The Fight Against Online Black Markets Continue
European and US law enforcement groups announced to have identified and closed over 400 websites that were used for illegal activities. The investigation also got 17 people arrested for running these websites and they are now facing charges. All 17 website operators had one thing in common – all of them used a free Tor software that encrypts your traffic and hides your real identity on the internet.
The authorities responsible for the investigation claim that they have been able to link the operators with the websites that have been closed as the investigation went on. Even though the officials have been able to identify these people, security experts claim that it is highly unlikely that they were able to crack the encryption that Tor, also known as the onion router, uses.
The websites under investigation were all involved in activities similar to the infamous Silk Road. They were black markets were criminals could obtain drugs, guns and other illegal goods. The market also sold the credit card information that has been obtained through various means like exploits.
Besides the 400 closed websites and 17 arrested people who have been associated with them, the authorities have also been able to take possession of the computer hardware that was used to operate the websites as well as various currency. $1 million worth of Bitcoins has been arrested along side $200,000 in cash, silver, gold and drugs.
One of the people arrested during the investigation was Blake Benthall who is believed to have been involved in the operation of the Silk Road 2.0. The website was similar to the original Silk Road that was the best known online black market and was closed a year ago.
The original Silk Road just like the recently closed websites were all running using the onion router. Considering that Tor was created by the US Naval research Laboratory and it receives funds from the US State Department and Department of Defense, it may signal that in order to collect the evidence against these website operators the authorities my have gotten their hand on part of the widely used anonymity platforms.
The software protects the data and security by encrypting the information multiple times and then sending it through multiple random routers in the network. Each router removes one layer of encryption before it redirects it to another router and the procedure continues till all the information is no longer encrypted. What makes it an anonymity tool though is the fact that none router in the network receives all details of the message transferred through the Tor network.
The criminals will always have an access to technology that is dedicated to protect someone’s privacy online in order to conceal evidences of running the black market websites. Therefore, authorities have to constantly share information with each other to make sure that they are able to fight theses criminals efficiently.
It seems that authorities are able to bypass some of the features that Tor network offers for everyone concerned about their privacy and anonymity. Therefore, if you are using Tor, you should consider about additional protection methods like VPN. It will enable you to put an additional security layer on your internet traffic that official authorities have no power on. Furthermore, NordVPN can proudly say that we do not keep any logs that government could ask as an evidence.