A URL on its own is pretty useless to law enforcement agencies; you can’t really shut down the website or track its owners.
You can launch a DDoS attack, but again the problem remains that while you may stop the site, you haven’t actually caught the criminals behind it.
With the IP address however, you can do anything you want.
You can shut down the site, and you can also tell where it’s coming from as well.
However, Dark Net IP addresses are all hidden, right?
Actually, apparently not.
A Tor hidden server developer named Thomas White has shown that due to the ineptitude, or perhaps just laziness of Dark Net web developers, and site administrators, the IP addresses of sites are a lot more vulnerable than we thought.
White did this to raise awareness of what he calls the “Spectrum of Security”, using Tor’s hidden services is a very good start, but it isn’t everything.
In fact recently, quite a bit of light has been shed on the un-tech savvy nature of some of the most successful Dark Net criminal masterminds.
Remember that Ross Ulbricht used his own personal Gmail account for Dread Pirate Roberts, and also he posted a question on stack overflow looking for advice for features on the Silk Road site.
I guess that for many, what starts out as a simple side project, turns into something they can no longer control, and when that happens, some of the basics get overlooked.
What does need to be said is that Thomas White appears to be pro-anonymity.
Firstly he works for Tor, but also he didn’t release the IP addresses of sites until they had been shut down.
However, from the vague description of how he came across the IP addresses he gave on his blog, it would appear that it was a very simple task.
If this process could be repeated in a new piece of software, the results would be much more severe.
At the end of it all however, the amount of change that this would make is probably fairly limited.
In reality I think that what would happen would be a sort of Dark Net natural selection, where the sites that have overlooked the basics would disappear, and those that had taken the necessary precautions would grow ever stronger and take over the market.
However, all this still remains to be seen.
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