The clandestine data hosted within the Dark Web has been compromised.
A group affiliated with hacker collective Anonymous has managed to bring down one fifth of Tor-based websites in a vigilante move. The group infiltrated the servers of Freedom Hosting II and took down almost 10,000 websites as they were sharing child porn.
What Is The Dark Web?
For the unfamiliar, Dark Web is a part of World Wide Web that exists on overlay networks and darknets. Dark Webs uses public Internet but access to it can only be gained through some specific software, authorization codes or a particular configuration.
The Dark Web or Deep Web as some call it, in not listed by search engines and keeps the identity and activity of the user anonymous.
What Is Free Hosting II?
Freedom Hosting II is the single largest host of sites on the Dark Web. The hacker group has managed to breach down the servers of the host and currently, has access to gigabytes of data that they managed to download from the service.
— Sarah Jamie Lewis (@SarahJamieLewis) February 3, 2017
Dark Web researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis states that, Freedom Hosting II hosts almost 15 percent to 20 percent of all underground sites on the Dark Web.
"Since OnionScan started in April we have observed FHII hosting between 1500 and 2000 services or about 15-20% of the total number of active sites in our scanning lists," stated Lewis in her OnionScan 2016 report.
All these underground websites hosted by Freedom Hosting II are .onion and can be accessed through browser Tor.
People visiting the hacked websites were greeted with the message: "Hello, Freedom Hosting II, you have been hacked."
A petty ransom of 0.1 bitcoin, which is about $100 in today's exchange rate, has been demanded by the hackers who managed to compromise and download 75 GB of files and 2.6 GB of database from the host servers.
Why Hack Freedom Hosting II?
The Anonymous affiliated hackers shared that it decided to attack Freedom Hosting II servers as it learnt that the host was managing child pornography sites and they have zero tolerance for the same. About half of the data downloaded contains child pornography.
The hackers claim they found 10 child pornography sites with almost 30 GB of files and asserts that Freedom Hosting II was aware of these sites and had their content.
"This suggests they paid for hosting and the admin knew of those sites. That's when I decided to take it down instead," said the hacker group to Motherboard.
Although it is tough to believe the claims of the hacker group, it does fall in line with past history of the previous Dark Web hosting companies. The original version of Freedom Hosting was prosecuted for child pornography in 2013 by law enforcement officials.
The Next Step
The hackers which took down Freedom Hosting confessed to Motherboard that it was their first hack. The leaked data may now attract law enforcement officials in intervening and it would not be too surprising to hear of arrests since this data could be used in many ways.
Photo: Alf Melin | Flickr