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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Indian Government Provides Cyber Safety Lessons to Teens to Prevent Dark Web Activity

Delhi police in partnership with local Indian educational institutions and schools have begun to provide cyber safety lessons to teenagers across the country. According to Dependra Pathak, a spokesperson and special commissioner for Delhi Police, the law enforcement agency will teach safe online habits to ensure teenagers don’t get involved in illicit cyber activities and fall victim to illegal operations.

As a start, Delhi Police invited all of the schools in the country to its cyber security workshops and seminars to encourage teachers to plan and establish appropriate cyber security lessons for their students. So far, the cyber security program designed by the cyber cell of Economic Offences Wing was attended by 423 computer teachers from 302 schools in the country.

At the workshops, Delhi Police prepared various short films, presentations, videos, quizzes and FAQs which teachers can then provide to their students. By offering an interactive program, Delhi Police aimed to encourage teenagers to obtain a better understanding of cyber security, safe online habits and illicit activities on the internet and dark web that are prohibited by law enforcement.

“The idea of holding a programme involving teachers was started to ensure that children know about cyber security the day they start learning about computers,” said Pathak.

Starting from July of 2016, the Indian government and law enforcement focused on the crackdown of illicit dark web vendors and activities. On July 17, the Narcotics Control Bureau of India led its first known investigation into a domestic darknet vendor selling drugs on the dark web and distributing them throughout the country. During the investigation, the NCB and other major law enforcement agencies made it clear to the public that illicit dark wbe activities and drug distribution in India are prohibited and will be prosecuted accordingly.

Since then, Indian law enforcement exposed several major dark web operations supplying drugs into the country. On December 2, 2016, DeepDotWeb reported that a dark web drug distribution ring in India were arrested for smuggling xanax into the US. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) cracked down a group eight criminals who smuggled illegal drugs to the US by operating an independent airport. At the time, 15,000 assorted drugs were seized and officials in charge of the investigation said:

“The drugs would be packed in courier covers, sent to Delhi and then exported as health samples by Speed Post. There is no stringent checking of export consignments, making it easier for consignments to pass without hurdles. So, customers began procuring them from India. Here, it is easy to manipulate and drugs are cheaper.”

In consideration of such illicit activities currently ongoing in the dark web and the involvement of many teenagers in illegal operations, Delhi Police stated that the only responsible method of preventing teenagers of entering the dark web out of curiosity and inquisitiveness is to introduce safe online habits and potential legal consequences in participating in illegal dark web operations.

A senior police officer from the Delhi Police said:

“In the past one year over 800 policemen have been trained in cybercrime investigation.”

In December, Steve Wilson, the Europol head of European Cybercrime Center (EC3), raised a similar point as the Delhi Police. Upon the arrest of 34 teenagers guilty of leading dark web operations and launching DDoS attacks, Wilson emphasized the importance of educating teenagers to ensure that they don’t participate in illegal activities.

“Today’s generation is closer to technology than ever before, with the potential of exacerbating the threat of cybercrime. Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cybercrime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry. One of the key priorities of law enforcement should be to engage with these young people to prevent them from pursuing a criminal path, helping them understand how they can use their skills for a more constructive purpose,” said Wilson.


Colorado Man Sentenced For Sharing Fentanyl Resulting In Two Overdose Deaths

A man from Breckenridge, Colorado, the United States was sentenced for ordering fentanyl from the dark web, which he shared with his brother and a friend, who later died from the overdose of the controlled substance.

The 22-year-old Christopher Malcolm purchased the synthetic opioid fentanyl from the darknet, which he supplied to two others, who later died from the fatal use of the drug. The defendant was originally charged with two counts of negligent homicide, however, he later pleaded guilty to the distribution of a controlled substance.

According to Malcolm’s confession, he purchased fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that was responsible for numerous deaths all over the world and opioid crises in multiple countries, from the dark web in late 2015. When the package with the narcotics arrived, he shared the dangerous substance with his brother, Michael, and a friend, Dylan Randall, who both fatally overdosed within hours of each other on September 26. Toxicology reports later showed that the two victims had nearly three times the fatal amounts of fentanyl in their systems. The report also showed that in addition to the synthetic opioid, cocaine was found in the bodies. According to the prosecution, Malcolm supplied a “mixture” of fentanyl and cocaine to his brother and the friend, that’s why both drugs were found in the systems of the victims. Fentanyl is considered as 40 to 50 times stronger than heroin.

Law enforcement authorities arrested Malcolm in June on a warrant for criminally negligent homicide and unlawful distribution, manufacturing, and dispensing or sale of controlled substances, the prosecution stated.

“The prosecution of drug suppliers whose actions result in the death of users continues to be a high priority for this office,” District Attorney Bruce Brown said in a statement. Brown added that the Summit County Sheriff’s Office was in charge of the “difficult and complex” investigation, which they performed with “great expertise and compassion”.

At the Thursday hearing of the defendant, both the families of Dylan Randall and Michael Malcolm spoke about their unfortunate grief, the District Attorney’s Office informed. According to the press release, Chief Judge Mark Thompson said that opioid overdoses are part of the epidemic the United States currently faces, however, the source of the drugs has to “start somewhere”. Judge Thompson stated that acquiring and sharing narcotics has consequences, however, when these crimes have fatal consequences, such as overdose deaths, “the factors” become more significant. The judge emphasized that Malcolm and other drug users have to realize that there are consequences when they purchase and use narcotics.

Judge Thompson sentenced Malcolm to five years in a community corrections facility. Shortly, the 22-year-old will be sent to the Hilltop House in Durango, a corrections center for felons where residents must pay rent and find a job in the community while they participate in rehabilitation programs.

“To users, these drugs are irresistible, even in the face of death,” District Attorney Brown said in the press release. “Today’s sentence doesn’t punish but hopefully deters.” Brown added that his office will continue to use all available resource to work with both the courts and law enforcement authorities in order to address such issues. Brown emphasized the importance that the community should keep an open eye, and should be aware of the “horror that is occurring daily”.


President Trump Signs Cybersecurity Executive Order

On May 11th President Donald Trump signed a long anticipated Executive Order on “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure”. Under the order, the President is holding the heads of federal agencies accountable for managing cybersecurity risks. Each agency must now use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework on cybersecurity. The order also requires agencies to now show a preference for shared IT services when they are procuring services. Cybersecurity for systems related to national defense will be the responsibility of the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, while the cybersecurity of other critical infrastructure will be the responsibility of the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“We’ve seen increasing attacks from allies, adversaries, primarily nation-states, but also non-nation-state actors, and sitting by and doing nothing is no longer an option,” the President’s Homeland Security adviser, Thomas Bossert, said during a briefing at the White House. At the briefing, Bossert denied the order had anything to do with claims of the Russian government hacking the elections. The order does not address the cybersecurity of America’s electoral system, as voting machines are generally an issue left to local elections boards and state governments. Earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared the electoral system a critical infrastructure.

In December of last year, the White House’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity issued a report to President Obama which made recommendations on enhancing cybersecurity for both the outgoing and incoming presidential administrations. President Trump’s new Executive Order does implement some of the recommendations that the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity made in their report last year. One of the commission’s recommendations that President Trump chose to implement was the requirement that the federal government follow NIST’s 2014 cybersecurity framework.

“It is something we have asked the private sector to implement, and not forced upon ourselves…From this point forward, departments and agencies shall practice what we preach,” Bossert commented on the NIST cybersecurity framework implementation requirement of the order, at the briefing. Another recommendation from the commission’s report that President Trump implemented was the recommendation to create a single consolidated federal network. At the briefing, Bossert said the President’s order was meant to centralize the federal government’s cybersecurity risk. According to Bossert, the President’s plan is to view the federal government’s IT as a single enterprise network. Bossert said the government needed to move to the cloud and not fracture their security posture.

President Trump also implemented the commission’s recommendation to move federal agencies to an enterprise risk management approach to cybersecurity. The order requires many reports to be made on each agencies cybersecurity risks. The President also called for international cooperation in his order, which was also a policy recommended by the commission. Some of the recommendations that the commission made that were not implemented dealt with creating public-private partnerships and initiatives with the tech community. However, the order did encourage the growth of the cybersecurity workforce in both the public and private sectors. Cybersecurity risks facing the military-industrial complex and its supply chain will also be assessed in reports required under the order, which may be at least partially classified.

Under the order, the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security will make a report on defending against botnets and distributed threats. Those secretaries will work with the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, the Chairs of the FCC and FTC, and other agencies when making their report. The Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Homeland Security will work with the Director of National Intelligence and local and state governments to make an assessment on the responses to electricity disruptions. The report will also assess the preparedness and any shortcomings the United States has in responding to prolonged power outages caused by a cyber attack.

The President also stated in the order that his administration’s policy shall be to “promote an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet that fosters efficiency, innovation, communication, and economic prosperity, while respecting privacy and guarding against disruption, fraud, and theft.” The signing of the order was timed to coincide with the administration’s effort to modernize the government’s IT services. Earlier this month President Trump signed an order which dealt with his IT modernization initiative.


Slovakian Authorities Charged A Past Member Of PlayPen Child Porn Site

After the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested the administrator then took control of the child porn website PlayPen, investigators all over the world arrested about 900 users of the illicit site. A week ago, Swiss authorities reported that they detained 42 suspects who were alleged members of PlayPen. Now, an additional defendant was arrested in Slovakia who is accused of charges relating to child pornography.

In December 2014, the FBI took control of the PlayPen child porn website for 13 days after arresting the administrator. While the Bureau was controlling the website, they uploaded malware, which they call NITs (Network Investigative Techniques), which provided them the IP address of the users who logged on in that 13 days. With the IP addresses acquired, the FBI had an easy job tracking down the criminals to their actual location. From 2015 to now, the federal agency managed to start investigations against hundreds of suspects, and law enforcement authorities all over the world arrested about 900 users of the child porn website.

Soon after the public was informed about Operation Pacifier (the law enforcement action led by the FBI and the US Department of Justice), the FBI received negative criticism from privacy advocates stating that the agency breached the civil liberties of the suspects. Additionally, some federal judges in the United States had ruled against the warrant the Federal Bureau of Investigation used in the course of the operation.

In connection with the PlayPen child porn website, 870 suspects were arrested worldwide with 368 of them located in Europe. According to the FBI’s report, 296 child victims of sexual abuse were rescued of identified internationally, the Bureau added that the vast majority of the abused children are located outside of the US. The Federal Bureau of Investigation declared Operation Pacifier as the most successful law enforcement action against criminals who are located on the Tor network. One of the investigators said that Operation Pacifier was “one of the largest and most complex investigations ever undertaken in this field”.

“We were only able to pull it off with a lot of support from our international partners and field offices,” Special Agent Dan Alfin, who investigated the case as part of the Bureau’s Violent Crimes Against Children section, said in a statement.

The notorious PlayPen website on the dark web, while it was up and running, allowed its 150,000 online members to anonymously upload and access tens of thousands of illegal child porn images and videos. According to law enforcement authorities, the site’s child abuse content was indexed by age, sex, and type of sexual activity involved, with one section focusing exclusively on toddlers and another on incest.

The 58-year-old Steven Chase, who created PlayPen and was the lead administrator of the website, from Florida, was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this week, with two other administrators jailed for 20 years. Law enforcement authorities started an investigation against Chase soon after the website launched in the summer of 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation stated that they had become aware of the child porn website, however, “given the nature of how Tor hidden services work, there was not much we could do about it,” Special Agent Alfin said. The investigation went on until December 2014, when a gap on the PlayPen website was discovered by foreign law enforcement authorities, who alerted the FBI. The PlayPen site has been down for more than two years, however, the FBI warned that similar sites continue to operate on the dark web providing child pornography content for their users.

“It’s ongoing and we continue to address the threat to the best of our abilities,” said Alfin. “It’s the same with any criminal violation: As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them.

On May 7, the Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) in Switzerland reported that law enforcement authorities arrested 42 suspects, who they believed that were the past members of the PlayPen child porn site. According to Cathy Maret, a spokeswoman for the Fedpol, the United States provided information to the Swiss Federal Office of Police in 46 cases. The report by the US authorities led to 42 arrests and criminal proceedings. In the police operation, apart from Fedpol, 14 cantonal and local police forces were involved.

According to Maret, the majority of the criminal proceedings were directed at consumers of child pornography, however, more serious sexual crimes were also discovered during the law enforcement operation. For example, investigators uncovered new information on a sexual assault case, which was committed ten years ago against a child. The suspect, who was unmasked by the FBI, is in temporary custody in Switzerland. The prosecution charged the defendant with 12 counts of sexual assault.

In the fight against the spread of child pornography content on the internet, the number of suspicious cases had seen a major increase in Switzerland, Maret said. The spokeswoman explained that this increase is the result of numerous reports received from the FBI. Last year, Europol received data from the United States on approximately 3,000 cases, where Swiss citizens were allegedly in connection with child pornography. After the Europol had received the information from US law enforcement authorities, they transferred it to Swiss authorities. The Fedpol took over the investigation, examined the data, and forwarded to the cantonal judicial authorities.

US law enforcement authorities gathered the data from internet service providers (ISPs), who filter all the data traffic, the spokeswoman said. When suspicious content is found, providers warn US authorities, who apparently sent the bulk of the information to the Swiss Federal Police.

Recently, Slovakian law enforcement authorities accused a defendant of child porn-related charges. A spokeswoman for the Police Force, Denisa Baloghová, confirmed that investigators have identified a number of users of “encrypted sites containing child pornography” (the spokeswoman was possibly referring to the PlayPen site) in Slovakia on the basis of information Europol provided. Baloghová said that Slovakian law enforcement authorities have examined and processed the received information, and used the data to identify “several users” of the network.

Investigators carried out a search warrant on a man who is suspected of being a past member of the PlayPen child pornography site. Now, Slovakian authorities have charged the suspect. According to Baloghová, the investigators started a criminal procedure against the defendant for the crime of distribution of child pornography material. The spokeswoman added that more information will be released in the case when the investigation is finished. By the laws of the country, the accused can face a prison sentence between three to eight years.

Former police detective Martin Kubík said that in a case like this, law enforcement authorities execute a search warrant on the suspect, gathering evidence from the defendant’s apartment, including computers and other electronic equipment, data, or other evidence. After the forensic examination of the electronic devices, it can be evaluated whether the suspect visited or downloaded child pornography material. Kubík added that this part of the investigation is quite simple.


Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Almost Ended Up In Jail Due To A Water Leak In 2011

Ross Ulbricht, the convicted administrator of the infamous Silk Road Marketplace, was almost arrested by law enforcement authorities thanks to a water leak in 2011.

According to American Kingpin, a new book by Nick Bilton documenting the rise and fall of Silk Road, Ulbricht started cultivating hallucinogenic mushrooms in early 2011. His master plan was to grow and harvest the mushrooms, then advertise the drug as the first listing on the Silk Road Marketplace. He hoped that the profits generated from the sale of the substance would earn him tens of thousands of dollars, but most importantly, it would kickstart the website. After the site has launched, Ulbricht planned to switch the form of the income from selling drugs to earning commissions from other narcotics dealers vending their illicit products on the Silk Road Marketplace.

For growing the mushrooms, the Silk Road founder rented a shabby apartment on the outskirts of Austin, Texas for $450 per month in a location he knew only. He only took his girlfriend, Julia, there once, however. Ulbricht insisted that the woman should wear a blindfold during her round trip journey. According to Bilton’s book, the convicted criminal grew enough mushrooms that would fill two large rubbish bags. Ulbricht tested the potency of the substance, and was ready to harvest the mushrooms and list them on the Silk Road Marketplace, however, he almost got busted doing so.

According to Bilton, Austin was in a middle of a heat wave in that part of the year, and somehow there was a water leak in the apartment housing where Ulbricht grew the mushrooms. When the landlord went in the apartment to check the flood, he was surprised when he found the Silk Road administrator’s “drug laboratory”. Irate, the landlord, called Ross on the phone to tell him that his next call would be to the police. As soon as Ulbricht learned the news, he jumped in his truck and sped across the town to retrieve the mushrooms and clean the whole apartment, destroying all evidence that would point to his drug business. “Ross tore through the space… and thankfully screeched away just in time,” Bilton writes in his book. When Ulbricht returned home to Julia on that evening, he was “so shaken it took Julia hours to calm him”. According to the book, the thought of what would have happened if law enforcement authorities arrested the man put him “on the edge of a panic attack”.

While this near-disaster would have been enough to discourage most wannabe drug dealers from continuing their activities, Ulbricht’s fear quickly turned into determination to launch the Silk Road Marketplace, sell the mushrooms and create an era where Silk Road dominated the darknet in the sale of illegal products and services. After some time passed from the unfortunate incident with the water leak and the landlord’s visit, Ulbricht launched the Silk Road Marketplace in late January. He advertised his site on a website called “Shroomery” at 4:20pm local time on January 27, claiming that he was a random visitor who stumbled across the site encouraging others to check it out. The marketing plan of Ross Ulbricht worked as days later, the first customers began to arrive to the Silk Road site.

On May 29, 2015, Ross Ulbricht was given a life sentence in prison. The administrator of the darknet marketplace was handed five sentences: one for 20 years, one for 15 years, one for five years, and two for life. All are to be served concurrently with no chance of parole. Additionally to the man’s prison sentence, Ulbricht was also ordered to pay a restitution of more than $183 million, what the prosecution had estimated to be the total income from the sale of illegal drugs and counterfeit IDs conducted through the Silk Road Marketplace. When law enforcement authorities raided the home of the defendant, they had confiscated a laptop where they found the bitcoin wallet of the suspect. The restitution fee was paid from the actual balance of the BTC Ulbricht had. In 2015, US Marshals auctioned the bitcoins of the Silk Road admin for a discounted price.


German Grew Mushrooms And Ordered Cannabis From The Dark Web

Law enforcement authorities detained a man from the District of Regen, Germany for ordering equipment used for mushroom growing and cannabis from the dark web, and for cultivating magic mushrooms.

In the middle of October 2016, the customs authorities in Frankfurt intercepted a package containing approximately 90 grams of cannabis addressed to the 22-year-old suspect from the District of Regen. Shortly after the package was seized, the public prosecutor’s office in Deggendorf issued a warrant to search the house of the defendant. When law enforcement authorities searched the home of the 22-year-old, they found 400 grams of magic mushrooms containing psilocybin and small amounts of hashish. The narcotics were confiscated by officials of the Münich Central Office.

According to information provided by the police, two separate investigations were started against the suspect. One was started by the Main Customs Office in Münich, while the other investigation was launched by the Deggendorf criminal police department. The latter is investigating whether the suspect was involved in the violation of the narcotics law. Further proceedings were continued by the Deggendorf criminal police department. When law enforcement authorities interrogated the suspect, he confessed to the charges of cultivation, own consumption, and the resale of magic mushrooms. According to the police, the 22-year-old purchased equipment to grow the hallucinogenic substance from the dark web. Investigators did not provide information on what kind of equipment did the suspect purchase to grow the mushrooms. However, the most popular items to grow hallucinogenic mushrooms are mushroom growing kits, which are sold on both the clearnet (the “normal” part of the internet everyone knows) and on the dark web from 45 euros (approximately 49 US dollars). The investigations showed that the defendant not only cultivated mushrooms for his own personal use, but he also resold the drug to his customers. Law enforcement authorities identified 11 customers of the 22-year-old, they are considering pressing charges against them. It is unclear, however, whether the defendant sold only mushrooms to his customers or he sold cannabis too.

On Wednesday, May 10, law enforcement authorities were ordered by the District Court of Deggendorf to issue house searches against some of the customers of the defendant in the district of Regen. With the aid and the support of staff from the PP Niederbayern, consumer goods, small quantities of marijuana, and a forbidden switchblade was found by investigators in the house of the suspects.

Additionally, the investigations uncovered that most of the customers of the 22-year-old were minors aged between 16 and 17 years. With this fact known, the punishment given to the defendant could be more severe. According to the Narcotics Act in Germany, in cases where suspects sold drugs to minors, they should be sentenced for a minimum of one year in prison. Police information disclosed that after the interrogation of the 22-year-old, law enforcement authorities released the suspect from police custody.


Philippine Police Arrest Several in Massive CP Operation

After an international tip, authorities in the Philippines​ arrested another pedophile akin to Peter Scully. Like Scully, this child abuse advocate played some role in an international child abuse network. The abusers live-streamed child pornography​ and torture, via the darknet, to thousands of viewers worldwide. They arrested the Queensland man while he attempted to erase some of the data in his possession. He did not succeed.

Police found a tablet that contained 4,000 contacts involved in the network. Some watchers, some child traffickers, and many unknown. The Australian Federal Police, like in the Scully case, immediately acted on the data—as did the Philippine authorities.

The arrest and seizure of hard drives, computers, and other storage devices has been called the largest of its kind in the country. The Australian Federal Police, as of early May, saved numerous children and helped Philippine authorities arrest more members of the ring. (The full details of which have not been disclosed.)

The recent arrest of the 53-year-old David Timothy Deakin set the police operation in motion. Deakin lived in the Philippines since 2001 and avoided detection until recently when the AFP contributed to his arrest. After his arrest, he claimed that he only watched the videos and live streams. And then shortly after that, he turned around and said that the illicit material likely slipped onto his computer while he was downloading something else.

However, not unlike one of Scully’s child sex dens, his apartment indicated that Deakin played more than the role of a victim or a viewer. Police described the apartment as a filthy one, both in its state and the material contents within. One publication stated that Deakn turned the apartment into a “cyber sex den” from which he streamed child abuse and pornography videos. Inside the apartment, they found rope, children’s clothing “other bondage materials,” video cameras, and stacks of hard drives.

Information from the AFP also saved three sisters from the so-called “cybersex industry.” (Some children reportedly received $10 for participation.) Authorities in the Philippines rescued the children and arrested the mother of the girls, an impoverished widow. Authorities reported that she was responsible for human trafficking and forcing the girls into explicit interactions that appeared on the darknet. Now, and linked to the three children specifically, police arrested two more female accomplices.

Even though the the darknet, in practice, keeps users anonymous, Philippine police expect many more arrests in the coming days and weeks. Although the network interacted on darknet, the addition of a 4,000 person contact list changes the dynamic of the investigation. We don’t know exactly what the contact list reveals, but it surely tops entering investigation blindly.

The Australian Federal Police played a role in many recent darknet related arrests. This includes those in the Philippines—the center of the cybersex industry, further enabled by the advancement of technology. Now that those responsible for child sex trafficking and child pornography production can reach across the globe with videos and live streams, the crimes against children only grow worse. Incidentally, the AFP only get better at hunting down darknet criminals.

Of note: authorities are concerned that Peter Scully runs his massive child abuse network from behind bars.


German Attorney General We Only Catch The Stupid Criminals

Andreas May, the Attorney General of Frankfurt, said that law enforcement authorities in Germany only arrest those darknet criminals who are “stupid”.

Dark web crime in Germany had seen a rapid increase in the past year. In recent months, law enforcement authorities in the country had arrested and prosecuted numerous criminals who were using the dark web to purchase illicit products, including counterfeit euro bills, weapons, drugs, but there was even a case where two suspects were detained for running a fake Microsoft support center. According to a research conducted by the Frankfurt Airport authorities, officials have found more narcotics arriving in the mail than at travelers entering the country. The research of the Frankfurt Customs Office claimed that the world of drug smuggling had changed from carrying the substances on a human body to shipping narcotics in mail. Authorities reported that they had seen a 232 percent increase in drug seizures by customs offices throughout Germany.

According to May, the share of darknet users residing in Germany is “disappointing”. Only about two to three percent of the dark web community are speaking German. The attorney general cited estimates that approximately 50 percent of the activities conducted on the dark web are illegal in some way. However, he also pointed out that the majority of these offenses have such “attributes” that the pursuit of the criminals would not be worthwhile in view of the effort involved.

May said that technically there is nothing much that law enforcement authorities can do to unmask darknet users, referring to the anonymity of the Tor network. The attorney general added that they only arrest criminals who are “stupid”. According to his experience, arms traders selling their products on the dark web are often “neither professionals nor criminal”.

“Often, we are dealing with very low-spirited people, who even meet with us personally, after whom we have ordered weapons. We then make use of the Leniency Notice,” May said.

The offer is – simply said – lesser punishment in exchange for accounts and shops. A large number of the criminals are willing to cooperate in further investigations, according to May.

“You can imagine – if they continue to operate the shops, we can collect their customers sooner or later,” the attorney general explained.

The attorney general pointed out that it is not possible for German authorities to disrupt the Tor Network or hack Tor nodes. However, investigators can go undercover. They could either disguise as potential buyers, or they can also create seller accounts on darknet marketplaces. In the latter case, law enforcement authorities advertise illicit products, such as firearms and ammunition, wait until someone conducts a successful transaction, and they arrest the criminal when he tries to retrieve the product from the post office.

“Here we have all possibilities to work with our conventional methods,” May said.

According to May, however, entering this gray area is “highly risky” for law enforcement authorities. The attorney general said that they have to document and prove everything they do during the investigation. Additionally, investigators also have to prove that they were adhering to the laws while performing undercover techniques on darknet criminals.


DNM Vendors Still Selling Fake Euros, Despite German Crackdown

The counterfeit currency industry, in 2016, bloomed on the darknet and impacted specific regions far more than others. DeepDotWeb readers need no convincing that Germany has struggled with an influx​ of counterfeit currency, tickets, and nearly anything else worth counterfeiting. Even though Germany’s darknet crackdown started with weapons, a recent warning from the Federal Criminal Police Office revealed that counterfeits are still an issue.

BKA President Holger Münch explained that the number of counterfeit euros in circulation dropped since the year prior. The figures he gave backed up some predictions from German authorities last year. Part of the reason for the decline, he told the press in Wiesbaden, was that “more and more manufacturing facilities were identified in the recent year.”

Last year, in the first half of the year, counterfeit currency arrests contributed to the majority of the darknet-connected arrests. Then, we saw the fall of part of the NapoliGroup—responsible for some of the best counterfeits in the world. In 2014, the NapoliGroup controlled 90% of the counterfeit circulation. They sold counterfeits through several syndicates worldwide before branching into the darknet.

The Naples-centric counterfeiting ring did not control the counterfeit arena to a degree so great that their downfall alone caused the market’s decline. Law enforcement, as demonstrated time and time again, adapts and learns along with criminals. Police simply got better at their job.

The LKA, for instance, reported 7,000 counterfeit euro seizures in Hanover. Based on detection statistics and a growing identification rate from stores and banks, LKA spokesperson Nevin Ayyildiz announced the 2017 prediction. The spokesperson explained that Germany should see a “moderate decline” of 10% in 2017. The reason, according to the spokesperson, was that small shops and stores “were learning to identify the fake currency.” Banks already knew how.

Holger Münch explained that one of the biggest problems for shutting down online counterfeit sales, in general, was that the entire process can start and finish through the mail. All required “ingredients” could be made or ordered from other darknet vendors. Holograms, printers, security strips. Depends on the currency and note itself.

However, he explained that the number was down by 13% from the previous year. Investigations increased by 18% with an increase in suspects as well—a 13% increase to 3,454. Counterfeit production was up but circulation was down. That being said, he closed by explaining that damage caused by counterfeit euro notes hit an all-time high since the introduction of the euro.

Another case of law enforcement getting more competent or just the opposite – good counterfeiters making notes more difficult to detect while the unskilled counterfeiters fall behind?


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Korupsi di Sekolah Semakin Canggih

Otonomi pendidikan tidak sepenuhnya berdampak baik. Dari sisi anggaran, celah dan model korupsi di sekolah semakin canggih. Beberapa di antaranya bahkan menyalahi nilai luhur pendidikan yang seharusnya diajarkan.

Hal ini terungkap dari penelitian Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) sepanjang tahun 2013 hingga 2017. Menurut Ade Irawan, Kepala Divisi Monitoring Pelayanan Publik ICW, masalahnya terletak pada hubungan antara sekolah dengan dinas pendidikan. Otonomi sekolah yang diwujudkan melalui program Manajemen Berbasis Sekolah tidak benar-benar membuat sekolah otonom. “Dinas masih bisa mengontrol mereka,” katanya kepada hukumonline di Jakarta, Rabu (9/2).

Sekolah mudah dikontrol karena dinas masih berwenang menentukan proyek yang dapat dilaksanakan sekolah. Juga, mengatur penempatan (mutasi) kepala sekolah. Ade mengatakan, kewenangan ini dijadikan alat bagi dinas untuk meminta sejumlah ‘upeti’ dari sekolah. “Sekolah harus setor ke dinas, dan pembagian upeti di hari besar untuk para guru ” ujarnya.

Ade mengungkapkan, ada dua jenis setoran yang harus diberikan sekolah pada dinas. Pertama, disebut investment corruption. “Artinya, kepala sekolah ‘berinvestasi’ ke dinas. Tanpa diminta pun dia rutin memberikan uang,” jelasnya.

Menurut Ade, hal ini dilakukan agar posisi kepala sekolah aman dari mutasi ke tempat yang tidak diinginkan. Selain itu, agar proyek dinas diprioritaskan ke sekolahnya.

Jenis kedua disebut extortion. Dalam hal ini dinas yang secara aktif meminta dana dari kepala sekolah. “Misalnya dana Bantuan Operasional Sekolah sudah turun, sekitar 10-20 persen pasti diminta untuk dinas. Bisa dilakukan oleh kepala dinas maupun pegawai dinas. Ini kita sebut pemerasan,” tegasnya.

Kondisi ini mendorong sekolah untuk ‘kreatif’ mencari sumber pendanaan. Selain membebankan biaya kepada murid, banyak cara lain dilakukan sekolah. Misalnya, ICW menemukan manipulasi kuitansi di sejumlah sekolah di Aceh. “Kuitansi belanja ada, tapi barangnya tidak ada,” jelasnya.

Lebih parah, sejumlah dana yang didapat sekolah untuk keperluan perlengkapan proses belajar tidak dipakai sama sekali. Ketika ada pemeriksaan, sekolah justru menyewa barang-barang tersebut. “Cuma disewa selama pemeriksaan agar terlihat ada barangnya,” kata dia. 

Sayangnya, kata Ade, modus-modus korupsi di sekolah seperti itu seringkali tidak dianggap bermasalah. Sebab, jumlahnya kecil dan tidak melibatkan orang-orang yang dianggap penting. “Dianggap hanya korupsi kecil-kecilan dan terjadi pembiaran. Kalaupun ada kepala sekolah yang dikenai sanksi, hanya mutasi atau pengembalian uang korupsi,” katanya.

Permasalahan ini diamini Wakil Menteri Pendidikan Nasional, “Penyelenggaraan pendidikan di Indonesia memang belum sepenuhnya baik,” ujarnya.

Otonomi daerah yang menyertakan otonomi pendidikan memang berpotensi memunculkan penguasa baru di daerah. Apalagi, sistem komando pusat ala orde baru masih menjiwai sekolah negeri. “Budaya menyenangkan atasan masih kuat,” katanya.

Karena alasan itulah program manajemen berbasis sekolah diluncurkan. Pogram ini menekankan pentingnya peranan sekolah yang otonom, dan peranan orang tua serta masyarakat Sekolah diberikan kepercayaan untuk mengatur dan mengurus kebutuhan sendiri. “Program ini jadi jalan untuk memperbaiki profesionalisme penyelenggaraan sekolah,” lanjutnya.

Kemudian, program manajemen berbasis sekolah diperkuat dengan pembentukan komite sekolah. Komite ini terdiri dari perwakilan orang tua dan guru. “Kalau ini dijalankan dengan baik, tentu pengelolaan sekolah akan bagus,” ujarnya.

Namun, Ade menepis pembentukan komite sekolah sebagai solusi perbaikan. Berdasarkan penelitian ICW, komite sekolah justru seringkali dibajak oleh kepala sekolah untuk kepentingannya.

Hal ini karena mekanisme pembentukan komite belum jelas. Tidak ada aturan yang menegaskan mengenai pihak yang dapat menjadi anggota komite, cara memilihnya, dan bentuk pertanggungjawaban komite. “Akibatnya, komite dan wakil kepala sekolah diisi oleh orang-orang yang dekat dengan kepsek sehingga fungsinya tidak jalan,” sergah dia.


Barclays to Renovate Security, Hopes to Cut Fraud by 75%

Barclays called financial fraud a “national resilience issue” in a recent anti-fraud announcement wherein they spoke of the prevalence of the so-called “invisible” crime. The bank revealed plans for a $12 million advertising campaign as a step towards fraud prevention. Younger account holders between the ages of 25 and 34 were at twice the risk for financial fraud than “older generations,” Barclays said. And the new campaign reflects those statistics; it places special focus on the younger aged men and women, along with “those living in urban areas.”

They will make changes to the Barclays mobile application as well. Some of the changes they plan on bringing to the table already exist in other mobile applications; they are not groundbreaking updates. For instance, the ability to lock your credit or debit card remotely exists in roughly half of the Android banking applications for major US banks and slightly more than half for iOS apps.

The control may be more granular than many applications I examined; for instance, the app will allow cardholders to “instantly turn off and on the functions that allow their card to be used to make remote purchases.” Additionally, users of the new app can set their own ATM withdrawal limits—likely not above the maximum withdrawal limit on the account previously defined by the bank.

The chief executive of Barclays UK said: “Fraud is often wrongly described as an invisible crime, but the effects are no less damaging to people’s lives [than readily visible crimes]. He explained that, “as a society, our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely.”

Barclays head of digital safety, Laura Flack, spoke of the “cyber-fraudster” and how everyone likely knows someone affected by a financial cybercrime.

“Crooks are using ever more sophisticated tactics to trick people into handing over their bank details, or to pay money to a fraudster when they believe they are simply paying their builder or solicitor,” she explained. Barclays research revealed that 17 percent of individuals do nothing after an attack on their finances. This, along with prevention in the first place, is what Barclays aims to change.

Barclays believes that if people followed these security tips, fraud could be reduced 75 percent:

Never give out your full online banking pin, passcode or password to anyone – even a caller claiming to be from the police or your bank.
Do not click on any link or open an attachment on any email you receive which is unsolicited.
Avoid letting someone you do not know have access to your computer, especially remotely.


Dark Web Pedo Sentenced 13 Years in Prison

Roy Harvender Jr. from New Castle County, Delaware, a 59-year-old member of Website 19, a dark web child pornography darknet marketplace which fully operated from 2012 to 2014, was arrested and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Harvender, who is better known in the dark web as ricenbeans, actively engaged in the distribution and acquisition of child pornography on the Website 19 darknet marketplace. Unlike other dark web sites which simply require payments in bitcoin for access to illicit child pornography, Website 19 had a strict rule which required members such as Harvender to submit or distribute child pornography in order to access other files in the marketplace.

Although police have not found footages of child pornography stored in the local computers and other devices of Harvender, he pled guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography to the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In addition to the initial 13-year sentence, Harvender is required to comply to 10 years of probation and pay a $5,000 restitution fee to his victims.

According to the court document obtained by The Register, Harvender was taken down by authorities when an undisclosed foreign law enforcement agency codenamed FLA 1 arrested one of the operators of Website 19. The operator agreed to help local law enforcement to reveal the identities of other members of Website 19 and potentially crackdown their illicit operations. While the motivation of the operator is not clearly stated in the court document, it is highly likely that the operator was offered a deal for his contributions to FLA 1.

Essentially, investigators at FLA 1 utilized a similar method which the FBI used to unravel the identities of cyber criminals and child pornography distributors on PlayPen, the infamous darknet marketplace. With the consent and agreement of the operator, FLA 1 took over Website 19 with the sole intent of unraveling the identities of Website 19 members. In November 2014, FLA 1 investigators decided to upload a hyperlink to the dark web site which was specifically developed to lead the members to an external internet connection outside of the anonymous Tor network. Such rerouting of connections enabled FLA 1 to obtain the actual IP address of Harvender. The court document read:

“FLA 1 advised the FBI that in early November 2014, acting independently and according to its own national laws, FLA 1 uploaded a hyperlink to a file within a forum on Website 19 that was accessible only to registered members of Website 19. The hyperlink was advertised as a preview of a child pornography website with streaming video. When a Website 19 user clicked on that hyperlink, the user was advised that the user was attempting to open a video file from an external website. If the user chose to open the file, a video file containing images of child pornography began to play, and FLA 1 captured and recorded the IP address of the user accessing the file. FLA 1 configured the video file to open an internet connection outside of the [Tor] network software, thereby allowing FLA 1 to capture the user’s actual IP address, as well as a session identifier to tie the IP address to the activity of a particular Website 19 user account.”

Over the past few months, DeepDotWeb offered extensive coverage on the status of FBI’s PlayPen investigation. DeepDotWeb most recently reported that David Lynn Browning, a 47-year-old moderator of PlayPen, received a 20-year sentence for promoting child pornography.

However, FBI ran into conflict with the court in regard to its warrant controversy surrounding the usage of a Network Investigative Technique (NIT). The software, which effectively de-anonymizes Tor upon its activation, was said to be used with a vague and ambiguous approach to investigation.

Ultimately, FBI had to dismiss a large number of cases involving PlayPen after the law enforcement agency declined to reveal the specifications of NIT. In contrast, FLA 1 did obtain consent and agreement from the operator of Website 19 and thus, did not run into conflict with existing regulations and policies.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Victim Rescued In Brazil’s First Bitcoin Ransom Kidnapping Plot

Recently, law enforcement authorities successfully rescued a kidnapped woman in São Paulo, Brazil. The criminals who kidnapped the woman demanded bitcoins and another form of cryptocurrency from the victim’s husband.

A 32-year-old woman was rescued from the hands of criminals by the Civil Police in São Paulo, Brazil at the end of April. The victim, who is married to a bitcoin businessman was kidnapped in Florianopolis on April 26. According to the local media outlet Diário Catarinense, the criminals demanded a ransom from the husband in the form of bitcoins and in another unnamed cryptocurrency. According to the police information, the kidnappers approached the victim after she dropped her daughter off at the school, which was 50 meters away from the woman’s home. The criminals pushed the victim inside of their car and drove away. While the criminals were on their way inside the city, with the kidnapped woman, they contacted the victim’s husband demanding the ransom in cryptocurrencies. They sent the man a video of the woman saying that she was kidnapped and telling the man that she didn’t know where she was.

“Early on in the investigation, I spoke with a few colleagues from all over Brazil and there was never a kidnap attempt in which a payment in virtual currency was demanded. This is unprecedented in Brazil. The main goal was to expedite the transaction, but that wasn’t possible,” Anselmo Cruz, the officer in charge of the investigations at the State Department of Criminal Investigations (DEIC – Departamento De Investigações Sobre Crime in Portuguese), said in a statement. According to Cruz, this is the first instance when criminals in a kidnapping plot demanded bitcoins or any other forms of cryptocurrencies in such cases in Brazil. The officer added that access to bitcoin would be given by the victim’s husband.

After the criminals contacted the husband of the victim, he immediately alerted law enforcement authorities. The police started negotiating with the perpetrators, who demanded “large amounts” of the cryptocurrency from the husband, in an attempt to delay paying the ransom. During the negotiating attempts, the husband told the criminals that bitcoin’s trading volume in the country wasn’t large enough for him to have the demanded amount available.

Since bitcoin, along with most of the cryptocurrencies, is very difficult to trace even for highly-trained law enforcement authorities or agencies, the Civil Police in Brazil had a hard time tracking down the criminals. When the kidnappers sent an address to the husband where to send the demanded cryptocurrencies, law enforcement authorities were able to determine the location of the criminals. After the police were able to locate the criminals, they raided the location and rescued the woman during the negotiations.

“It was a very difficult operation, but we managed to free the person. She isn’t injured,” Officer Raphael Werling, who participated in the operation, said.

According to the police, the victim was handpicked, and there were at least six people involved in the crime. So far, only one of them has been arrested. The investigation is ongoing.

“They thought they would have a very large facility for the ransom paid in virtual currency.” From there, there was a negotiation between the victim with the kidnappers, and in this interval, the division was able to locate the victim,” Cruz said in a statement.

The husband told the local news agencies that he was relieved that law enforcement authorities were able to rescue his wife. Their daughter turned six on April 29, and, according to the husband, having her mother back was the best birthday gift she could ever get.


Universities In Michigan Rank The Highest Among Stolen .edu Email Addresses

According to a recent report, the University of Michigan and the Michigan State University rank the highest on the list of stolen .edu email addresses, which are sold on the dark web.

The US media outlet reported that the two universities within the state of Michigan topped the list of stolen .edu email accounts. The news outlet emphasized the increasing number of cyber attacks happening in the world right now. It is a fact, however, that cybercriminals, using different high-tech methods, are constantly looking for personal information, including banking and credit card details, email addresses, date of birth, and much more, that they can steal from the victims and make big profits from selling the data. Since there are new ways, tools, and techniques for stealing such information, the number of attacks targeting precious personal information has grown in the recent years. Criminals, most of them part of the darknet community, has a big variety of tools and guides offered for sale (and for free too) on different forums and marketplaces on the dark side of the internet, from which they can choose from. With these tools and techniques, cybercriminals can launch attacks on the victims, who are residing in mostly Western countries such as the United States, that could result in the loss of precious data, which can be devastating for the victims. For example, a perfectly mastered phishing email form could trick victims into giving their personal information to the criminals. When the hackers are in possession of such data, they could either use that for their personal schemes or sell them on the dark web for profits.

A March 29th report by the Digital Citizens Alliance revealed that darknet criminals are selling millions of .edu email addresses and passwords on marketplaces and forums. The researchers based their study on:

– Rankings showing the total number of stolen credentials for the 300 largest university and college communities found within sites on the dark web.

– Sites selling Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) credentials on the dark web. These e-mails include those stolen from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as criminals who have created fake e-mails.

– Clear websites where vendors sell credentials.

– Why fake e-mails are valuable and how they can be used in scams.

“During eight years of scanning the Dark Web, ID Agent researchers have discovered 13,930,176 e-mail addresses and passwords belonging to faculty, staff, students, and alumni at U.S. HEIs available to cyber criminals on Dark Web sites. 79 percent of the nearly 14 million credentials were discovered by ID Agent researchers over the 12 months,” the Digital Citizens Alliance stated in a press release.

The report also showed that out of 300 colleges and universities, the University of Michigan topped the list of stolen .edu email addresses with 122,556. Michigan State University was right behind it, with the number of 115,973.

“The way that some of these are being used are just to get discounts for various things that offer discounts to .edu college accounts,” Cale Sauter, Communications Director for Liquid Web, said in a statement. He also added that this kind of “email-selling” is a common practice within cybercriminals. “If they [the cybercriminals] figure out the password for that [the email addresses], they may have a password that would lead to bank accounts or someone’s credit. A lot of hackers are having their spam emails sent directly to a spam folder or more easily identified, sometimes they can get through that by using a .edu email address,” says Sauter, saying that since .edu email addresses are commonly trusted among websites on the internet, it makes them more worth for the criminals.

In total, cybercriminals stole more than 400,000 email addresses from schools in Michigan, according to the report. However, researchers claimed that the criminals did not acquire the emails from a massive data breach, rather, from sites where people have used their .edu email addresses and passwords, such as for online shopping or to log in to social media platforms.

Experts say it’s a good idea to log into old email accounts and change the password to something more secure, adding things such as capital letters, numbers, and symbols to make the account more secure.


Mystery Device on Dark Web Allows Criminals to Steal Cars

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has warned drivers against a mystery device currently being circulated around the dark web. According to Roger Morris from NICB, a device that is currently being sold on darknet marketplaces enables hackers and criminals to steal cars by relaying a smart key’s signal to a secondary device.

Essentially, with two data relaying devices, criminals can hack into a car’s smart-lock system to open its doors and initiate its engine without its system ever being alert. The entire process requires two devices; one is used to intercept the original key’s fab signal and the second device is used to obtain the signal intercepted and relayed by the first device to gain access to the car.

In an extensive investigation, Morris tested the newly circulating car-hacking method on 35 different cars from various brands or car makers. Morris and his team of investigators discovered that the method was able to intercept car key signals of 19 cars out of the 35. More importantly, Morris and his team were able to initiate the engines of 18 cars out of the 19 and drive off.

Morris stated:

“Nineteen of them, we were able to open and get into. Eighteen of them, we were able to start with the device and drive off.”

While the crackdown on the dealers of the abovementinoed devices by the law enforcement is necessary and important, Cape Coral cyber security expert Sharon Harkison explained that the issue is more complicated that it seems. Although already-built devices can be acquired and obtained from the dark web, the software supporting these devices are made readily available to anyone.

Therefore, young adults or teenagers with some knowledge in computer engineering and programming can simply find the source code and design a completely new device which carries the same functions. By doing so, it makes it that much more difficult for law enforcement agencies to differentiate car-stealing devices from actual car keys.

“A teenager can go on the internet and find the source code and the programming code to make these devices very easily. When it comes down to it, if you want security, you’re going to have to go back to the old-fashioned key to open and close the car,” said Harkisoon.

Most importantly, because the entire process does not leave any sort of trace for the law enforcement and investigators, it is not possible to prove anyone guilty of using the method without hard evidence. For instance, the only evidence that could potentially be accepted and acknowledged would be a black box footage of the theft of the car. Other than that, because the data-relaying car-hacking method does not leave any digital trace, it is more difficult for law enforcement agencies to trackdown.

Stan Potter, general manager at Koons Locksmiths stated:

“It’s not something there’s a great deal of understanding about. I’m not aware of any specific way to prevent this type of crime. I mean obviously be aware of your surroundings, and just good general practices.”

Although radio frequency-blocking (RFID-blocking) key fob protectors can prevent such hacking attacks, it would be impractical to leave the protectors on at all times to potentially avoid the abovementinoed situation. Also, commercially available RFID-blocking protectors only work if the key is actually placed inside them, which usually are manufactured in the forms of bags. Thus, if a key is taken out of the bag to either lock the door of the car or initiate the engine, it can become vulnerable to the attack.


Jamaican Dark Net Heroin Vendor Sentenced To Federal Prison In The US

A Jamaican citizen, who was living in the United States, was sentenced to prison for drug trafficking on the darknet.

Chrissano Leslie, a 26-year-old from Miramar, Florida, was standing trial at a federal court for charges of drug-dealing, money-laundering conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft. After law enforcement authorities arrested the man at his home, he pleaded guilty to the four federal charges. He admitted he used a variety of online aliases – including “owlcity” – when he traded on several marketplaces on the darknet. He also admitted that he sold a wide variety of drugs, including anti-anxiety pills, fentanyl, “China White” heroin, cocaine and flakka.

According to the court documents, the defendant had a 98 percent positive feedback on his dark web vendor profile. Investigators claimed that the suspect received good reviews from his customers since he committed much to the customer support side of his business. The investigation showed that the darknet vendor was shipping the narcotics to his customer via USPS priority mail. Everything went well until a customer complained that he or she never received his package. When Leslie heard about that he logged onto the tracking service of the USPS to check the whereabouts of the parcel. However, DEA agents noticed his action, and traced down the computer he used, locating the suspect. According to the prosecution, investigators were able to prove that someone had used a computer in his Miramar home to check the location of a package containing narcotics. Law enforcement authorities were on the trail of the defendant for months. Police records show that some of the customers of the darknet vendor were undercover DEA agents, who purchased drugs from the defendant. Agents later placed a new order and secretly followed Leslie to a Hollywood post office where he shipped their order and four other packages that contained narcotics for other customers, according to the court documents. From there on, investigators had enough evidence to issue a warrant on his home address, where they arrested Leslie. In the defendant’s house, law enforcement authorities found a transaction log that Leslie kept at his home. And though the log showed Leslie was involved in about 1,000 transactions, the defense said most of those deals were for very small amounts of drugs – a total of about three pounds of illegal substances and 1,100 pills sold over several years.

“It’s an incredibly difficult thing to police because anybody with access to a computer and a mailbox can become a drug dealer,” Prosecutor Frank Maderal said in a statement recommending a five year and three months sentence for the defendant. He said customers who might be afraid to buy drugs on a real street corner may feel less intimidated about buying online.

Law enforcement authorities were able to determine how much drugs Leslie sold to his customers from the transaction list. Sentencing guidelines, based on the offenses and the amount of narcotics involved, recommended a sentence between seven years and three months and 8.5 years in federal prison for the suspect. However, Leslie’s attorney Robert Trachman argued that it would be “overly harsh” to lock up Leslie for that long. He suggested four years in prison for his client.

Numerous friends and family members of the defendant were present in the court trial to support Leslie. Many of them, including his mother and his wife, told Judge Hurley that Leslie was a “hard-working and very intelligent young man who made a bad mistake”. The defendant told the judge that he felt “very ashamed” that he had “used his intelligence and directed his energies into criminal activities.”

Leslie, a Jamaican citizen who lived in South Florida most of his life, said during the court trial that he lost his work permit and green card after he was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana, which he tried to smuggle to Jamaica to care for his grandfather. He said he decided to sell narcotics online since he thought it was “either [do] that or starve.”

“I’m confident that the next chapter in my life will be a better one,” Leslie told the judge, asking for mercy.

Both Judge Hurley and the prosecutor said that they were struck by Leslie’s comments and his family’s support but had to “temper that with the seriousness of the offense”. The judge said that since the ongoing “extraordinary increase” in heroin and fentanyl addiction in the country, which Leslie supported by selling such substances, and the accompanying problems of overdoses, he has to give a harsher sentence to the defendant.

Judge Hurley sentenced Leslie to five years and 10 months in federal prison and warned him there is a high likelihood that immigration authorities will deport him after he had served his punishment.


Dark Web Leads to Ketamine Abuse, Law Enforcement in Alert

The dark web has reintroduced ketamine to large markets around the world, including the UK and Taiwan. According to Drugs 2.0 author Mike Power, by early 2014, the supply and operations of ketamine dealers throughout the UK were wiped out. However, the dark web revived the global ketamine market and dealers have begun to supply the drug to larger markets.

Over the past decade, law enforcement agencies and regulators in various countries focused on the crackdown of ketamine abusers. Some countries have attempted to decrease the supply to ketamine so that only institutional healthcare service providers and hospitals would have stocks of ketamine readily available for emergency use cases.

Regulators have fought a decades-long war with ketamine suppliers and abusers solely due to the drug’s inconceivable effects to the human body. As Kit Kelly, the author of The Little Book of Ketamine explained:

“[Ketamine] unlocks powers so intense and improbable it is hard to believe such a substance could exist. At first glance, it might look like a simple pet anaesthetic, but when you actually try ketamine, it seems to violate all boundaries of what we think is possible. While the notion of cosmic journeys in a cat tranquilizer may seem silly, ketamine is much more complex than it appears.”

Researchers and experts within the healthcare industry became increasingly concerned over ketamine’s overpowering impact on the human body. For this reason, even authorized large-scale healthcare institutions rely on small dosages of ketamine to relieve patients of intense pain.

“Ketamine’s main medicinal use is as an anaesthetic for children, or car crash victims, or for people wounded on the battlefield, as well as in poorer countries, because unlike general anaesthesia, no expert backup team is required since the drug does not disable your respiratory system. It is used by vets to tranquilise pets ahead of surgery, since the drug blocks pain channels and wears off quickly,” Power further emphasized.

However, in the early 90s, the demand for ketamine surged significantly in countries including the UK and China. Naturally, the supply of ketamine increased proportionally and the drug became easily accessible in most major markets. By late 2000s, supply of ketamine started to decrease as governments in the UK and China seized large amounts of ketamine from dealers.

Martin Raithelhuber, United Nations Office on Drugs and Organised Crime synthetic drugs specialist stated:

“Seizures reach record heights, with most of them done in China. Evidence of illicit ketamine labs outside China, where they bust over 100 annually, is scarce, but in 2016, the first ketamine lab was dismantled in Malaysia.”

For a while, the demand for ketamine maintained a low level in the majority of markets due to strict regulations and harsh consequences. But, over the past few years, the supply of ketamine substantially increased due to the presence of the dark web and dark net marketplaces.

In fact, on April 30, DeepDotWeb reported that Taiwanese authorities seized 511 kilograms of ketamine obtained from the dark web. At the time, local publications reported that the amount of ketamine seized during the operation would have been enough to supply one million people. Upon the closure of the investigation, the Taipei City Police emphasized the large impact the dark web has on the distribution of ketamine in global markets.

The dark web and anonymous Tor network-based marketplaces have triggered a new wave of ketamine operations and dealerships throughout the world. Law enforcement agencies and authorities are in alert and as seen in the case of the Taiwanese ketamine dealers, international law enforcement agencies aim to focus on the crackdown of dark web operations and darknet marketplaces supplying and distributing ketamine in large markets.


Berlin Couple Standing Trial For Dark Net Drug Trafficking

A wife and a husband from Berlin, Germany were standing trial on May 3 for selling narcotics on the dark web.

The 30-year-old Daniel B. and his 35-year-old wife Juliana B. are accused of selling various illicit substances, including cocaine and amphetamine as well as prescription drugs illegally on darknet marketplaces since 2014. According to the court documents, the accused persons used the national postal service to send the narcotics in parcels to their customers. Since investigators did not find any fingerprints on the parcels, law enforcement authorities suspect that the defendants used gloves to avoid placing fingerprints on the packaging, which could result in providing incriminating evidence to the police. Investigators stated that the couple used their apartment in the district of Hohenschönhausen as their base of operations. According to the police, the couple made over 320,000 euros with their dark net scheme and recorded 1,205 individual sales on dark net marketplaces.

Law enforcement authorities did not provide any information on the arrests of the suspects, and how investigators had gathered information on the transactions and sales of the couple. It could be possible, as we had seen in many cases (in Germany too) that the defendants kept a list or some kind of bookkeeping in their home when the police searched the apartment, where they detailed the transactions they had conducted on the dark web. Another way for investigators to find out the sales of a darknet vendor is when law enforcement authorities are able to log into the account of the seller on a darknet marketplace, where officers can see all the details of the illicit operation. This way, investigators can determine what products did the vendor sell, how many orders he or she had, the quantity of drugs offered, and the number of transactions on the seller’s profile.

“The whole criminal energy came from me,” the 30-year-old husband said. Daniel B., who works as a toolmaker, also told the court about his addiction to narcotics. However, the prosecution claimed that with his statement, the husband only tried to clean his wife of guilt. According to the husband, the woman had only gone to the post office with the packages containing the narcotics to send them to their customers. The prosecutor, however, assumed that Juliana B. was an accomplice.

According to police information, the woman had set up an account under her (or her birth name) to conduct price negotiations, order packaging material and stamps, and to accept goods from suppliers. During the court trial, both defendants announced statements for the next trial day. In the case of confessions, the husband could be sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison, while the wife could face a maximum of four years and four months imprisonment for her crimes. The prosecution charged both suspects with drug trafficking on the internet.


Canadian College Required to Pay 30 Bitcoins by Ransomware, Investigation Opens

Cambrian college, a Canadian university based in Sudbury, Ontario, recently fell victim to a severe ransomware attack which disabled the majority of the functions and services designed for students and professors of the university.

According to the representatives of Cambrian college, the ransomware specifically targeted servers and databases of platforms used by students and professors throughout the school year. Although it is still undisclosed whether this attack was purposely carried out on the students and college faculty members, one of the faculty members told a local publication that the hacker behind the ransomware attack most likely had a full understanding of the school’s infrastructure and internal IT system.

“This was a very carefully planned attack. The virus knew exactly which program codes to hit and cause the most damage to the school’s reputation, student marks and records, student on-line work and presentations, all online courses, email servers, basically anything academic related. It did not strike Human Resources, Finance or Administration, far easier targets in general, and could tie the school up financially. This sounds more like revenge than a money grab,” the faculty member said.

For the most part, the claims of the faculty member is accurate. If ransomware encrypts the servers and databases wherein sensitive and confidential material of the college is stored, such as financial data and administrative information, it can have a much larger impact on the institution and could gain a better leverage to demand payments with.

However, by targeting the platforms used by students and professors, the hacker prioritized on the enforcement inconvenience to the school community. Due to the ransomware attack and the university’s decision to not settle the 30-bitcoin ransom payment, which is equivalent to around $45,000 at the time of reporting, most of the servers which students and professors rely on were encrypted and important information such assignment deadlines, grades and comments of professors were locked.

As a result, new deadlines were set and professors were asked by the university to re-grade the students accordingly.

Rick Daoust, chief information officer, Cambrian College, stated:

“Ransomware is a virus that installs itself on your system and it attacks any files that it can access and encrypts them so you can no longer open them. It asks for a payment in order to get a key so that you can access your files again. As of right now we have no knowledge of the origin of this hack but we know that it was a deliberate action that bypassed our security system.”

Daoust admittedly told BayToday, a Canadian publication, that one of the students attending Cambrian college was previously targeted by a ransomware attack in the past. However, the university did not closely investigate the case and dismissed it because it thought it couldn’t affect a larger ecosystem of servers and databases.

He further emphasized that the concept of ransomware and bitcoin payments are outside of the university and his area of expertise. Daoust confirmed with BayToday that the university and an investigative team will closely look into the case to ensure that such event does not occur in the future.

“It’s a bit outside of my area of expertise but these payments would be done through the dark web (a part of the web that is only accessible through special software, where users are anonymous and untraceable), so it’s not as simple as just tracking a payment address. We’re going to have to review our security once this is all sorted out and open an investigation to find out the source of this virus. We’ve never had to deal with something like this so I just want to thank students and staff for being patient while we work to get things back to normal.”

As DeepDotWeb reported in October of 2016, a new research initiative revealed the education industry is targeted the most by ransomware attacks. According to security ratings provider BitSight, 13 percent of education providers and institutions are hit with ransomware attacks on a regular basis. In order to build resilience toward these attacks, universities must ensure that databases, servers and files are backed up and secured.