ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.
In spite of shutting down many of the black marketplaces operating on the dark web in 2015, the anonymous network continues to hog the limelight. Additionally, the dark web is now emerging as a legitimate tool for many a purpose. Some publications have compiled a list of websites in the Deep Web/Dark Web.
Read on to find out what was swamped out of the dark web in the past one year.
Silkroad Is Still Making News
Notwithstanding the fact that Silkroad was shut down over a couple of years ago, May 2015 saw the conviction of the Silkroad founder Ross Ulbricht. The Silkroad creator was sentenced to life imprisonment (owing to charges on seven counts that include narcotics conspiracy, computer hacking, and money laundering), though his defense is appealing the conviction decision. The moderators of the Silkroad forum were not spared either. Whereas Peter Nash, the Silkroad forum moderator, has come out of the prison after 18 months, Gary Davis, who was allegedly accused of being a Silkroad administrator bearing the codename “Libertas,” is even now fighting his extradition procedures from Ireland to the US.
The most sensational Silkroad related arrest of the year was that of Roger Thomas Clark, purportedly the right-hand man of Dread Pirate Roberts. Codenamed “Variety Jones,” he was arrested as recently as in December 2015 from Thailand after spotting his presence in a cannabis enthusiast forum. However, in the midst of the arrest drama, he claimed that he had actually wanted to turn himself in to the authorities. He awaits extradition procedures to the US.
Though the original Silkroad is no longer present in the dark web, numerous other black marketplaces have sprung up instead and have continued to sell items that were banned on Silkroad, including stolen data and guns.
Dangerous Weapons Make their Way Out Of the Dark Web
After the shutdown of Silkroad, year 2015 saw the disappearance of dangerous weapons from the Dark Web. The largest black marketplaces, (after Silkroad) Evolution and Agora had listed these kinds of weapons before they stopped operations in the months of March 2015 and August 2015, respectively. Whereas Evolution was not to be seen after an apparent scam, Agora went on a self-declared sabbatical and is yet to come back.
Agora was forced to stop selling guns fearing presence of decoy undercover agents posing as sellers. Other dangerous weapons have since started disappearing from the dark web marketplaces.
The Good Side
Amidst all the negatives about the dark web and Silkroad that made news in the past, there was also some good that emerged out of the use of the Tor anonymous software in 2015. The fact that dark web offered space for a wide range of useful applications was acknowledged when the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) formally labeled the .onion domain in the month of September last year. Both these bodies have recognized the legitimate uses of Tor. This input was provided by Runa Sandvik who is a security researcher at a company responsible for maintenance of the Tor software.
Additional accolades came in Tor’s way when a large amount of data was provided by a hacker using the “SecureDrop” facility of Tor. This application helps sending a large amount of documents to journalists using the Tor anonymity network.
Tor Offers No Foolproof Anonymity
Some more recent incidents involving dark web only went on to reveal that all is not foolproof in the dark web. According to the court, university-based research scientists at the SEI of Carnegie Mellon University had provided identities of dark web users (including Silkroad) to the FBI. Members of the Tor Project also alleged that the FBI paid close to $1 million to the university for the information.
This hacked information provided has been useful in at least two cases, it is claimed. The arrests of an alleged Silkroad 2.0 staff member and that of an alleged pedophile. The hacking of the data also led to the arrest of a couple of Irish drug dealers on dark web. They were sent to prison in December 2015. The SEI is suspected to have attacked Tor last year because of a cancelled conference on the topic. However, the fact that hacking of the Tor software is possible has led to the expectation that many more cases will see the light of day this year.