The FBI has published a “primer” on Darknet Marketplaces (DNM) after disrupting the infrastructure of a market with an operation called Hyperion. U.S. law enforcement agencies said they have wrapped up a “successful” international operation, teaching them a lot about underground online market behavior.
On November 1 a task force made up of international law enforcement and the FBI revealed it was targeting DNMs. The FBI said the idea was conceived by a group called Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group (FELEG). The coordinated coalition consisted of authorities from the U.K., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S.
The FBI says FELEG has an array of working groups and one of them is called the Cyber Crime Working Group. The Cyber Crime team provides intelligence on sophisticated perpetrators and DNMs. After detailing what FELEG and the Cyber Crime unit handles, the primer gives a descriptive set of instructions on how to access online underground marketplaces. The report notes the FBI and partners are infiltrating these illicit domains successfully, stating:
Illicit DarkNet marketplaces, by their very nature, are difficult to penetrate. But not impossible. The Bureau, with its partners, uses all available investigative techniques to target buyers, sellers, marketplace administrators, and the technical infrastructure of the marketplaces themselves. And we have had success doing it.
The Gravitation Towards Darknets
The FBI primer explains that while there are existing fraudulent schemes on the clearnet, criminals are gravitating to DNMs. Officials say there are legitimate users on the deep web as well, but DNMs are attracting those selling illegal products. It also explains cryptocurrency is used within these marketplaces.
“Payment for these goods and services is usually through virtual currency like bitcoin, also designed to be anonymous,” said the FBI.
During the Hyperion operation agents communicated with 150 people from the U.S. suspected of using DNMs. Individuals questioned confessed to ordering multiple types of illicit narcotics. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service also helped with the investigation.
The document explains that individuals are not often targeted and they are hunting “the most egregious criminal organizations and activities.” The authorities say Hyperion led to a number of agencies collecting data on new smuggling networks and trends.
FBI Primer Believes Operations Are Vital to Further Investigation
The FBI also states that back in 2014 law enforcement collected 400 DNM addresses during the Silk Road 2.0 takedown. The agencies explain that success like this is “vital.” Hyperion was a coordinated effort with several law enforcement agencies during the month of October.
The war on drugs continues to be a cat and mouse game for these organizations. Many people are against the fact that law enforcement is spending this much time on such affairs. It’s also hard to say what kind of clues they are giving when releasing these types of press releases. However, it’s safe to say that special agencies are investigating DNMs more frequently. Patrons of DNMs should protect themselves with high levels of anonymity.
What do you think about Operation Hyperion? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, and Pixabay.
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