Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other federal officials announced an indictment in California on Thursday of a suspected administrator of the site, and the Justice Department filed a forfeiture complaint to seize assets connected to the operation. Ironically, some of the services that can be bought and sold on the AlphaBay Market include spam sending services, “bank drops” , account details, and other services useful to fraudsters engaged in phishing. This attack could therefore be viewed as yet another example of fraudsters defrauding fraudsters. The phishing site used in this attack was discovered on Thursday and is still operating at the time of writing.
A takedown operation on July 5th headed by U.S. law enforcement agencies closed AlphaBay and revealed 25-year-old Canadian Alexandre Cazes as the site’s administrator ‘alpha02’. The general volatility of darknet markets has led to calls for further decentralization of transactions to protect both buyers and vendors. If cryptocurrency is held in a customer account on a darknet platform, it’s always at risk if a site shuts down. The Silk Road was an online black market where users could buy and sell illicit goods anonymously. It operated via darknets, anonymous networks that can only be accessed through specialized software like Tor Browser.
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It boasts of mature management, unparalleled security, 24/7 professional & well-trained Staff. It is the marketplace which introduced most features you see today on other places such as sticky listing, featured listings, autoshops, monero as a payment, PGP-signed addresses, shared account access for vendors and so on. AlphaBay is a legendary dark web marketplace which was by the FBI’s own words the biggest darknet marketplace to have ever existed. The platform was shutdown in 2017 by authorities during Operation Bayonet but they were unable to capture many of the staff members including its co-founder and security administrator DeSnake. “This is a landmark operation. AlphaBay was roughly 10 times the size of the Silk Road,” acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said at the news conference, referring to the large anonymous marketplace whose founder was convicted of drug charges in 2015.
While few of DeSnake’s claims can be confirmed, he has at least enjoyed unusual longevity for a dark web market operator. Security firm Flashpoint says it has seen evidence and descriptions of DeSnake operating under the same pseudonym—first as a credit-card-focused cybercriminal on sites like Evolution and Tor Carder Forum before becoming a market administrator himself—since at least 2013. A kind of practical paranoia permeated DeSnake’s messages to WIRED, both on a personal level and in his plans for AlphaBay’s revamped technical protections. AlphaBay’s dark web site is now accessible not only via Tor, like the original AlphaBay, but also I2P, a less popular anonymity system that DeSnake encourages users to switch to. He repeatedly described his wariness that Tor may be vulnerable to surveillance, though he provided no evidence.
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According to another complaint affidavit filed in the Middle District of Florida against Jeremy Achey, an investigation into a fentanyl overdose death in Orange County, Florida, on February 27, revealed that the lethal substance was purchased on AlphaBay from Achey. Before becoming an analyst in 2020, I spent eight years as a reporter covering consumer tech news. Prior to joining PCMag, I was a reporter for SC Magazine, focusing on hackers and computer security. I earned a BS in journalism from West Virginia University, and started my career writing for newspapers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Services Customer Success Find out how we will be with you every step of the way on your compliance journey. Professional Services Keep your cryptoasset risk policies and procedures in line with regulation.
It mimics the genuine AlphaBay Market login page, and prompts the victim to enter his username and password. A client-side check forces the victim to also complete the security code CAPTCHA field, although the phishing site does not care whether the correct value was entered. The genuine AlphaBay hidden service uses the address pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion. A hidden service’s address is derived from the public key used to authenticate the connection, so it is difficult to convincingly impersonate the site without having access to the owner’s key pair. However, the fraudster could easily have computed a partial match using tools such as scallion; for example, Netcraft generated the lookalike address pwoah7f5ivq74fmp.onion within minutes.
In August 2020, it suffered an “exit scam,” meaning one or more administrators closed up shop, leaving with all of the cryptocurrency being held in escrow by the site, making them at least several million dollars richer. “I want to dedicate this to alpha02 first and foremost we promised each other to go to the bitter end, here I am keeping my end of the deal.” The address used by the phishing site will look familiar to regular users of the AlphaBay darknet market, but rather than pointing to an anonymous hidden service, it points to a phishing site hosted by AttractSoft GmbH in Germany. Fraudsters operating on the AlphaBay darknet market are using phishing attacks to steal login credentials from other criminals. In this particular attack, the phishing site mimics the address of one of AlphaBay’s Tor hidden services.
DeSnake says his security practices—both the ones he’s applying within AlphaBay and on a personal level—go far beyond those of his predecessor, Cazes, who went by the online handle Alpha02. Cazes was caught, in part, through Bitcoin blockchain analysis that confirmed his role as AlphaBay’s boss, a trick that would be far more difficult, if not impossible, with Monero. DeSnake argues that new safeguards like these will make AlphaBay that much harder to remove from the dark web this time around. “I had given many ‘holy grails’ of anonymity, but he chose to use only certain things while he branded other methods/ways as ‘overkill,’” DeSnake writes, in his seemingly foreign-inflected and occasionally misspelled English. We have a heavy focus on I2P because we believe it is the future and every DNM user should learn how to use it.
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Of course, everything DeSnake told WIRED may itself be misdirection designed to help him further evade those agencies. Regardless of the security features of Monero, for the safety of our customers AlphaBay runs an internal mixer which guarantees that any of your monero coins will not be linked to you. For best ways to unlink coins even further, refer to our Forum for latest guideliness.
- In that hyper-ambitious plan, open source programmers and server operators who independently run hundreds or thousands of servers would be paid a portion of profits for hosting markets that would form a vast dark web network with no single point of failure.
- It features a unique site design unlike any other market yet is still intuitive and easy to use.
- AlphaBay is noteworthy in the world of darknet markets for accepting another cryptocurrency in addition to bitcoin; support for Monero, supposedly more anonymous, was implemented at the end of August 2016.
- Just over a year later, however, AlphaBay has emerged as a top, if not the top, illicit marketplace.
- Ionut Ilascu is a technology writer with a focus on all things cybersecurity.
Much of the allure of the Silk Road and other dark web markets is anonymity. Even if your online activity is completely legal, privacy is essential to avoid hackers and other snoops. Avast One is a comprehensive cybersecurity solution with a built-in VPN that fully encrypts your internet connection for true online privacy. All of this contributes to the volatility and criminality of cyber black markets.
As such, they are normally under intense scrutiny from law enforcement and security professionals alike. “This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of the year — taking down the largest dark net marketplace in history,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “I believe that because of this operation, the American people are safer — safer from the threat of identity fraud and malware, and safer from deadly drugs.”
We will create an ‘AlphaBay’ market on that network and migrate our community, giving users and vendors ability to buy, sell and trade in a decentralized manner. Potentially other marketplaces will join the network as it mitigates their requirements and risk of arrest without giving up management control . Users will be safe to purchase from multiple markets all without the need of trusting any market with their cryptocurrency or registering for each one individually. Vendors will be able to sell on multiple markets seemlessly or even create their own shop while preserving their anonimity and security.