Tag Archives: Agora

List of Hidden Marketplaces (Tor & I2P)

Silk Road 2.0

Silk Road 2.0

Silk Road 2.0 Url:  silkroad6ownowfk.onion
Forum Url: silkroad5v7dywlc.onion
Sub reddit URL:  http://www.reddit.com/r/SilkRoad/ & http://www.reddit.com/r/SilkRoadTwo (this one is very new and not so active yet)
Note: Good luck.

Continue reading List of Hidden Marketplaces (Tor & I2P)

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Global Web Crackdown Arrests 17, Seizes Hundreds Of Dark Net Domains

Photo: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

When “Operation Onymous” first came to light yesterday, it looked like a targeted strike against a few high value targets in the Dark Web drug trade. Now the full scope of that international law enforcement crackdown has been revealed, and it’s a scorched-earth purge of the Internet underground.

On Friday, the European police agency Europol along with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security announced that the operation has now arrested 17 people in as many countries and seized hundreds of Dark Web domains associated with well over a dozen black market websites.

In addition to the takedowns of drug markets Silk Road 2, Cloud 9 and Hydra revealed Thursday, it’s also busted contraband markets like Pandora, Blue Sky, Topix, Flugsvamp, Cannabis Road, and Black Market. Other takedown targets included money laundering sites like Cash Machine, Cash Flow, Golden Nugget and Fast Cash.

And agents have taken from criminal suspects more than $1 million in bitcoin, $250,000 in cash, as well as an assortment of computers, drugs, gold, silver and weapons that they had yet to fully catalogue.

In all, the agency says it’s seized 414 “.onion” domains, the web addresses used by the anonymity software Tor that hides the physical location of those sites’ servers.

When WIRED spoke Thursday night with Troels Oerting, head of the European Cybercrime Center, he said his staff hadn’t even had time to assemble the full list of sites it’s pulled down in the sprawling operation.

“One of the primary targets was the Silk Road guy,” said Oerting, referring to Blake Benthall, the 26-year old coder arrested in San Francisco Wednesday and accused of managing the popular Silk Road 2 drug site. “But we also decided to see if we could identify more of the administrators of these sites and remove their infrastructure as well…Some moved before we could act, but we’ve taken most of our targets down.”

Europol didn’t immediately share the details of the 17 arrests related to the operation. But aside from Benthall, it revealed earlier on Thursday that two individuals had been arrested in Dublin in a large Dark Web-related drug bust.

Silk Road 2 seized

Just how law enforcement agents were able to locate the Dark Web sites despite their use of the Tor anonymity software remains a looming mystery. In its criminal complaint against Benthall, for instance, FBI agent Vincent D’Agostini writes merely that in May of 2014 the FBI “identified a server located in a foreign country believed to be hosting the Silk Road 2.0 website at the time,” without explaining how it bypassed Tor’s protections.

The sheer number of Tor-hosted sites affected by the takedown raises questions about whether law enforcement officials may have found new vulnerabilities in Tor’s well-tested anonymity shield.

Asked how Operation Onymous located the sites, Europol’s Oerting was unapologetically secretive. “This is something we want to keep for ourselves,” he said. “The way we do this, we can’t share with the whole world, because we want to do it again and again and again.”

The organization that created and maintains Tor, the non-profit Tor project, said it didn’t have any more information on Operation Onymous’ techniques. But it downplayed the threat of a vulnerability in Tor’s safeguards for the tough-to-trace sites it protects known as Tor hidden services.

 

“It sounds like old-fashioned police work continues to be effective,” said Andrew Lewman. “It could be [that law enforcement targeted] common people or organizations running these hidden services, or a hosting company, or something more mundane than a hidden service exploit.”

THE SHEER NUMBER OF TOR-HOSTED SITES AFFECTED BY THE TAKEDOWN RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS MAY HAVE FOUND NEW VULNERABILITIES IN TOR’S WELL-TESTED ANONYMITY SHIELD.

Despite whatever tricks Europol and its American counterparts used to unmask the sites, several of the most popular Dark Web drug markets have nonetheless eluded them.

study by the non-profit Digital Citizens Alliance in September found that the six most popular Tor-based markets by total product listings were Silk Road 2, Agora, Evolution, Pandora, Andromeda, and BlueSky. Operation Onymous captured fully half of those top sites.

But Agora, Evolution and Andromeda remain online and will likely absorb many of the refugee buyers and sellers from the law enforcement busts.

In fact, Agora had already passed the Silk Road in total product listings with more than 16,000 mostly-illegal offerings, and the fast-growing marketplaceEvolution was already on pace to soon take the second place spot in the underground economy.

Operation Onymous comes just over a year after the takedown of the original Silk Road drug site and the arrest of its alleged creator Ross Ulbricht, whose trial is scheduled for January.

In an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder just last week, New York Senator Charles Schumer called for a renewed crackdown on the flourishing Dark Web sites that have filled the void left by the original Silk Road.

He pointed to statistics that show that more than twice as many drugs are now being sold on the Dark Web compared to when the original Silk Road was online.

Though Operation Onymous left many of that underground economy’s major players intact, Europol’s Oerting said he was more confident than ever that the remaining sites can be tracked down and pulled off the Internet.

“This is just the beginning of our work. We will hunt these sites down all the time now,” he said, praising the cooperation of all the international law enforcement agencies involved.  “We’ve proven we can work together now, and we’re a well-oiled machine. It won’t be risk-free to run services like this anymore.”

The Silk Road 2.0 is now bigger and better than ever before: What’s the FBI to do?

You have to give it to shadowy, corporate-funded lobby groups: You can get some seriously cool data when there’s big money on the line. This week saw the release of the newest report from a DC-based activist group called the Digital Citizens Alliance, an anti-piracy organization that is often accused of astroturfing for large media conglomerates. The report focuses on the current state of the Deep Web drug market and how, despite the shut down of the Silk Road last year, Silk Road 2.0 is already bigger than its predecessor. If the FBI or other law enforcement agencies want to put a real dent in the Deep Web, it will have to try a lot harder.

The overall aim of the Digital Citizens Alliance is to create panic among those less informed about the internet — arguing, among other things, that joining a BitTorrent swarm can grant total computer access to hackers, and that YouTube and Google intentionally host videos promoting or even selling drugs and prostitution. Its main goal seems to be to exaggerate every bad thing about the internet, scaring people out of supporting things like net neutrality and an internet free from censorship. All that said, however, its latest report on the state of Deep Web drug markets is interesting even without the hackery of their analysis. The raw data speaks for itself — and happily for the froth-manufacturers at the DCA, requires no extra spin to be interesting. The core insight is that, following the Silk Road shutdown last year, the Silk Road 2.0 has risen to attract more drug listings than we’ve ever seen before.

silk road chart 1

It’s not just the Silk Road that’s grown, either. In the wake of the Silk Road’s temporary demise users naturally ran to alternatives, and though most of those quickly fell under the weight of scams and thievery, the basic diversification of the user base remains. Though SR2.0 is by far the largest dark market, it still only accounts for about 41% of all listings — down from more than 70% last year. Competitors like Agora and Pandora collectively hold the majority now, and that’s as assessed by a report which openly admits that it excluded a further 25 small dark markets of which its authors were aware.

While it’s true that the Silk Road is bigger than ever before, that’s mostly a result of the fact that the Deep Web is bigger than ever before, as well. The Silk Road bust was the single best thing to ever happen to the Deep Web — a criminal Streisand effect seems to be at work here, as the Deep Web makes its way into everything from political speeches to House of Cards. After the bust several new high-profile markets sprang up to sell drugs, hacking, assassination — though of course we have no way of knowing how legitimate most of it really is.

The perhaps justifiably mocking face of Ross Ulbricht, alleged creator of the first Silk Road.
The perhaps justifiably mocking face of Ross Ulbricht, alleged creator of the first Silk Road.

People seem to have forgotten that immediately after the raid, conventional wisdom warned against ever again buying from any vendor who was active at that time; anyone selling during the bust could now very easily be an FBI plant. (Read: How to use Tor and get on the Deep Web.)And that’s the problem. For every user exalting the rise of a new Silk Road, there’s another addressing the rampant scamming and theft it now hosts. Many users on the official Silk Road 2.0 forums are worried that drug vendors are being added regularly despite vendor registration having been closed for months — a sign many take to mean the site’s mods are instating fake vendors. Are they cops? Bots? Russians?

Ross Ulbricht’s arrest sparked interest in super-security, but that rush has ended. Now, popular Silk Road vendors like “weedgirlz” start Twitter accounts and “clearnet” websitesadvertising their illegal businesses. There’s simply no institutional or individual memory here — a fact that makes individual busts very easy for police, but overall victory almost unimaginable. Just as in “real life” crime, Deep Web rings are intractable, dynamic populations that resist the kind of social engineering these arrests aspire to be. As long as the technology to do illegal things online even might exist, people will use it.

The Silk Road bust is probably at least partly responsible for the extended Tor-talk on Netflix's House of Cards.
The Silk Road bust is probably at least partly responsible for the extended Tor-talk on Netflix’s House of Cards.

The best chance to really hurt the dark markets has already passed. If the Silk Road 2.0 has in fact been a honeypot all along (and many still suspect that to be the case), that would be a major and above all long lastingblow to the Deep Web. Not because of the arrests or the convictions, but because of the method by which they were acquired.

The Deep Web’s true strength is not in encryption or anonymity, but in confidence. The FBI needs to imbue this community not with fear of prison, but with fear of theirfriends. If it can’t, then law enforcement will simply never get a handle on Deep Web criminals, and the markets will keep growing as they have been for years now. The occasional, aimless bust won’t change that.

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