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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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  • Tor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:08PM (#46233423)
    So wait TOR isn't magical unbreakable software that makes you immune to laws and invisible to enforcement? Who knew? 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. In ten years or so there will be a horde of people crying out over some future data leak that shows backdoors and government zero days in what is considered 'secure' software and saying "Gee, everyone knew this was all compromised back in 2014. This isn't news." /rant
  • by JCHerbsleb ( 2881347 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:12PM (#46233459)
    I think it's a fair question -- in theory these sites should be untraceable. 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?
  • by gwern ( 1017754 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:42PM (#46233719) Homepage
    Is the most parsimonious explanation for why 1 of 20+ marketplaces was busted really 'the underlying communications protocol is broken'?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:05PM (#46233927)

    Actually, yes, it is. Also your "1" is incorrect, we're on the third major public bust (and who knows how many kiddie porn rings quietly rounded up).

    We know that the government uses "parallel construction" to create a case against you when they can't tip their hand as to how they figured you out. SilkRoad #1 went down thanks to Canadian Post just happening to open a box that just happened to contain fake ids that DPR just happened to be stupid enough to have mailed to his own home. Or an agent dropped a box in the mail to the suspects address and a sticker on it saying "I'm illegal please open me:-)"

    I guess the first time it's happenstance.

    I don't believe the government ever made up any kind of cover story as to how they figured out the Freedom Hosting guy, they just annouced he was hosting kiddy porn and that was that. Couldn't possibly be by observing the metadata of their packets hop to hop over Tor to find the server they ended up at, that would imply that the tor developers are correct when they say that any government that can observe all the traffic on the internet at once can deanonymize you. Why, then that would mean that the protocol could be broken!

  • Lots of mistakes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:19PM (#46234501)

    He was already under suspicion for illegal passports coming in from Canada, but he logged into his Gmail account through his VPN..that was the nail in the coffin

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