Wednesday, August 2, 2017

AlphaBay dark marketplace shut down, and others spring up

Here's the Telegraph:
AlphaBay: World's largest dark web site is shut down

"The US Government has shut down two of the world's largest markets on the dark web, a hidden corner of the internet often associated with the sale of illegal weapons and drugs.

"The US Department of Justice confirmed on Thursday that it had shuttered the illicit AlphaBay and Hansa websites following a "landmark" investigation involving law enforcement from around the world.

"AlphaBay and Hansa were associated with the trade of illegal goods such as drugs, guns, personal data stolen in hacks, and computer viruses. There were more than 40,000 sellers on AlphaBay who were advertising around 250,000 items of illegal drugs and chemicals, according to Europol.
"The operation is reminiscent of the 2013 closure of Silk Road, the first popular dark web marketplace, following the arrest of creator Ross Ulbricht. AlphaBay was created in the void left by Silk Road. "
Here's the Economist:
Two of the biggest dark-web markets have been shut down
History suggests that other sites will soon fill the void

 "But governments’ drug tsars are unlikely to be celebrating for long. Numerous dark-web markets have fallen prey to the police before the latest two. And each time, as shown in a paper* by two cyber-security experts, Nicolas Christin and Kyle Soska, new sites have popped up to fill the void. The authors scraped data from the largest dark-web sites between May 2013 and January 2015 to shed light on this shadowy market. During that period, Silk Road, once the largest market on the dark web, was raided and closed by the FBI. Within months, it was replaced by the less-than-imaginatively named Silk Road 2. In late 2014 this successor site met its demise as well, in another law-enforcement sting called Operation Onymous, at which point Evolution and Agora took up the baton. And after they closed down, customers moved to AlphaBay instead. This most recent pair of closures may end up as another mighty thump in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole."

*Measuring the Longitudinal Evolution of the Online Anonymous Marketplace Ecosystem
Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin, Carnegie Mellon University
The paper has some interesting remarks on the difficulties to be overcome in surveying dark markets, and lists the following markets that were investigated:

And here's the BBC, with a story dated August 1:
Dark web markets boom after AlphaBay and Hansa busts
By Leo Kelion

"Trade on several of the dark web's illegal markets has boomed since two major players were shut by the authorities last month, according to research carried out for the BBC.
The US and Dutch authorities forced AlphaBay and Hansa offline to prevent the sale of drugs, weapons and malware.
But over the last week of July, other sites saw their number of listings rise by as much as 28%, the study indicates.
" Dream Market is now the biggest illegal store with a total of 98,844 listings at the end of the month. The site was launched in late 2013 and is now one of the oldest dark web markets in existence.
Its number of listings rose by 3,818 over the course of the week.
While that was the biggest increase of the surveyed sites in numerical terms, it represented a relatively modest increase of 3.9%.
"There is some interesting buzz around Dream Market potentially being compromised and/or under law enforcement control, which is feeding fear and uncertainty amongst vendors and buyers," said Mr Ben-Meir.
"That is probably why Dream Market has not grown substantially in the wake of the takedowns."
 "The next biggest site is TradeRoute, which rose from 14,914 listings to 17,816 over the period - a 16.3% gain.
It includes forged documents and black market tobacco and alcohol among its wares."
See earlier posts on the drug market known as Silk Road.
See paper Traveling the Silk Road: A Measurement Analysis of a Large Anonymous Online
Marketplace, by Nicolas Christin

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