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Techie's Lounge Dark net experts trade theories on 'de-cloaking' after raids

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The hidden web community has started trying to find out how services and identities were compromised after police raids led to 17 arrests.

Last week, several high-profile sites on the so-called "hidden", "dark" or "deep" web were seized.

Experts are looking at techniques the authorities may have used to "de-cloak" people running services accessed through anonymisation service Tor.

"We were as surprised as most of you," said the group that develops Tor.

In a blog post, the Tor Project team wrote: "We are left asking, 'How did they locate the hidden services?' We don't know.

"In liberal democracies, we should expect that when the time comes to prosecute some of the 17 people who have been arrested, the police would have to explain to the judge how the suspects came to be suspects.

"As a side benefit of the operation of justice, Tor could learn if there are security flaws in hidden services or other critical internet-facing services."



The anonymity Tor offers means that it has become popular with criminals as a way to conduct their activities online.

But the Tor Project, which receives funding from the US government, is also seen as a key component for those who need anonymity on the internet for other important reasons, such as activism in repressive regimes.
'Operation Onymous'

Tor is one of several services that allows people to access what is generally referred to as the "hidden", "deep" or "dark" web.

Here, sites that do not show up on traditional search engines are located.

But more importantly, users on Tor have their locations, and therefore identities, hidden. This is achieved by routing a person's journey on the internet through various different computers in locations all over the world, creating anonymity.

However, with this latest raid, the anonymity of users on Tor is again under question. But one expert, Dr Steven Murdoch, from University College London, told the BBC it was unlikely that Tor itself had been "cracked".

"Some major hidden markets are still available," he noted. "Including some of the biggest.
 

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