Co-admin of the Dread forum, /u/Paris, has revealed that the dark web’s most popular forum has suffered a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, and noted the site’s fluctuating stability in Dread uptime (See below).
Figure 1: Screenshot of the forum post by Dread forum co-admin revealing the DDoS attack
The co-admin urged forum users to stay vigilant and look out for possible phishing attempts aimed at harvesting user data and insisted that Dread has only one address. The Dread post also expressed the forum’s desire to test out the i2P network (Tor’s alternative).
Although the issue was finally resolved, /u/Paris admitted that the forum administrators can only wait to see whether the DDoS attacker will leave Dread alone after all. It is not difficult to understand the genesis of the co-admin’s fears considering that this is not the first time that the Dread forum has been targeted in potentially-devastating DDoS attacks.
Dark web marketplaces and forums are the online version of a chaotic neighbourhood where each member strives to destroy the next. The presence of vendors, buyers and actors who live off providing a platform connecting the two categories of users has created room high-stake competition.
The self-policing attributes of dark web spaces have also created an environment where people are always keen to exploit technical flaws with the aim of holding entire markets and forums in ransom.
Consequently, DDoS attacks have gained significant popularity in recent years with threat actors being drawn to the idea of striking it rich by disrupting markets and forums for financial gain.
Why DDoS Attacks Will Not Stop Anytime Soon
As early as 2019, dark web marketplace and forum administrators blamed Tor vulnerabilities for the incessant occurrence of DDoS attacks in the hidden web. For instance, a large section of darknet commentators attributed the 2019 death of Dream Market (the darknet behemoth of its time) to a sustained DDoS attack linked to a weakness in the Tor network.
Indeed, DDoS attacks can be used by forums and markets to attack and disrupt their competition or law enforcement agencies. The extent of these attacks have placed the admins of dark web sites on high alert.
It turns out that all the cyber defences that are keep getting invested by market and forum operators is not doing much to keep the DDoS attacks at bay. The problem is compounded by the fact that most threat actors tend to be more determined than the figures behind vulnerable markets and forums.
Worse, the concept of relatively cheap DDoS rental services may mean that DDoS attackers will not be easily exit the dark web scene. Cybersecurity have published numerous threat actor assessment reports indicating the existence of DDoS rental services costing as little as $10 per hour, or $200 per day.
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