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Dark web black market shuts down due to security concerns

One of the largest black markets on the dark web has been forced to shut down over security concerns.

Administrators for Agora explained that a recently discovered network flaw was behind the closure and that the site would remain offline until a long-term solution could be implemented.

Read more: High-speed anonymous network devised as Tor alternative

Individuals behind the running of the site are particularly concerned that the location of its servers could be found. Security expert Graham Cluley told the BBC that incidents such as this reveal that using the dark web is not a guarantee of anonymity. A recently published report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) analysing the security of the Tor network may have been the cause of Agora’s security worries.

"Once again, something that many people were putting their trust into on the internet is being revealed to be not quite so trustworthy after all," Cluley said.

Agora, like other high profile online black markets, is used to sell illegal items such as drugs anonymously. The site does have some regulations on what can be purchased, however, and forbids the selling of guns, poison and child pornography.

The Agora administrators shared a statement online where they admitted some concerns over the MIT research and explained that the only option was to close the site.

Read more: Dark web marketplaces process more bitcoin than BitPay

"At this point, while we don't have a solution ready it would be unsafe to keep our users using the service, since they would be in jeopardy,” the admins explained. “Thus, and to our great sadness we have to take the market offline for a while, until we can develop a better solution. This is the best course of action for everyone involved."

Barclay Ballard
Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.