DDoS: Europol, in the recently released 2019 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment, covered some of the ongoing instability in the dark web ecosystem as well as a community response to some of law enforcement’s actions against marketplaces. The report highlighted the evolution of online trade in the context of the recent takedowns of Wall Street Market, Valhalla Market, and Deep Dot Web. Law enforcement worldwide is aware of the disruption caused by some of the recent law enforcement operations, and continued suspicion of law enforcement involvement. The dark web remains the key online enabler for trade in an extensive range of criminal products and services and a priority threat for law enforcement.
Recent coordinated law enforcement activities, combined with extensive DDoS attacks, have generated distrust in the Tor environment. While there is evidence administrators are now exploring alternatives, it seems the user-friendliness, existing market variety and customer-base on Tor, makes a full migration to new platforms unlikely just yet.There are increases in single-vendor shops and smaller fragmented markets on Tor, including those catering for specific languages. Some OCGs are also fragmenting their business over a range of online monikers and marketplaces, therefore presenting further challenges for law enforcement.
Encrypted communication applications enhance single-vendor trade on the dark web, helping direct users to services and enabling closed communications. Although there is no evidence of full business migration, there is a risk the group functions could become increasingly used to support illicit trade. Highlighted each year is the volatility of the dark web ecosystem. This continues to be the case, intensified by effective coordinated law enforcement activity in early 2019. Authorities undertook global action against vendors in February, and Dream Market, arguably the largest market at that time, shut down voluntarily, after this. This was supposedly in response to a prolonged and persistent DDoS attack as discussed earlier in section. Soon after law enforcement announced the shutdown of two of the remaining top dark web markets, Wall Street Market and Valhalla, followed by Bestmixer, the mixing and tumbling service hosted in part on the dark web.
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