It's a dark time on the Dark Net. This Tuesday the FBI shuttered Silk Road, a drug market that operated for more than two years with impunity. The Silk Road helped popularize the Dark Net as the Mall of Anarcho-Capitalism, where illegal drugs, stolen credit cards, child porn and weapons are traded openly. But a series of high-profile busts has seriously undermined the premise of the Dark Net.
These days, everyone has a social media guy. It's a crucial component of marketing for any modern business, no matter what's being sold: books, cars, food, journalism. Illegal drugs. Since the online illegal drug market Atlantis Marketplace launched six months ago, it's set itself apart with brazen marketing tactics. But it abruptly shut down this week. Now that he's got some free time on his hands, the freelance online marketing expert who was Atlantis' main PR guy was willing to talk to me about hustling drugs in the social media era.
On Sunday afternoon, large swaths of the so-called "dark net"—the network of web sites accessible only to people using the anonymity-enabling Tor software—went even darker than normal. The widespread blackout appears to be the result of an FBI sting, targeted at the trade of kiddie porn on the Tor Network. One cybersecurity researcher was watching the entire time, and offered Gawker a peek into one of the biggest attacks on the dark net in history.
The Tor Network is a vibrant shadow web used by people who want to hide their tracks online. But even this so-called "dark net" has vulnerabilities. This weekend, the dark net was rocked when its biggest hosting company was shut down, the alleged founder arrested on child porn charges, and the identities of many users who believed they were anonymous apparently harvested by authorities.
We're fascinated by the Tor Network, an online anonymizing technology that is often referred to by the much more sexy nickname "the dark net." The dark net is a shadow internet where people can do what they please with little fear of being tracked down and identified. Activists in oppressive regimes use the dark net, but so do drug dealers, gun dealers and pedophiles.