Darkode cybercrime forum might be making a comeback

The forum's last administrator has plans to restore the site, with better protections against law enforcement investigations

Message posted on the Darkode.cc website about resurrecting the forum

Message posted on the Darkode.cc website about resurrecting the forum

The former administrator of Darkode, the online cybercrime forum that was recently shut down by law enforcement agencies, is preparing to bring it back, with better security and privacy for its members.

On July 15, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Darkode hacking forum where cybercriminals had gathered to exchange services and tools for years, was dismantled following an operation that involved agencies in 20 countries.

Seventy suspected Darkode members from many countries were searched, arrested or charged after the FBI infiltrated the forum's invitation-only membership and gathered evidence.

However, the forum's most recent administrator, a hacker known online a Sp3cial1st, or Sp3c, was absent from the list of names and aliases released by the DOJ, prompting speculation that he's still at large.

That belief was strengthened in recent days by a message about the forum's future that appears to come from the hacker. According to a U.K. cybercrime researcher who uses the online identity MalwareTech, Sp3cial1st announced his plan to restore the forum.

The announcement was made through the Jabber instant messaging account that Sp3cial1st has used for many years, so it's unlikely to be fake, MalwareTech said via email.

Earlier today, the website darkode.cc contained a message, supposedly from Sp3cial1st, that outlined the plan in more detail.

"Most of the staff is intact, along with senior members," the message read. "It appears the raids focused on newly added individuals or people that have been retired from the scene for years. The forum will be back in onion land, it will be invite only, and members we can confirm are still active will be given an invite (no-one else)."

The onion land is a reference to the Tor anonymity network, suggesting that the website will operate inside the Tor network as a hidden service. Moreover, the plan is for members to have separate .onion URLs for accessing Darkode and to authenticate with their Bitcoin wallet IDs via the Blockchain API.

No other user information will be stored except for the online aliases of members who wish to create them, Sp3cial1st said. Otherwise, Bitcoin wallet IDs will be used as default nicknames.

The new security measures are no surprise given that Darkode had a "massive problem with people using hacked accounts to leak information to law enforcement and journalists as well as scam users," MalwareTech said in a blog post. "Ironically even the Darkode administrators were compromised at one point after one of them had reused his password on another forum, which had its database leaked a few weeks prior."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags online safetysecuritylegalDarkodemalwarecybercrimefraud

More about Department of JusticeDOJFBI

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts