Welcome to the second edition of Deep Web Roundup in which we collate the most intriguing stories from the darker side of the net. Despite not attracting as many headlines as it did in its 2013 heyday, the deep web is still a hub of paranoia, P2P trading, and pioneering privacy features. Anyone interested in preserving their anonymity on the net could learn a lot from the darknet’s more cautious practitioners.
Firefox is Borrowing Privacy Features From Tor
Deep Dot Web has reported on the extent to which Firefox has been incorporating features from the Tor browser. Given that Tor contains 95% of Mozilla’s code, that’s not surprising. It’s interesting though to see features such as blocking of HTML5 canvas fingerprinting trialed in Tor before migrating to Firefox. This type of fingerprinting can be used to track users as they browse the web, but Tor’s developers have found a way to curtail that.
Zcash, the Not-So-Private Coin
Thought your cryptocurrency transactions were private cos you’d been using zcash? Turns out there’s a one in three chance you’re wrong. If you want to maintain your privacy on the deep web – or anywhere else for that matter – monero looks like a safer bet. The coin has soared to almost $250 today, buoyed by news that it can now be used to purchase the music of more than 40 major recording artists. The real benefit of privacy coins, it transpires, is having the freedom to anonymously purchase Mariah Carey albums.
Goodbye Aero, You Won’t Be Missed
In the maiden edition of our Deep Web Roundup, we reported on Aero marketplace’s ongoing customer support issues. It turns out those issues were just as taster of what was to come, for days later the marketplace disappeared without a trace. The usual theories regarding hacks, law enforcement, and exit scams abound.
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what happened: the fact is another deep web marketplace is gone, taking with it vendor and buyer funds. If the umpteen similar incidents from this year haven’t already hit home, Aero’s demise is evidence that you shouldn’t leave funds in a marketplace for any longer than it takes to make a purchase with them – and even then you’re taking a risk.
Despite a succession of shutdowns and scams, demand for deep web marketplaces remains higher than ever. Reuters reports that prior to their demise, there were 350,000 products for sale on Alphabay and Hansa, with European intelligence agencies noting that the average lifespan of a darknet marketplace is now under a year.
The Ghost of Trade Route Emerges Through the Fog
Trade Route is long gone, though like an echo from the past, time-locked multi-sig addresses from the marketplace began to give up their contents this week. There have been reports of some time-locked transactions now being accepted on the bitcoin network, though the majority aren’t due to be unlocked for another month. It’s a small crumb of comfort for the vendors who lost out when the market pulled an exit scam – or possibly a very large crumb, given the mammoth gains that bitcoin has made since Trade Route vanished in October.
In related news, someone’s gone to the trouble of setting up a clearnet marketplaceto promote their darknet wares. The whole operation looks extremely sussed, and extreme caution is advised. Nevertheless, the operators of White Shadow Marketplace have even set up social media accounts. Don’t bank on “the biggest and safest Darknet Tor Onion Marketplace” being around for long – on either side of the web.
White Shadows and Dark Markets
Finally, a recent study has confirmed that the vast majority of bitcoin transactions are for legitimate purposes. Nevertheless, there are still illicit means of spending the web’s preeminent digital currency for those who are so inclined. In the last couple of weeks, a 133-year-old painting entitled Chief Ngatai-Raure, which was stolen from a New Zealand art gallery, has gone up for sale on the deep web. The site selling the red hot canvas? None none other than the aforementioned White Shadow Marketplace. It’s a small web.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.