Deepnet Experts Look For Clues On How Dark Net Sites Were Uncovered

If you want to visit Silk Road 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 Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

Tor LogoThe anonymity that Tor brings had made it very popular with criminals who used it effectively to conduct their businesses online. Tor was a program created to create anonymity to sites online. Tor routes a person surfing in the internet through several computers making the location of sites hidden. Criminal elements have used it effectively with Silk Road been one major site. This was used by drug dealers to transact their drug businesses and avoid the face to face transactions that usually led to gun fights. However, there has been seizure of several high profile sites in the past week. There have also been 17 arrests associated with the sites leading people to wonder how the sites were uncovered.

tor networkDeepnet experts are looking for clues to uncover how the law enforcement agencies were able to decloak these hidden sites. This was even a surprise to the Tor project team. This for now remains hidden and people have to wait for explanation in court where we hope the prosecutors will explain how the people became suspects. However, views from experts claim Tor has not been cracked yet. Dr. Steven Murdoch from the University College in London claims there are still several high profile hidden markets in operation. If they had cracked Tor, they probably could have seized all the hidden markets.

The shutdown of these hidden services was named ‘Operation Onymous’ and closed down 400 pages that were owned by 27 people. Most of these sites engaged in the sale of drugs, stolen credit cards and some illegal paraphernalia. The most high-profile closure was the Silk Road 2.0website majored in selling drugs after the shutdown of the original Silk Road last year.

Possible clues on how the dark net sites were uncovered

Poor operational security

This is one major failing in running websites where owners fail in minor security details. On the Silk Road 2.0 case, it was noted that the use of email address in the site led to the owner been identified. The email address code on the email led officers to Blake Benthall who was running the site.

Bugs in web applications

Elements with a page hidden by Tor can be vulnerable to exploits and bugs. This is just like in the open internet where we have interactive features and video players which could have been quickly coded.

Bitcoin ‘deanonymization’

All those operating illegal sites must have a way through which people can pay for the services or goods offered. Bitcoin is usually the virtual currency that such people use to receive payments. The use of normal payment is much easier to trace than Bitcoins but this does not mean Bitcoin is fully safe. It does not remain anonymous with some recent research showing ways through which Bitcoins can be linked to the user’s location

Denial of service attack (DoS)

This is very theoretical but there are chances that authorities could have used it. In this method, a site is flooded with several visits with the aim of forcing traffic to get into Tor owned computers which are usually monitored by the authorities.

It will always be difficult to know how exactly the authorities were able to decloak these sites and it is very unlikely that they will share the information. This is because they could want to use it again to arrest further criminal elements using hidden sites like the emergence of Silk Road 3.0.

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Comcast Supposedly Monitoring Tor Users And Banning Them

Click here to find the Silkroad URL and know how to get to the Silkroad 2.0

comcastAccording to at least two Comcast users, agents of the company recently contacted them and told them to quit using Tor — or face a ban from Comcast’s service. The reason, according to these users, Tor provides access to illegal sites such as Silkroad. Shortly after these reports surfaced, however, Comcast issued a statement denying they had threatened anyone for using Tor or Silkroad and saying Tor users were welcome at the company.

In other words, though it’s not clear whether Comcast went after Tor or Silkroad users in the past, it’s unlikely they will try and go after Tor or Silkroad users in the future.

The controversy began when someone posted in the Reddit /r/darknetmarkets forum (where people discuss markets like Silkroad) claiming they’d received a call from a Comcast agent. The agent supposedly told this person Tor was an illegal service, using it was against the Comcast Terms of Service, and provided access to illegal markets like Silkroad.

Tor Browser

The user asked to speak with the manager and was told the manager wasn’t available, so he called Comcast back the following day. An agent named Kelly roughly confirmed the policy, saying people who try to cover their tracks are usually doing things that aren’t legal — again, assuming that all Tor users are Silkroad users.

A second report of similar treatment by Comcast agents was submitted directly to the Deep Dot Web darkweb news site, which covers Silkroad and similar markets.

comcastThe implication of this policy is that Comcast actively monitors its users’ online activity to check whether they are following the Terms of Service. The Tor Project has previously listed Comcast as a “bad ISP” which is not Tor-friendly, though not because of any specific anti-Tor or anti- Silkroad policies — Tor’s objection is that the Comcast Acceptable Use policy forbids running proxies or servers.

Comcast, on the other hand, states they do not monitor specific accounts unless they are presented with a court order. Even then, according to Comcast, they would attempt to notify the affected user so they could hire a lawyer and deal directly with the judge.

Deep Dot Web notes that Comcast’s behavior in the “Dread Pirate Roberts” Silkroad case is strongly at odds with this claim. Comcast also actively monitors the internet usage of its customers as part of Comcast’s Six Strikes program.

TorThis program has nothing to do with Tor or Silkroad, but rather focuses on copyright infringement. If Comcast catches its customers pirating copyrighted material, they receive an email from Comcast telling them to stop doing this. After a total of six such infractions their account may be terminated.

Comcast’s Statement

Two days after the Deep Dot Web report hit the internet; Comcast released a statement from its VP of Internet Services, Jason Livingood, denying many of the claims made by Deep Dot Web. According to Livingood, the idea that the company has “declared war” on Tor or Silkroad” is “totally inaccurate.”

SilkRoad JailLivingood states that Comcast is not asking users to discontinue using the Tor browser software or any other browser. The company has no policy against itor any other specific software, and customers can visit any website or use any app they like with their Comcast service.

Furthermore, Livingood’s statement claims that Comcast does not monitor customer software or web usage. The “chat room” evidence from the Deep Dot Web story is, in his eyes, not accurate. Instead, Comcast only investigates or discloses information about customer accounts when presented with a valid court order.

What’s more, the Deep Dot Web claim that Comcast terminates customers under the Six Strikes program is (according to Livingood) false — he calls it a voluntary, educational, and non-punitive program. He does not, however, deny monitoring internet activity under this program.

Click here to find the Silkroad URL and know how to get to the Silkroad 2.0

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