On Saturday, the notorious dark web had over 10,000 of its secret and shady websites seized by an Anonymous-linked hacker. The person claiming responsibility for this hack said it was a vigilante move that was accomplished by targeting a dark web hosting service called Freedom Hosting II.
“Initially, I didn’t want to take down FH2, just look through it,” the hacker told Motherboard in an email sent from the same address posted to the hacked Freedom Hosting II sites. The hack was initiated after the hacker discovered that the service was hosting child pornography websites. “That’s when I decided to take it down instead,” they claimed. Each site hosted by the service had its content replaced by a message from the hacker.
The hack, supposedly, wasn’t very complicated, and according the person responsible, this was their first attempt at hacking. “This is, in fact, my first hack ever,” the hacker said. “I just had the right idea.” All they needed was control over a new or already existing site. From there, it was just a matter of changing a configuration file, triggering a reset password, and getting root access. The hacker said that they were able to infiltrate the system with just read-only access as early as January 30.
The ominous-sounding moniker “dark web” is fairly fitting given the nature of many of the websites that comprise it. This space on the internet is home to some of the most nefarious websites there are, like the infamous Silk Road and other sites similar to it, some of which are marketplaces for child pornography, black market guns, illegal drugs, and even assassins-for-hire. Inaccessible using traditional browsers, those who want to explore the dark web must use special software to access it.
This hack takes out a full 20 percent of those sites, and by the looks of things, the hacker seems to be responsibly handling the files they seized. They released a dump of system files but without including user data, and they also plan to give copies to a security researcher. That person will be the one to deliver them to government officials.
The hacker considers this an achievement in the crusade against the internet’s scum. Asked if they would do it again in the future, the hacker replied, “If there is ever going to be a chance like that again, I won’t say no to taking them down, but I do not plan to do so.”