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Raids cast doubt on the integrity of TOR

Tim Greene | Nov. 10, 2014
Federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Europe have shut down more than 400 Web sites using .onion addresses and made arrests of those who run them, which calls into question whether the anonymizing The Onion Router (Tor) network itself is still secure.

"It will be interesting to see how quickly Tor becomes a bunch of systems that are actually owned by intelligence services, much like double agents, or something along those lines."

But because of its popularity and churn among those who set up nodes, he says he thinks the service will be reliably secure. "I believe enough people use and support Tor that new nodes (both relays and bridges) will spawn and continue to make Tor a viable anonymity service," he says.

The U.S. Department of Justice detailed some of the sites taken down as follows:

  • "Pandora" (pandora3uym4z42b.onion), "Blue Sky" (blueskyplzv4fsti.onion), "Hydra"(hydrampvvnunildl.onion), and "Cloud Nine" (xvqrvtnn4pbcnxwt.onion), all of which were dark markets similar to Silk Road 2.0, offering an extensive range of illegal goods and services for sale, including drugs, stolen credit card data, counterfeit currency, and fake identity documents.
  • "Executive Outcomes" (http://iczyaan7hzkyjown.onionexternal link), which specialized in firearms trafficking, with offerings including assault rifles, automatic weapons, and sound suppressors.  The site stated that it used "secure drop ship locations" throughout the world so that "anonymity [was] ensured" throughout the shipping process, and that all serial numbers from the weapons it sold were "remove[d] . . . and refill[ed] with metal."
  • "Fake Real Plastic" (http://igvmwp3544wpnd6u.onionexternal link), which offered to sell counterfeit credit cards, encoded with "stolen credit card data" and "printed to look just like real VISA and Mastercards."  The cards were "[g]uaranteed to have at least $2500 left on [the] credit card limit" and could be embossed with "any name you want on the card."
  • "Fake ID" (http://23swqgocas65z7xz.onionexternal link), which offered fake passports from a number of countries, advertised as "high quality" and having "all security features" of original documents.  The site further advertised the ability to "affix almost all kind of stamps into the passports."
  • "Fast Cash!" (http://5oulvdsnka55buw6.onionexternal link) and "Super Notes Counter" (http://67yjqewxrd2ewbtp.onionexternal link), which offered to sell counterfeit Euros and U.S. dollars in exchange for Bitcoin.

"This action constitutes the largest law enforcement action to date against criminal websites operating on the "Tor" network," according to a press release from the DoJ.


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