Over 400 sites from the so-called the Deep Web, including Silk Road 2.0, have been shut down. A joint team supported by the United States and 16 European countries raided the hidden websites late last week. Seventeen arrests were made.
Sites Hosted on Tor Network
The websites in question were believed to be selling drugs, weapons, and other illegal items before being seized. All of the sites were hosted on the Tor network, an area of the internet that is inaccessible through traditional means. While Tor does host legitimate websites, it is perhaps most famous as the online pipeline for those looking to trade in illegal materials.
The international task force’s takedown of the sites marks another successful mission in the battle against increasingly sophisticated cybercrime. A similar operation carried out last year shuttered the original Silk Road which, like its 2.0 successor, dealt almost exclusively in illegal goods and services. Numerous other sites quickly filled the void left by Silk Road’s closure; many of those sites were targeted in last week’s operation.
All told, the raid seized roughly $1M in Bitcoin, which is, for some reason, still trying to be a thing in legit circles, as well.
Removing “Vital Criminal Infrastructures” From Deep Web
In a statement following the mission, Troels Oerting, head of the Europol European cybercrime center, said, “Today we have demonstrated that, together, we are able to efficiently remove vital criminal infrastructures that are supporting serious organized crime.
“We are not ‘just’ removing these services from the open internet,” he stated. “This time, we have also hit services in the [Deep Web] using Tor where, for a long time, criminals have considered themselves beyond reach.”
The Deep Web attracts illicit activity because it allows users to remain completely anonymous. The “hidden” web is thought to be as much as 500 times larger than the “standard” web you and I use on a daily basis. Almost three million users are believed to be a part of the Tor network.
“Tor has long been considered beyond the reach of law enforcement,” said Professor Alan Woodward, a University of Surrey security consultant and Europol advisor. “This action proves that it is neither invisible nor untouchable.”