If you were one of the 200,000 users of dark web marketplace AlphaBay, which boasted some 40,000 vendors, you will no doubt have been gutted when it was taken down two weeks ago with the arrest of the owner in Thailand. Obviously we are squeaky clean and only visit the dark web to observe bad folk in action so we found out, like everyone else, in the news.
It transpires that the owner of AlphaBay; Alexandre Cazes used his real email address ([email protected]) as the site administrator contact and had been using that email address for years. Not quite the evil genius you might have hoped for! You can read all about his decline and fall here:
The genius in this case lies with the combined police forces of many countries, most notably the Americans and Dutch. What they have done is undisputedly cunning.
As well as taking down AlphaBay, the biggest shark in these infested waters, the police also took control of the third largest site Hansa, but they didn’t shut it down. What they did was sit back and wait for all of the, presumably desperate for guns or gear, punters from AlphaBay to look elsewhere for their bits and pieces and pretty quickly register on Hansa.
So everyone who did this will now be the subject of an international police investigation, presumably prioritised by whether you were looking for tanks or a small bag of weed, or perhaps not. Time will tell. If you were one of these people, it might be very good to get your story straight and be prepared to have your collar felt. Probably best to tell the truth. Why did you want that bazooka? Think long and hard.
Given that AlphaBay is claimed to be responsible for numerous drug related deaths (Opium, Fenanyl, Heroin etc.) these takedowns can only be a good thing and might keep some people alive for a little longer…..maybe.
Now of course the takedown of these sites will also have a knock on effect in our world. Both AlphaBay and Hansa had markets specialising in the sale of Malware and stolen data. Hopefully as the police proceed with their enquiries, these assets will be identified and the rightful owners notified of the breach or planned attacks. Given that this will not be The Law’s top priority however, we wouldn’t hold our breath.
You can read an interview with the Dutch police by Mr Brian Krebs here:
If anybody is silly enough to think that this will in any way have a material impact on the nefarious activities of The Dark Web (mwahahaha), think again! Drug dealers are already rebuilding their stalls on DreamMarket and other sites, and as for Malware and Data stores, they are more abundant than spice and carpet vendors in Marrakech. Very little respite is to be had and caution remains the order of the day.
So in summary – AlphaBay and Hansa are dead, long (or more likely short) live DreamMarket and Greta.
If you would like to discuss the perils of The Dark Web with one of our paranoid security professionals, please contact us on: [email protected] or call 020 7517 3900.