We contacted an admin who helps run the Hansa Market. I asked for an interview and he responded, “‘Live’ interviews via Skype are not possible for security reasons, but you can send us any specific question you have.” The admin also agreed that I could use the information I got from him for this article.
The one thing with running a Dark Web site is the danger of getting caught. The admin told me that the most important way to avoid this is to be secure on the technical side.
He told me “servers have to be set up in a special way and some experience is required to do that. You need someone with a background in server administration or you are doomed from the start.” The admin pointed out that the first admin of Silk Road was inexperienced, asking technical questions on stackoverflow with an account that could be traced back to him.
He stated, “You have to think twice before you do anything and have to be at least a little paranoid.”
A problem he said with growing Dark Web sites is that getting new staff is difficult.
Big sites get infiltrated all the time and have to use discretion in deciding what privileges they give their staff.
Socializing among staff about private matters is never among those privileges, a safety measure to minimize social engineering risks.
We asked the admin if law enforcement has been sending them threats. He stated, “We have never had any law enforcement threats.
I personally don’t think LE operates that way. Either they know who you are or where you servers are or they don’t and keep investigating.” He explained how if a threat were to come about, it would give the admins time to move server or disappear.
A big thing with servers and new Dark Web markets is the price of running them.
In fact, this is the reason why getting started is so difficult.
Servers can cost thousands and thousands of dollars per month to run.
The admin stated that “if you have just one server, you doomed.” You need multiple servers, which in total cost around $50,000 a year for five servers.
You also need people to take care of the servers, which cost money. You need staff to help with the website which, again, costs money.
That’s why you can’t start a Dark Web site on your own, unless you have a large amount of cash in your pocket.
I contacted some of the admins at Alphabay but it did not come out successful.
Most of them gave the middle finger, but one of them said I could ask a few questions.
I asked if they have gotten threats from the authorities or any aggression.
The admin informed me that “law enforcement threats happen but are not a threat.” He went on to say that “people threaten to take them down but there usually posers.” He told me that over a year ago, someone was not lying about taking them down.
They shut down the market for a little while and the admins later found out it was the person who made the threat.
The Alphabay admin told me that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) did contact them asking about one of their customers.
But Alphabay did not reply, thus not complying with law enforcement and protecting their users’ privacy.
I asked the admin about issues or bugs on Alphabay. He simply said “there are very little but the bugs that are found are minimal issues.” I did point out the issue with people being able to see other users’ private messages.
He explained “were working on that bug and will be fixed soon.” This bug made people’s personal details available for others to see.
Addresses and personal information were vulnerable because of this. There were rumors that law enforcement used this bug to crack down on users.
It’s said that they were able to find addresses and other personal information about people buying illegal products.
He summed up saying that being an admin is not an easy job for the common person.
The lives of admins can be quite difficult and crazy. They are under a humongous amount of pressure. But it’s rewarding when everything is going right.
With the wrong steps, these admins could be in bars or in deep trouble. It makes us appreciate the work admins due and what happens behind the scenes of Dark Web sites.