Most people using the darknet do everything in their power to keep their identities hidden from other users. That seems to be a lot more difficult to do these days. Users still need to provide shipping addresses for items they buy from darknet marketplaces. Someone has been targeting TradeRoute users via physical mail to alert them that their data has been leaked. They are then encouraged to send a Bitcoin payment to a specific address lest their data be handed over to the police.
TradeRoute Users Receive Threats in the Mail
It is pretty interesting to see how the world of darknet marketplaces has been altered over the past few months. With the major marketplaces getting shut down in quick succession, something will need to change. New platforms such as Libertas are popping up with improved site security, ditching Bitcoin in favor of Monero for privacy reasons, and hopefully preventing one’s data from getting exposed to other users. Whether or not these new marketplaces can prevent the latter from happening remains to be determined, though.
It seems various members of the TradeRoute darknet marketplace have been targeted by someone who successfully obtained their data. That is rather remarkable, since this information should never have been exposed in the first place. Then again, the TradeRoute marketplace did suffer a major data breach, which means any personal information on file for both buyers and sellers may have been exposed.
So far, a few users have received a letter in which a “hacker” explains that he or she has obtained the user’s information from the TradeRoute hack. They ask all victims to cough up a certain amount of Bitcoin to avoid having their personal details sent to the police. This seemingly confirms the marketplace was not infiltrated by law enforcement agents, although that is not necessarily any sort of relief for most people.
By sending physical letters to these individuals, an interesting precedent is created. While most users will not pay the Bitcoin ransom whatsoever – there is no reason to do so – it is quite worrisome knowing there is at least one person out there who may have darknet user addresses. The hacker claims to be part of the Anonymous hacker collective, although it seems rather evident that is not the case whatsoever. Surprisingly, the “hacker” also threatens to expose users’ names and addresses on Reddit. That’s a very immature approach taken by someone who wants to get paid between .01 and 0.3 BTC. Not to mention the horrible English used in the letter itself.
So far, the consensus among darknet users is that this is all a big joke. Even if there were any truth to these allegations, one could always deny them unless proper evidence was coughed up. It is unlikely any hacker could actually do so, although he or she did manage to find an address to send these letters to in the first place. Then again, a letter in itself doesn’t prove any involvement in darknet activity, let alone any illegal dealings. It is still a major warning, though, but one that will mostly fall on deaf ears.
All of this goes to show there is a growing need for more secure platforms and more anonymous payment solutions. It seems only a matter of time until all markets embrace Monero as an anonymous payment method. Protecting a site’s infrastructure itself is not something any cryptocurrency can help with right now. An interesting future lies ahead for the darknet, although no one knows how things will play out in this regard.