Only 50 websites were deactivated in the dark web takedown last week.
According to an article by Forbes, the investigation, nicknamed Operation Onymous, deactivated upward of 50 websites, including Silk Road 2.0 and Blue Sky, as well as Mr. Quid’s Forum and Cannabis Road Markets.
Despite the original announcement stating that 414 websites had been taken down, this equates to only a dozen or so websites, according to FBI spokesperson David Berman.
While Berman mentioned a dozen sites, a complaint filed in the New York Southern District of New York confirmed that at least 27 sites were seized. The complaint was issued by the United States “seeking the forfeiture of any and all assets of the following dark market websites operating on the Tor network.” The FBI refused to comment on how many other sites were seized outside the ones listed on the complaint.
Troels Oerting, assistant director of the European Cybercrime Centre, declined to say how the authorities had cracked the dark websites despite the sites’ use of anonymous software.
This announcement also “surprised” the Tor Project, who said it had very little information about how this was accomplished or how Tor relays were seized by Government officials.
“Tor is most interested in understanding how these services were located, and if this indicates a security weakness in Tor hidden services that could be exploited by criminals or secret police repressing dissents,” he said. “We are also interested in learning why the authorities seized Tor relays even though their operation was targeting hidden services. Were these two events related?
How did they locate the hidden services?
“So we are left asking ‘How did they locate the hidden services?’. We don’t know. In liberal democracies, we should expect that when the time comes to prosecute some of the seventeen people who have been arrested, the police would have to explain to the judge how the suspects came to be suspects, and that as a side benefit of the operation of justice, Tor could learn if there are security flaws in hidden services or other critical internet-facing services.
“We know through recent leaks that the US DEA and others have constructed a system of organized and sanctioned perjury which they refer to as ‘parallel construction’.”