U.S. and European law enforcement agencies last week launched a massive, coordinated strike on the so-called Dark Web, taking down hundreds of illicit websites selling goods ranging from drugs to explosives.
The strike began Wednesday with the arrest in San Francisco of Blake Benthall, who is alleged to be behind Silk Road 2.0. On Thursday and Friday, authorities in the U.S. and 16 European nations followed that up with a coordinated shutdown of 410 websites operating on the Tor anonymous browsing network, many of which carried out transactions using hard to trace virtual currencies. Seized sites were operated out of numerous European countries, including England, Germany, and France.
Known as Operation Onymous, the opposite of anonymous, the operation was two years in the making and it remains unknown exactly how the law enforcement agencies were able to bypass Tor and identify their targets. Speculation ranges from the use of informants to a massive de-anonymization of Tor user traffic, something that leaks by Edward Snowden suggest the U.S. National Security Agency has been working on for some time.
"There are no guarantees of anonymity," says Columbia University professor Steve Bellovin. "It's clear that buying [illicit goods] on something like Tor is not as safe as people thought a year ago."
From The Washington Post
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