16 European countries and the US have joined forces in a global effort to shut down more than 400 dark net sites including Silk Road 2.0. These sites operated on the Tor network which prevents anyone from learning your location or browsing habits and is home to thousands of illegal marketplaces, trading in drugs, child abuse images as well as sites for extremist groups.
17 arrests have been made which include Blake Benthall, who is charged as being the operator of the notorious black market website known as Silk Road 2.0. When the website is visited, an article captioned "Silk Road 2.0 BUSTED!"
"The alleged operator of the black market website Silk Road 2.0 has been arrested and the website shut down. The man arrested and charged is “Blake Benthall”, he was apprehended in San Francisco USA on Wednesday the 5th of November 2014."
Six British citizens were also arrested, including a 20-year-old man from Liverpool, a 19-year-old man residing in New Waltham, a 30 year-old-man from Cleethorpes and a man and woman, both aged 58, living in Aberdovey, Wales.
The global operation also saw the seizure of Bitcoins worth approximately $1 million. Troels Oerting, head of Europol's European cybercrime center was quite confident about the operation and stated:
"Today we have demonstrated that, together, we are able to efficiently remove vital criminal infrastructures that are supporting serious organized crime, and we are not 'just' removing these services from the open internet; this time we have also hit services on the dark net using Tor where, for a long time, criminals have considered themselves beyond reach."
However, it must be noted that dark net sites aren't all about illegal activity and the anonymous browser, Tor, was originally created by the US Naval Research Laboratory. It hides a user's identity by routing their traffic through a series of other computers and has 500 million users worldwide which includes the military, law enforcement officers, journalists and general members of the public who wish to keep their browser activities private.
But Tor has also been regularly associated with illegal activity as it allows people to visit sites offering illegal drugs for sale and access to child abuse images and other such searches which would otherwise have not been available in traditional search engine results. Subsequently, this has resulted in the closure of more than 400 dark net sites and 17 arrests.
Source: BBC News| Images via Tech Spot, Silk Road