals (5, 8, and 16) by combating human trafficking across the globe.”

2nd Place Overall: Team 16

3rd Place Overall: Team 6

4th Place Overall: Team 5

MVP Hash: Team 6 (@The_BayouBeast8)

MVP Hash: Team 6 (@Sophia.Petrillo)

MVP Hash: Team 6 (@jodie russell)

MVP Crypto: Team 3 (@Noel Varghese)

MVP Onion: Team 55 (@Samantha (ILF))

MVP Report: Team 6 (@Gabe Longboy)

MVP Maltego: Team 5 (@aleksander)

MVP Maltego: (@The_BayouBeast8)

MVP Maltego: (@s0merset7)

MVP Event: (@Brian Hempstead)

MVP Judge: (@David Layman) 

A panel of judges evaluated submissions based on accurate and verified intelligence reports. The participant’s level of expertise ranged from students studying at universities to experts with years of experience in the field and spanning nearly 40 countries. They were from various industries including military, law enforcement, private investigators, compliance, cyber security, and university students. The Darkwebathon is not only an opportunity for students to prepare themselves for realistic cyber investigations but also, a way for all participants to connect and network with industry experts who want to see them succeed. ATII is so proud to foster the talent and help them garner technological opportunities to prepare, or enhance, them for promising careers. All of the administrative staff at ATII shared this same vision of building and growing the event for a way to make a positive social impact in the world.

The event organizer and CISO of ATII, Larry Cameron stated in his event introduction on day 1, “ATII has made considerable effort to provide a platform for law enforcement, investigators, compliance professionals and threat intelligence companies that will not expose them to harmful and illegal CSAM content while allowing for several layers of validation relating to illicit activities. We are excited to not only allow the public to assist with the investigations but to follow-up on the actionable intelligence after the event and to grow our network.”

ATII would like to express a big thank you to our other sponsors, SiberX, Siren, MinervaAI, the University of New Haven, and everyone who helped make Darkwebathon 2021 a smashing success. We are truly grateful to have so many individuals who share our passion for combatting human trafficking, child exploitation, and other illicit online activities that exploit our most vulnerable. A testimonial from one of the participants, Detective (Warrant Officer) Renato Trabucco from Arma dei Carabinieri – ROS Sez. A/C Brescia, currently working as Digital Forensics Examiner and OSINT Intelligence Analyst said it best: “I would like to express my best endorsement to the Darkwebathon experience: it was such an incredible event rich with training, international sponsorship participation and I have gained a lot of valuable insights on how to perform investigation included but not limited to the Darkweb. I was honoured to help the community investigating with all the leads provided, in particular crypto address, IP, and email revealing a collection of heinous crimes such as CSAM.”

Darkwebathon: Rally for Actionable Intelligence

Participant Testimonials

“The Darkwebathon was a great event! Unlike most CTFs, we worked with real human trafficking-related data collected from the dark web. Thanks to the generous sponsors, we worked with some of the best tools in the industry. ATII and their Hades software have made it possible for civilians to be able to take up the fight against human trafficking without exposure to the child and sexual exploitation often associated with this crime, and the trauma it frequently leaves on those dealing with these crimes. While the event was gamified, we all understood that our efforts were making a direct contribution to this international battle. We validated image hashes associated with known dark web child exploitation sites and possibly identified new victims in the process. We dove into the Bitcoin blockchain to identify criminal transactions that could be subject to legal processes by law enforcement. We also helped to improve the Hades software by identifying unknown Onion sites, tagging Bitcoin addresses associated with Dark Markets, and investigating and providing intelligence reports on criminal activity we found. In the end, we gained a great appreciation of the amount of work that still needs to be done.”
– Brian H

I had the honor to participate in the first week-long darkwebathon organized via the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative, which brought together talented professionals and volunteers for actionable intelligence to combat human trafficking. 

Provided with leads such as IP address, image hashes and blockchain transactions, our team was able to stand out by producing several reports that helped identifying people related to child-sexual abuse and illicit negotiations. 

Albeit without being personally exposed to sensitive materials, it’s been a complex and heartfelt challenge, where I developed insightful skills and empowered my awareness about that piece of web which nobody would like to come across, but everybody can help fight.  

Thanks to all the highly motivated personnel I’ve encountered for contributing by sharing their massive knowledge, and to the ATII Team with sponsors, for the inspiring support and unique tools (like Project Hades) they provided throughout the event, aimed at protecting society and the most vulnerable. 

Alessandro O.

“This year ATII (Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative) started amazing darkwebathon competition worldwide: 400+ Participants participated to fight against various criminal entities (CSAM, Drugs, Weapons etc) together with the help of various tools & services.

ATII launched  their own “Project Hades” Dark Web Monitoring tool during competition. It helped everyone to find out the connections & linked the entities to track these criminals. I have used various dark web tools in the past but “Project Hades” is unique among them. This tool has an amazing large dataset with various selectors, crypto addresses, graphs, screenshots, Image hashes data set etc, which helped our team in CSAM investigation.

Our team started investigation with single email id and image hash data set, it was 2 days challenge with Intelligence Report and our team (#Team16) has done amazing job by finding various connections between threat actors by using “Project Hades” Dataset along with sponsored tools: #Maltego & #CipherTrace that gave additional information to us about threat actors. By combination of this toolset, we completed our Intelligence Report. We learned so many things during this event by learning and doing hands-on practice on sponsored tools. Thanks to all sponsored partners.

It was my honor to be part of this amazing event, Our team placed at 2nd position in this dark webathon. Thank you ATII, Judges, Sponsors & their team for sponsoring such an amazing event.”


“I had always been passionate about Investigations and the Darkwebathon hosted by ATII gave me an opportunity to do just that. It enabled me to learn and apply new skills, pushing me to go out of my comfort zone. 

The Darkwebathon event spanned across 5 days and we were given access to specialized training and software for the event. We were also provided with multiple data sets at the end of the training, such as  IP Addresses, Bitcoin Addresses, SSH Keys, Emails, E-tags, FavIcon, Image Hashes, and conducted an investigation that spanned 2 days. Our team split up and worked on distinct data sets so that we could cover more, working with BTC addresses, Image Hashes and Email addresses led to 3 distinct intelligence reports that covered BTC scams, Individuals affiliated with criminal connections and individuals involved with CSAM. 

Many thanks to my teammates: Jess Ben, Allison Owen, Kimberly Newhard for being communicative and supportive over the event.”

– Swapnil H.

“Our team was provided thousands of selectors including Bitcoin addresses, emails, and IP addresses and conducted an investigation across five days that led to 4 detailed intelligence reports including potential human trafficking, CSAM, and Terrorism leads.

Starting out with only IP Addresses and e-mails, we conducted a 2-day investigation that led to 5 intelligence reports that helped identify people who were related to CSAM consumption or other illegal things.

Although the topic was complicated and devastating, I had the opportunity to get outside of my comfort zone and to learn so many things during the event. My team, SabadOSINT, got the honor of being shortlisted. Thanks Tiby K.Karthika G., and Robert C. for letting me be a part of it; it is during this kind of event where you learn about the importance of having a strong support system.

– Valeria S.