Discovered by an Italian research firm named We Are Segment, the vulnerability lies in Firefox, which also affects the Tor browser since the privacy service which permits users to browse across the web anonymously utilizes Firefox in its base.
Commonly known as TorMoil, the Tor browser vulnerability affects Linux and MacOS users, but surprisingly not for Windows.
With respect to the privacy and security of Tor users, it is not yet clear to what extent the effects cover.
We Are Segment security experts privately reported this vulnerability to the Tor browser developers at the end of October.
In return, the developers immediately deployed an exclusive emergency upgrade version of Tor by the name Tor version 7.0.9 for Linux and Mac users.
There’s also an updated version for the MacOS and Linux alpha channels.
In reference to a blog post which was published by We Are Segment, TorMoil is a result of a Firefox problem in typical “file://” URLs.
According to the blog post, TorMoil is activated at the movement when a user clicks on any link that begins with the file:// address, rather than the more widely-used https:// addresses.
The security advisory further went on to state that because of a Firefox error in the processing of typical file:// URLs in either system, there is a window that can cause users’ IP addresses to be leaked.
Once any assigned user (using either a Linux system or a MacOS) accesses a precisely designed webpage, it is possible for the operating system to directly link to the remote host, completely ignoring the Tor browser.
After the discovery and subsequent report, The Tor Project has now developed a temporary solution to prevent the vulnerability from leaking the actual IP address.
According to the developers, this new release is merely a short-term solution that can stop the release of IP addresses as caused by the file:// vulnerability.
The Tor Project went on to confirm that this problem is only with MacOS or Linux-based systems.
Systems running on Window-based Tor browser versions, the sandboxed-Tor-browser and Tails in alpha do not face this problem.
According to the Tor project, there is no evidence which indicates that the TorMoil vulnerability has been exploited by malicious individuals or hackers with a motive of obtaining private information from Tor users such as their IP address.
Nonetheless, the deficiency in evidence is no proof or assurance that the errors within the Tor browser setup have not been actively exploited by malicious individuals.
Security Tip: Use a VPN with Tor
Although they are different in numerous ways, both the Tor browser network and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) utilize encrypted proxy connections so as to conceal user information.
The wonderful thing is that both Tor and VPN can be utilized together so as to offer an added level of security.
A combination of both software programs can help users properly avoid a number of the shortcomings that come with employing the Tor browser by itself.
As virtually everybody is probably aware, the drugs trade has not always been connected to the internet and even today only a small portion of the global market is located online.
As a matter of fact, what is today considered as illegal drugs were probably used as a medicine or a diet supplement some 50 years ago.
It was not until recently that many substances were deemed dangerous to human health and psyche to the point where their possession was punishable by law.
The other side of the story that is more probably is that governments declared the drugs illegal for their own gain and to serve the agenda of multinational drug corporations.
As with every product where there is demand, there will always be suppliers. The trading of drugs has become a lawless business and as such it attracted a lot of danger with it.
Faced with such a situation a community of like-minded people who believed in responsible and controlled use of drugs appeared.
The number one problem they had on their hands in order to talk about and buy drugs online was organizing a safe environment for communication since what they discussed about could land them a fair amount of prison time.
Enter Tor and hidden services on the Deep Web. It did not take a long time for such a community to accept the anonymous nature of Tor as the greatest asset in the battle to preserve their identity.
At first, various forums began to sprout, and it was soon evident that not only people with good intentions were visiting them.
Since there was not a centralized system to buy drugs online and protect the customers from scamming suppliers, many people refrained from using Darknet Markets as their go-to source of drugs.
What many consider a revolution regarding their dream to buy drugs online began in 2011 with the founding of Silk Road. Silk Road was not the first attempt for a centralized marketplace for illegal products (including drugs) and services, but it soon proved to be the most stable one.
It lasted for more than two years until it attracted too much attention of international anti-drug law forces which shut it down in late 2013.
The following years saw a lot of instability on Darknet, as many marketplaces raced to fill in a spot left behind by Silk Road and after some time there are a few strong contenders to the title.
As of today, there are numerous marketplaces of different sizes and philosophies where one can buy drugs online, and it is safe to say that the online drugs trade is only going to grow as the time and technology progress.
The Current State of Darknet Marketplaces
As of recently, there seems to be a sort of a temporary stability on Darknet as there are no prominent new marketplaces opening and the giants currently at the top of Darknet drugs trade are not facing issues.
There are quite a few marketplaces currently open on Darknet where one can buy drugs online, but five of them take up the biggest share in online drug trafficking.
With the shutdown of Agora marketplace, AlphaBay has managed to become and stay the largest marketplace specializing in selling drugs.
This marketplace is known for their many features which help users increase their privacy, protect them from scammers (although scamming is still a burning issue) and increase the comfort of use.
It is important to note that AlphaBay seems to be under constant criticism since its secondary focus is carding and credit card information trade.
The second largest place one can buy drugs online is the Darknet marketplace Silk Road 3.0. This marketplace has seen a lot of criticism from the general public as trying to cash out on the name, but it has managed to prove over time that it was a legitimately safe and reliable place to buy drugs online.
It has steadily increased in size since its opening and it has reached the point where it has over 30 thousand listings offered by some of the most reputable vendors on Darknet.
Following behind Silk Road 3.0, when it comes to size and number of products to choose from, is the Dream Market.
Dream Market is one of the oldest marketplaces where one can buy drugs online, and it has been around longer than most currently popular hidden services.
This should be taken as a strong sign of quality and integrity.
While not as big as Silk Road 3.0 or AlphaBay, many people prefer it thanks to its clean design and ease of use.
Valhalla and Outlaw markets can also be considered senior residents of Darknet, but their volume is quite a bit lower than that of AlphaBay, Silk Road 3 and Dream Market.
This should not be considered as a detriment, as many big vendors from before mentioned marketplaces have profiles set up on different marketplaces.
Valhalla was until recently a Finnish-only marketplace, and they have since expanded into an international business.
To commemorate this, they have changed their name from Silkkitie to Valhalla in order to appeal to the broader audience.
Given its Finnish roots, it should not come as a surprise that most of its community is based in Finland, but the international vendors are increasingly showing interest in this marketplace and are starting to open up profiles.
Outlaw, on the other hand, has been an international marketplace for the entirety of its existence, and the community present there stands as the proof of that.
Outlaw is widely considered one of the most secure places to buy drugs online, despite its design not being too pleasing to the eye.
Luckily, Outlaw admins are announcing a rework of the site design but are stating that user security is their primary concern while design takes a distant second place.
The last on the list of top Darknet drugs sources and the newest addition to the market is the Hansa marketplace.
Despite it being a relatively new marketplace, it received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Darknet community.
While there are a significantly lower number of vendors compared to other top marketplaces, it still manages to attract the attention of many customers mainly due to their security policy.
There are a few well-known and established vendors on Hansa which only serves to increase the amount of people returning to buy drugs online. And despite an increasing traffic, the reviews it receives are hardly ever negative.
Buying Prescription Drugs Online
Aside from being used by people to buy illicit drugs online, the Darknet marketplaces have allowed their users to have an easy access to prescription drugs.
It has recently become evident that large pharmaceutical companies are becoming more and more focused on profit without much care for any form of ethic conduct.
This coupled with the fact that many drugs are becoming harder to acquire due to them being classified as “easy to abuse” and the average person looking to buy some painkillers for their toothache is faced with extortionate prices if they are looking to stay within the bounds of the law.
It is for this reason that many vendors and even whole marketplaces who were used to selling drugs online, have switched their business model to prescription drugs trade.
While the prices are still not on the lower side of things, prescription drugs online are much more affordable and easier to acquire then buying them in a typical pharmacy in the US, since they do not require frequent visits to the doctor.
Safety Measures When Ordering on Darknet Marketplaces
The first, most obvious and unavoidable thing one will have to use to get access to Darknet marketplaces is a Tor browser. There is no other way to access hidden services or buy drugs online without using Tor.
That being said, Tor in itself is not perfect software, even more so since it started to attract the attention of anti-drug law enforcements.
Another thing to note is that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is always aware of your Tor usage which can be used against us in the worst case scenario.
It is for this reason that the use of a good VPN is highly advised, some would say even mandatory.
What “good” means when it comes to VPNs is whether they keep logs of their user’s activities, what payment method is allowed when using their services and which country are they situated in.
The third layer of protection one should consider using if they want to buy drugs online is Tails OS. Tails is a Debian-based Linux distribution created with the sole purpose of protecting its user’s identity.
When using Tails, it is advised that one boots it from the USB, as it opens the possibility of quickly getting rid of any data tied to the online purchase of drugs in extreme scenarios.
All that is needed is a 4GB or larger USB stick on which a Tails .iso is burned.
This covers most of the technical measures one should take a note off, but there are other things that need to be taken care of to ensure one’s safety in order to buy drugs online.
First and foremost, it is mandatory that we do a thorough research on the vendor when we decide to buy drugs online.
If we fail to do so, best case scenario is getting a bad product or getting scammed, while the worst case scenario can even be running into an undercover law enforcement officer.
Even when you do your homework on various vendors, it is still advisable to get a chemical test kit when ordering from an untested vendor.
Even respected vendors can have a bad batch of drugs and testing it beforehand can save us from some awful experiences.
While many different countries have different views on the use of drugs, in almost any country possession of substances that are deemed as illegal drugs by the law enforcement or an attempt to buy drugs online will get you a prison sentence and a monetary fine.
A standard penalty for possession of class A drugs in the UK (MDMA, Cocaine, Heroine, etc.) usually gets the sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
In case the court decides that the defendant had the intention of distributing said drugs, the punishment is a lifetime in prison and a monetary fine of indefinite value.
As far as US federal law goes, the prison sentence is always the penalty for drug possession. The duration of the prison sentence varies depending on the substance in question, the amount of drugs and whether the offense was a first one on the defendant’s record.
For example, possession of any none-cocaine-based drugs in any amount will yield a fine of at least $1000 USD and a prison sentence of up to 1 year.
In case the court determines that there was an intent of distribution of said drugs, the term of imprisonment can reach up to a lifetime in prison depending on the amount found in possession.
Asian countries are the strictest when it comes to drug laws, and almost any amount of any illegal drugs will be penalized by a minimum of 10 years in prison and the death penalty has been used in drug cases.
Drug Rehabilitation and Harm Reduction
The one exceedingly prominent good side when someone looks into how to buy drugs online is the accessibility to the community.
There are numerous forums that help people stay safe during drug use and even offer medical and harm reduction advice.
Couple this with the fact that the purity of drugs on Darknet is generally much higher than purity of drugs found on the streets and it becomes clear how much the Darknet community helps in harm reduction tied to the use of drugs.
There are even tips on how one can help themselves stop using drugs which are often backed up by personal experiences and even medical research.
The use of drugs has come a long way from movie-like scenes of shady deals on the streets or bloody gang conflicts, ever since it has become evident how easy it is to buy drugs online.
While the above mentioned are still very present, the drug trade is starting to make a shift to the virtual realm, mainly because it offers a more secure channel for distribution and an incredibly wider market.
Another reason to buy drugs online is the ease of marketing and accessibility to community offered by various anonymity measures.
These factors cannot even be taken into consideration when thinking about the traditional face-to-face way of selling and this is why people will continue to prefer to buy drugs online.
Buyers and sellers of illicit substances remained anonymous through utilizing Tor-hidden marketplaces such as the original Silk Road.
The drug trade in Finland has significantly moved a large part online, just like how the drug situation has evolved in various parts of the globe.
One Finnish charity aims to extend its operations into the dark web, in the light of helping people by providing addiction support and prevention.
With the help of IT specialists, the A-Clinic Foundation has now found its way into the Tor hidden network.
Tackling Addiction with Harm Reduction
Finnish media reports of the non-profit’s plan to launch a project dubbed “Muunto” which means “transformation.”
The A-Clinic registered charity founded back in 1955, offering treatment and rehab services for substance abuse prevention and expert services for other psychosocial problems, publicly announced plans to carry out this program for two years.
The foundation is has been working on finding up-to-date methods of making their services available to drug users.
Their harm reduction initiative offers anonymous contact and confidential e-services to Tor users to receive help from their team of experts on addiction.
The non-governmental organization currently has over 800 employees who abide by the guiding principles of respect for human dignity, tolerance, responsibility, and confidentiality.
A-Clinic tells how their presence is in no way paternalistic nor keeping watch.
Program coordinator Miina Kajos add that they try and approach people as equals as much as possible, and the outcome is desirable so far with very positive interactions from Tor users.
Their primary aim is to gain understanding directly from those who buy online, and from the drug dealers who sell there.
Successful contact would greatly help them identify patterns of drug abuse and effectively come up with ways of addressing it.
They are also exploring the viability of Finland’s first ever anonymous psychoactive substance laboratory testing service.
The harm reduction service follows the footsteps of the popular Dr. X. It’s been unraveled that Ross Ulbricht paid this doctor $500 per week to provide medical advice to users, even if this meant telling a person to ultimately quit using drugs.
Who’s Doctor X?
Dr. X came to be known beyond his popularity on the Silk Road for the services he offered.
Unlike almost everybody else, DoctorX revealed his real identity on a Silk Road forum right from the start since early 2013 and started giving free professional advice to drug users since then.
Doctor X, as he called himself, is Spanish Physician Dr. Fernando Caudevilla.
He explicitly expressed his wishes to contribute to the Silk Road forum and even referenced his CV in a link to his personal website.
A user wrote on the Silk Road 2.0 forum how amazing Dr. X is and that he’s a gift with invaluable knowledge he shares and how he never comes with any judgment.
Counting five months of purely volunteer work, Caudevilla eventually let Dread Pirate Roberts know that time commitment in keeping up with both the Silk Road forum and users has become too great to handle.
This was when the Silk Road creator offered him the generous weekly paycheck, an offer which Caudevilla accepted and took in bitcoin. They had bigger plans too such as a drug-testing project to ensure only safe and non-toxic substances were sold on Silk Road.
What presiding U.S. District Court Judge handling the Silk Road case, Katherine Forrest, has called Dr. X – someone who’s “particularly despicable” and “irresponsible,” is up to people to contemplate upon.
How did the Feds manage to unmask Tor browser users, when The Onion Router is one tricky anonymity tool, layer after layer of relays? What steps did the FBI take to finally seize the Silk Road underground drug market and arrest the Tor hidden Silk Road site’s founder? It now makes sense- it was an insider’s job.
An eye for an eye. Tor for Tor.
Chris Soghoian, technologist from ACLU stated that the U.S. government is hacking itself with one arm funding the Tor Project, and the other tasked to hack it.
Well, hiring someone with firsthand experience was the best way to go to beat Tor, and the person found fit for the job is cybersecurity expert and former Tor core developer Matthew J. Edman. The closure of darknet marketplace Silk Road alone has produced a series of dark web drug busts and nabs throughout the globe until today.
As Tor Project Software Developer
The nonprofit organization confirmed that Edman worked with them until the year 2009, and was subsequently employed by an FBI defense contractor to develop an anti-Tor malware.
In 2008, Matthew Edman joined the Tor Project same day as Jacob Appelbaum, hacker and journalist known for his work on WikiLeaks and as one of Edward Snowden’s staunchest supporter.
The developer was then working on Vidalia, a software designed to deliver an easier to use Tor by presenting people with a simplified interface. Tor dropped it in 2013 and replaced the Vidalia with other tools aimed towards improving user experience.
As Anti-Tor Malware Developer
In 2012, Edman functioned as senior cybersecurity engineer for Mitre Corporation and was assigned to the Remote Operations Unit of the FBI. This internal team catered to the development or purchase of exploits and hacking tools for the purpose if spying on potential targets.
He then became part of Operation Torpedo, built against 3 Tor hidden child pornography sites within the dark web. The malware he came up with, dubbed Torsploit has rendered at least 25 individuals de-anonymized and netted a total of 19 convictions.
Cornhusker: Unmasking Tor Users
Edman, together with Steven A. Smith, an FBI Special Agent, developed and took to customize, test, configure, and deploy the Cornhusker or Torsploit while at Mitre.
The malware aided the bureau by allowing agents to deanonymize Tor users with its primary task to gather identifying information. Torsploit has then been wielded in a number of investigations by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
FBI agents packed it inside a Flash file placed on each of the Operation Torpedo sites. The Cornhusker exploited Flash vulnerabilities whenever a Tor user had it enabled in order to reveal actual IP address being used, setting aside the Tor browser’s privacy protection and anonymity. The information is then sent to FBI servers along with a timestamp.
Court documents state that the Cornhusker has been stopped and FBI moved on to other malware and newer techniques meant to target a wider scope on Tor users.
Collaboration with the FBI Continues
Besides working on the aforementioned Operation Torpedo, Edman had a lion’s share in the federal agency’s shut down of Silk Road and conviction of its creator Ross Ulbricht.
He played a significant role, from tracking $13.4 million bitcoins in transactions which previously took place at the Silk Road marketplace, to tracing Ulbricht’s laptop that lead the FBI to him on October 2013 which brought an end to the Silk Road dark path.
Edman worked at FTI Consulting as senior director during this time covering the Silk Road investigation, and is currently a Berkeley Research Group key executive.
A 28 years old man working for Toyota was served a suspended sentence following the interception of the drugs bought by him from a darknet marketplace at the Heathrow Airport in London, according to reports. The name of the Toyota worker is Adam Yates and he belongs to Derby. The court was informed that he purportedly bought drugs online from Silk Road, an online black market that is currently not operational, and sent it to a lady named Leah.
Baz Bhattia, who is defending Yates, said that he bought ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine, but the character of his client was positive and good previously. He added that Yates started dealing in drugs only after a previous relationship broke down.
The border agency launched an investigation after they intercepted a package that contained ecstasy tablets in February 2014. The package was addressed to Adam Yates. According to Judge Robert Egbuna, intelligence information and verification of text messages available on Yates’ phone showed that he was dealing in drugs with more than one person.
At the time of the first hearing, Yates who hails from Arran Close in Sinfin City, pleaded guilty of possessing drugs with the intention of supplying ecstasy (MMDA) during the period December 2011 to August 2014, proposing to supply cocaine during the period March 2013 to June 2014 and offering to provide the anesthetic drug class B ketamine in June 2014.
On 13 April 2016, Yates was sentenced to a two-year term in prison. A different judge suspended his sentence for a period of two years after they came to know that Yates had turned around his life since he was arrested in 2014. According to Recorder Ciaran Rankin, the background to his arrest in February 2014 is that the package in his name intercepted at the Heathrow Airport contained as many as 50 ecstasy tablets in it.
Rankin also added that when the police interviewed him, Yates answered saying “no comments” to all of the questions asked by the police. However, a mobile phone and the computer that were seized brought to light the fact that he had been dealing in drugs for a considerable amount of time during the period between December 2011 and August 2014.
Additionally, the Recorder said that he has read references saying that Yates is now a reliable and trustworthy and that he has no records of previous convictions. He also referred to the letter from Yates wherein he states that he is disappointed with his own actions.
Silk Road is only one among the many marketplaces on the dark web. Many criminals actively participate in activities on the sites like Silk Road, which includes, but is not limited to, the sale of drugs as well as weapons. Silk Road shut down by the federal authorities in October 2013 and its founder is currently serving a life term in jail. Silk Road was operated on the Tor network as a hidden service, which enabled users to browse incognito without being monitoring by authorities.
Steve Holme, drugs expert in Derbyshire police department, said that even though Silk Road has been closed down, there are more than 70 other sites around the world operating on the Tor network that offer services similar to that was being offered by Silk Road.
Mr. Bhattia said, sitting at the court of Southern Derbyshire Magistrate, during Yate’s sentencing hearing at the Derby Crown Court that his case is an unusual one and that the set of circumstances are also unusual. He also added that there is evidence to show that his client has completely turned around his life from 2014 onwards. He also noted that Yates’ temporary job has now become his permanent job and that he is now paying a mortgage.
During the sentencing, it was also ordered that Yates should carry out unpaid work for 200 hours along with his suspended sentence. Additionally, Yates will also have to present during the procedure of crime hearing scheduled for July 20. During this time, the police may recover the money that he received as part of his drug dealings.
If you thought the Silk Road ended with the trial of Ross William Ulbricht then you are definitely wrong. Even after the arrest of Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” it was soon to be established that during the investigation into the infamous black market site, the Silk Road, two US feds Carl Force and Shaun Bridges used their position to extort and steal bitcoins. Apart from that, Force illegally signed a $240,000 contract with the 20th century Fox to make a movie about the Silk Road investigation. Unfortunately for the two, they got busted and the cop responsible for their busting is none other than William Frentzen. It is due to this achievement and experience into busting the rogue feds that Frentzen was invited to be among the list of expert speakers at the next Blockchain & Bitcoin Africa Conference which is going to be held on the 3-4 of March 2016 in Johannesburg. This will be a two day event focused on cryptocurrency.
William Frentzen, a United States Prosecutor played an important role as part of the prosecution team that put former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges safely behind bars. Bridges, a former Secret Service agent was found guilty of money laundering and obstruction of justice. He used his position to steal thousands of bitcoins while still investigating illegal drug and other contraband activities on the Silk Road market. He did not stop there but went ahead and moved the stolen bitcoins into an account at an online digital currency exchange based in Japan. After sometime, Bridge liquidated the bitcoins into US$820,000 and transferred the funds to a personal investment account in the US.
Frentzen also featured among the prosecutors against Carl Force who pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, obstruction to justice and money-laundering. Force who was a former DEA agent stole more than $700,000 in digital currency bitcoin. He also secretly solicited payment from the Silk Road founder for information about the US investigation. During the Silk Road investigation, Force posed as a drug dealer with connections to hit-men using the alias Nob. He was tasked with the duty of communicating with Ross, who was the man who created the Silk Road and ran it till his ultimate arrest in 2013.
Force managed to convince Ulbricht who went by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts to pay him $50,000 in bitcoin by pretending he had information about the investigation in August 2013. Even though he reported the discussion to the DEA, he falsely claimed that no payments were made while he secretly diverted the funds to a personal account. He also went ahead without using the authorities’ knowledge and used another online moniker French Maid and offered Ulbricht information on the investigation for an amount totaling to $98,000 in bitcoin. Among the other crimes that he committed included investing in a company that brokered bitcoin and also served as a chief compliance officer while still with the DEA.
The Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts” was arrested in 2013 and later sentenced to life in prison following his earlier convictions on seven charges related to conspiracy, money laundering and narcotics.
The MC of this year’s second annual Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference will be Ian Merrington who is the CEO of the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative. The other nine speakers during the event will include experts from around the world to host the different talks with the main speaker for the event to be announced on a later day.
During the event, delegates will get the opportunity to get the knowledge of William Frentzen and other experts on the panel. His main topic of discussion will be the challenges posed to law enforcement by certain digital currencies and topics of mutual concern between the industry and the government. His schedule is at 14:45-15:30. Some of the other hot topics of discussion during the event will include: the banks of the future; how Bitcoin can help build the next generation of financial services; the potential for bitcoin as an unregulated currency in Africa and Blockchain is the Future: Blockchain Innovation and helping developing nations with land titles and government transparency. The event will adjourn on the 4th of March 2016at 17:00.
The aftermath of Silk Road was that the Tor project and the Bitcoin were specifically used for illegal activities. Some people have even gone ahead to dismiss Bitcoin as a criminal tool while Tor as a tool used in the dark world of hackers to commit criminal activities. However, this was not the case when the two were discovered. Tor was originally designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory for the primary purpose of protecting government communications online. As for Bitcoin, it is a digital currency invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. It was meant to cover exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system and most importantly was the fact that it was meant to be decentralized such that no institution controlled it.
When building Silk Road, getting the drugs was the easy part but the hardest part was discovering a way to sell the drugs online without being discovered by the authorities and this is how the site’s creator decided to settle for the Tor software. This was going to guarantee his invisibility in the web. This also allowed websites to be set under similar curtain of obscurity.
The second tool that came in handy was Bitcoin. With Tor alone, any customer could visit site and buy what they want without being tracked. However, the creator realized that some customer would want to pay for the drugs without having to send money through the mail. Bitcoin was the best option since the blockchain ledger on Bitcoin would indicate that the coins are moving but the recipient’s bitcoin address and the name will still remain anonymous on either end. Hence, the people involved in the trade will still remain unknown.
This is how the two ended up being the main tool used in Silk Road to carry out the trade of illegal drugs hence tarnishing their purpose.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.
For most people, the dark web is a place of intrigue and mystery. It is where the villains and shady dealers of the Internet congregate, a place wherein the trade of the illicit and the illegal is the main order of the day… every day. Stolen credit cards, fake documents, dangerous drugs, weapons, murderers-for-hire, and pornography of unspeakable magnitude – all of these can be found with just one click away.
It’s easy to see why the “dark web” has gotten such an infamous reputation as it has right now. For one thing, most of the things mentioned above are somewhat true. The Silk Road was a prominent marketplace on this network that leaned on such kind of illegal trade. Silk Road was eventually shuttered down by the FBI after its founder, Ross Ulbricht (Dread Pirate Roberts), was caught.
Accessing Dark Web Content and Marketplaces like the Silk Road
In a nutshell, the dark web is a network of websites and online content that require special browsing software to access. As such, the websites on the network are inaccessible to “normal” search engines like Google and Bing. Dark web content can’t also be viewed through normal browsers. It’s basically a no-holds barred, free-for-all version of the internet that most people use. There are no regulations to be followed, no censorship, and no surveillance to be worried about (especially if one is particularly careful about how he/ she browse dark web content).
One kind of service that allows people access to dark web content is the Tor (The Onion Router) Network. What this network does is scramble a user’s IP address over a series of “relays” all over the world, thus making everything untraceable. Should one want to browse the Silk Road and other illicit marketplaces online, user’s Internet traffic and IP address will be passed through these relays for so many times, that it is nearly impossible to trace the traffic back to the user.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.
Not a part of the surface web, Deep Web is the vast section of the Internet that is not accessible using regular search engines, it become more well-known in 2013 when Silk Road was seized. Of some the strange things about it, here are 5 things you may not know about the Deep Web.
1. The Deep Web is Enormous
It is so large that it’s almost impossible to determine the exact number of the pages, or to provide a detailed imagery of things. In fact, the known Internet access makes up only about 10-15% of the total. This page does list a few thousand links.
2. It is Extremely Dynamic
Based on the rise and fall of markets and services, the URLs that are running today may not be available tomorrow or may be found elsewhere. The Deep Web is a lot more dynamic than the regular web, having frequently changing names and address schemes.
3. Accessed By Special Means
Access to the Deep Web can only be made through some special means, such as the Tor browser. Initially created for providing users with normal anonymous Internet usage, Tor is now used by activists and journalists to cross surveillance systems and censorships of their nations.
4. It’s A Secret Haven
It often plays the role of a safe place for sensitive information. Journalists use it as a highly accurate source of news that’s rare to find on the regular web. Numerous personal blogs, discussion forums and some radio stations also operate on the deep web.
5. It’s a match made in the world of malwares
It offers a command-and-control infrastructure for malware due to the hidden nature of websites and services like 12P and TOR. CryptoLocker is one of the malwares that encrypts the personal documents of an individual and redirects them to a website which requires them to pay in order to get access to those files.
Launched in 2011, Silk Road became the largest and most popular online black market for illegal sale-purchase of drugs. The site was shut down by the FBI in 2013 and arrested its creator, Ross Ubricht. On 2015, the mastermind behind Silk Road was sentenced to life in prison for creating and operating the Silk Road site.
If you want to visit Silkroad 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silkroad 2.0. Silkroad 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.
With the take down of Silkroad 2.0, it has made many Tor users worried as to whether the anonymizing service Tor was compromised. Whenever a Tor hidden service is taken off the internet, it brings up speculation as to whether the take down was made possible via vulnerability in Tor or poor operations security (OPSEC). This in turn has caused concerns to arise with many users worried about whether the browsing system is a safe place to continue private communications away from the authority’s prying eyes.
In response of these concerns, which were heightened more-so in 2014, Tor Project’s Roger Dingledine and Jacob Appelbaum wanted to reassure users that Tor was not compromised during the Silkroad takedown operation. In a statement released it was said:
“The authorities want to scare you into making you believe that Tor doesn’t work properly when in fact it really does, and that is a problem for them.”
During the Chaos Communication Congress, both Dingledine and Appelbaum wanted to reassure Tor users that the service was not compromised by explaining how Silkroad 2.0 was taken down. With inside knowledge and help from law enforcement personnel, Dingledine was able to let users know the details of the taken down.
“From what I was told, apparently a Silkroad 2.0 guy had written his name down somewhere, and the authorities found out, brought him in, and questioned him. Once the interrogation started the man started naming names. Apparently there were a total of 16 names and the authorities were about to arrest all those people, along with collecting their computers. After this, authorities sent out a press release saying they were successful in their Tor attack.”
In other words, Dingledine and Appelbaum still state that Tor wasn’t compromised in anyway during the Silkroad 2.0 takedown. That in fact, that incident was actually caused by one person’s mistake which caused repercussions. Overall Dingledine and Appelbaum have said the Tor is still and will continue to be a safe haven for private communication.