He escaped from the dark web's largest statue. Now it's back

It appears that DeSnake has given up on AlphaBay and now intends to revive it. Thai police have arrested 26-year-old administrator of the site, Alexander Kazis, in Bangkok, and the FBI has confiscated the AlphaBay central server in Lithuania, destroying a market that sells hundreds of millions of dollars in drugs annually and destroying piracy. Information. And other contraband to 400,000 plus registered users. The FBI described the disruption as a "significant operation".

But the fate of one of the key players in this massive black market scheme has yet to be clarified: AlphaBay No. 2, a self-made security expert and founder, known as DeSnake. Now, four years after its market demise, it appears DeSnake is online again and has relaunched AlphaBay under his singular leadership. After four years off the radar, he hasn't kept quiet about his comeback. It has survived the darkest web's largest statue. It's back now in one at a long conversation in Interview, DeSnake tells WIRED how he got rid of AlphaBay without any harm, why is it reappearing now, and what are his plans for the once-dominant online revival? Black market. After establishing his identity, he signed a public message using the PGP DeSnake key, which has been confirmed by several security researchers, to communicate with WIRED via encrypted text messages, via encrypted text messages. “The biggest reason I want to return to the AlphaBay name is more than just a market that collapsed and its founder committed suicide,” DeSnake wrote. Kazis was killed in his cell in a Thai prison a week after his arrest. Like many members of the dark web community, DeSnake believes Cazes was murdered in prison. He says he was driven to rebuild AlphaBay after reading an FBI report about what he thought was a disrespectful arrest of Cazes. "The AlphaBay name has been distorted after the attacks. I'm here to make up for it." Rebuild technical protection AlphaBay. (DeSnake says it uses masculine pronouns.) For example, the updated version of AlphaBay allows users to trade only with a Monero password, which is more difficult to track than Bitcoin, which is sometimes blocked. The website is now accessed not only through Tor, like the original AlphaBay, but also through I2P, a lesser known anonymous system that DeSnake encourages users to access. He repeatedly expressed concern that Tor might be subject to surveillance, although he did not provide any evidence.

DeSnake says his security practices - both on an AlphaBay and on a personal level - go well beyond what follows. Its predecessor, Cazes, was developed by Alpha02 Online Management. Cazes got involved in a Bitcoin blockchain analysis that confirmed his role as president of AlphaBay, a trick that is much more difficult, if not impossible, with Monero. DeSnake argues that new security measures like this make it very difficult to remove AlphaBay this time around. De Snick wrote: "[Cazes] made many anonymous 'holy saints', but he decided to use only a few, while calling the other methods/methods 'a lot'." There is no extra game time. "

DeSnake owes its continued freedom to an end-to-end operational security system. He says work computers have a "memory-losing" operating system, such as the security-oriented Linux Tails distribution, which is designed not to store any data in In fact, he claims to store any accusatory information on hard disks or USB drives in encrypted or unsaved form.DeSnake also claims to have designed a USB-based "automatic kill switch" to wipe his computers memory and, if not specified, control it a few seconds. For even the bathroom to relax, turn it off completely. DeSnake writes: "The biggest problem here is human needs...I say that's the biggest inconvenience." "You're making sacrifices. No matter how you get used to it, it becomes second nature.” The laptops of Alexandre Cazes and Ross Ulbricht — who is serving a life sentence for running the main market for dark web drugs known as the Silk Road — were running while they were opened, and the accounts of administrators on websites On the other hand, DeSnake vehemently claims that his computer cannot interfere with it, even if it is logged in. But all that technical and operational protection may be less important than simple geo-protection. DeSnake claims to be in Undeliverable country, out of reach of US law enforcement.The new head of AlphaBay describes life in the former Soviet Union in WIRED messages, and has been writing Russian-language messages to users on major AlphaBay forums.AlphaBay has always been rumored to have some connection to Russia. Or the Russians, its laws have always prohibited the sale of data stolen from victims in the former Soviet Union, a common prohibition among Russian hackers who wanted to protect them from Russian police surveillance. Sih. And when Alexander Kazis wrote on the site under the name Alpha02, he sometimes signed the Russian phrase "be safe". But when Cazes were later found in Thailand, many believed that AlphaBay's Russian imprint was designed to mislead researchers. "You don't cheat where you sleep," he wrote of AlphaBay's law against selling stolen data from citizens of the former Soviet Union. "We did this for the safety of the other employees. [Cazes] decided to use this as a way to secure themselves." “Zero has a problem,” leading him to believe that his years of freedom were not only above where he lived but also technically superior to the law enforcement that followed him. He said it may be misdirection that helps him escape from these organizations, with the 2017 removal either they did not respond or declined to comment.

While there are few claims that DeSnake is reliable, it has at least had an unusually long life for a dark market operator, says Flashpoint Security's guide and describes DeSnake, pseudonym - first as a credit card-focused cybercriminal On sites like the Evolution and Tor Carder Forum - before he became a market manager himself. "And let's also say - tools and guides, after Evolution executives fled with their users, were looking for a new home. Money at this time "scams out". He says he quickly befriended Alpha02 in an unconventional way: he claims to have created " shell" on AlphaBay, hacked into a website, and found a place to carry out his commands on his server. Instead of abusing the breach, he says, the administrator helped fix it and soon became the second administrator and site security administrator. "I took care of security and some administration," DeSnake says. "He took care of the rest."

About three years later, Cazes is arrested and the site is down, in part due to a series of clues that began with the disclosure of the AlphaBay founder's personal email address. its forums, a problem DeSnake says he previously solved by changing the site's forum software. "I still don't think he put his personal email there," says DeSnake. "He was a good athlete and knew better."

No Dark web sellers and buyers weren't there Tuning since they returned to AlphaBay. It's been a few weeks since its relaunch, with fewer than 500 listings, compared to more than 350,000 at the height of 2017 AlphaBay. That small number will likely be offset by DeSnake's insistence that Monero only be accepted, shady dark web users waiting for an AlphaBay review, and a torrent of distributed service attacks that have taken the site offline since its launch. But DeSnake argues that dark web marketplaces usually only attract new users when another popular marketplace is closed down or destroyed by law enforcement. Nothing has happened since the return of AlphaBay.


In the meantime, DeSnake wants to impress users with the promises of a hitherto unproven system called AlphaGuard, which is designed to allow users to withdraw their money even if the authorities take it back, to reap it. Servers running the AlphaBay infrastructure.

As DeSnake describes, if AlphaBay is detected offline, AlphaGuard will automatically lease and run new servers. It even claims that AlphaGuard automatically hacks other websites and puts the data on its servers to give users "withdrawal codes" they can use to store encryption stored on AlphaBay if Delete is to use it. DeSnake writes, “This is a system where users can withdraw funds and resolve disputes and generally do not lose a single cent in the event of an attack,” even if it happens on all servers simultaneously. on fire.

If this AlphaGuard feature doesn't sound exciting enough, DeSnake says it's also in the early stages of a long-term plan to implement a completely decentralized marketplace platform, BitTorrent for Napster's current dark web marketplace. In this very ambitious plan, open source programmers and server operators who independently manage hundreds or thousands of servers will receive a share of the profits of the hosting markets, which make up the vast dark web without any drawbacks. DeSnake says AlphaBay is one of the "brands" hosted on that network, but any seller or marketer can make their own setup, with encryption features that keep any marketplace or store in check. Even if it's a symbol. Copied into a group of machines. DeSnake has been discussing the decentralization project since his first involvement with the AlphaBay community, and admits it still has years to come. But he sees this as a way to make AlphaBay invulnerable to the subsequent deletion of the law and to return the millions of people who were lost during the takeover of the main AlphaBay server to dark web users. "When it comes to revenue, it's the future of AlphaBay," DeSnake wrote. "When it comes to ideology, I think that's pretty clear. The reason is to make the AlphaBay name sound good...that's our way of responding to what happened in the dark." But for example, a decentralization program requires the mass purchase of a large number of developers and network operators for what is essentially an illegal project. Gary points out that DeSnake has not released any code for this system or AlphaGuard, and asks why he's restarting AlphaBay four years after it was removed without any real progress in the decentralization dream. "It really showed nothing but a market launch," says Gary. "I have no confidence in DeSnake and I believe there is a general mistrust in the community." Gary is referring to a topic in the Russian Cybercrime Society XSS, where many commentators have expressed doubts about DeSnake's comeback, and some have indicated that it is under the control of law enforcement. “Lol, Desnik, how many honorable comrades should be present to get out of the punishment dungeon?” asked one of the commentators in Russian. Another writes: "This is fake and 99.9 is definitely safe and will unlock it again." “If I were a seller or user of this site, I would be very concerned about starting an exit scam or some sort of trap,” the former official said, noting that they were not aware of any cases. Site targeting.

Nicholas Christine, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who focuses on the dark web, confirmed DeSnake's PGP key to a copy in his message archive. But that key, he says, could be in the control of law enforcement agencies, or De Snack himself could become a law enforcement partner. However, with the removal of AlphaBay in 2017, the Dutch police took control of Hansa, the second largest dark web market at the time. "It's unlikely, but it's not impossible," Kristen says of DeSnake's endangerment theories.

DeSnake believes that if the police came to him and launched the new AlphaBay as a magnet, they would simply reuse the original AlphaBay code. Instead, he says, he rewrote it from scratch, and notes that Monero's limitations are less effective. Much to this site of sites that accept bitcoin, to corner suspicious web buyers.

<"With all this, you need to decide for yourself." Will you wave with us," he wrote in a message to users at the Dread Dark Market Forum. "I understand if you decide not to, but over time it will prove to you that we are the original AB team and weren't injured in any way."

If DeSnake and his revived AlphaBay are indeed legal, they could be the opposite of the honey pot: a highly motivated digital black market that seems out of reach of US law enforcement. This may mean that the long history of one of the oldest players of the dark web is not over yet.

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He escaped from the dark web's largest statue. Now it's back
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