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Crime The Internet

Utopia, Silk Road's Latest Replacement, Only Lasted Nine Days 83

Daniel_Stuckey points us to this story by Max Cherney: "This morning, anyone hoping to browse Utopia, the up-and-coming (but now defunct) competitor to Silk Road 2.0, was greeted with an unwelcome but at this point familiar message: 'This hidden service has been seized by the Dutch National Police.' The online black market was shut down a mere nine days after its much-anticipated launch. Despite rumors of a hack, Dutch cops have issued a statement saying they arrested five men in connection with running Utopia and seized computers, hard drives, USB sticks, and 'about 900 Bitcoins' — roughly $600,000. Utopia's servers were apparently housed in Germany, where another man was arrested on suspicion of weapons and drug trafficking. The Dutch launched operation CONDOR in early 2013 to uncover illegal marketplaces on the Tor network, of the likes of Silk Road 2.0 and Utopia. The investigation into Utopia pulled out all the stops: undercover agents and 'buy-busts,' not just of drugs, but also a contract assassination — much to the surprise of the Dutch public prosecutor."
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Utopia, Silk Road's Latest Replacement, Only Lasted Nine Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:57PM (#46233333)

    I can already hear the chittering of paranoiac libertarians' keyboards as they froth over how this was 'obviously' a set-up.

    No, criminals are just that fucking stupid, and you don't need to be that smart to set up a glorified webforum.

  • by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:00PM (#46233365)
    Sounds like Tor itself is compromised
  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:17PM (#46233507)

    SilkRoad was taken down by exploiting a vuln in the TOR browser and planting malware on users' computers -- maybe this is law enforcement's new trick?

    Are you sure about that? I thought it was because they traced the owner's account to a previous post he made when he was getting the thing set up where he included his personal email address.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:18PM (#46233525)

    No, criminals are just that fucking stupid, and you don't need to be that smart to set up a glorified webforum.

    Not all criminals... Just the ones you read about. ;)

  • Re:Tor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:21PM (#46233551)

    At this point if they want you they are going to get you. Use proxies if you want, use VPNs if you want, try TOR or I2P or Freenet or freaking pixies with smoke signals but cracking is easier than securing so just as soon as you make it worthwhile to get you they are going to come.

    Funny... They seem to want the pirate bay fairly badly... Perhaps security is possible, but doing things well is hard work.

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @11:45PM (#46235385) Homepage

    For all we know the site might have been untraceable as far as Tor was concerned.

    If I want to sell you something illegal like drugs online there are a bunch of problems we need to solve. We need a way to communicate. I need a way to advertise my wares. I need a way to advertise my reputation so that you're willing to pay me. You need a way to pay me. I need a way to send you the drugs.

    Any of those steps are susceptible to interception, and Tor really only addresses one part of the communications problem. If I am running a hidden service over Tor and my web server contains some vulnerability, then anybody looking at my website can get at data I possess, and if the server itself is used for other things or has any visibility to the internet then the attacker can get data that might help locate the server. Then there is the payment and delivery angle - the FBI can buy some drugs and watch where their payment goes, or see where their package comes from.

    Criminal enterprises usually have a weak link somewhere - the guy who is dumb and deposits $10M in cash in his local bank or whatever. Maybe the dumb conspirators send some text messages, which we learned months ago are basically read worldwide by the NSA (in the past I doubt they'd use that data for drug busting since they don't want to give away the fact that they're doing it, but today there really is no reason for them not to use it for everything).

    Carrying out one illegal transaction of any kind is usually pretty easy to get away with. If you make a single color photocopy of a $20 bill and buy a hamburger with it, there is a decent chance that you'll get away with it, though if you don't you're going to be in a world of hurt. Now, if you decide to quit your job and live off of poorly-made counterfeit bills, you won't be staying in business for very long. If you're going to try to run an for drugs then you're going to generate enough clues that somebody will track you down.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde