Hyperion: Coordinated International Police Operation Targets Dark Net

Law enforcement agencies around the world have undertaken a coordinated operation, codenamed Operation Hyperion, targeting vendors and users of dark net marketplaces, resulting in the identification of thousands of individuals. New Zealand police and the FBI have suggested they have spoken with 150 individuals each; Canadian police have arrested an individual suspected of distributing narcotics internationally; and Swedish police have identified around 3,000 suspected buyers within their borders. U.S. agencies such as the Postal Inspection Service, CBP, IRS, ICE and ATF all coordinated with international partners from the U.K., Australia, Ireland, France, Spain and Finland in the operation.
The Cipher Take: The Dark Net is a portion of the internet only accessible through encrypted browsers that ensure a user's anonymity through a series relay points around the globe. While such a place does serve a legitimate purpose for journalists, activists, and the security conscious, it also facilitates crime by hosting hidden service marketplaces. These illicit bazaars can peddle narcotics, child pornography, counterfeit documents and cash, weapons, secrets, and hacking toolkits. The FBI has previously deanonymized visitors to a child pornography vendor by installing malware through their browsers, leading to arrests. A major part of Operation Hyperion seems to be revealing the identities of vendors and buyers—a strategy of deterrence through intimidation intended to dissuade others from participating in the trade.


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