The dark web’s pre-eminent forum for darknet market-related discussion is approaching the end of its second week offline, with no communication from the forum’s architect and co-administrator, HugBunter, in over 10 days. On Nov. 30th, the admin posted an announcement to Dread’s emergency subreddit in which he clarified the forum would be entirely offline as measures were taken to combat its “largest scale DoS attack yet.”
Dread has faced the wrath of a determined DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacker for almost six months now, who HugBunter believes is the same attacker that took Dream market offline in 2019 and attacked Dread several times previously. According to HugBunter, the attacker is trying to extort Dread, demanding an undisclosed amount of cryptocurrency to stop the attacks — a demand to which he fears some similarly-attacked darknet markets have already given in.
Welcome message displayed on the main Dread onion for the last 10 days.
“Unfortunately we are now completely down on all access points, which also affects Recon and the DNM Bible,” wrote HugBunter in a PGP-signed message in the forum’s emergency subreddit. “I’d like to apologize for the inconvenience, however we have had to take urgent action in moving to the new server cluster we have been working on,” he added.
“Paris is completing the restructure, which will increase our ability to expand resources towards countering DoS attacks and there are too many legacy systems we had in place that would be far too difficult to change around if we were online right now. We had intended for this to be a smooth migration but sped up the process…
Please bare (sic) with us and we’ll be back to full service in no time and DoS attacks will become a thing of the past, not just for us, but for any affected service.” – HugBunter, Dread creator and admin
Both HugBunter and Paris, the forum’s other co-admin, had previously suggested that the attacker is likely responsible for the overall slowing of the Tor network — a problem they believe can best be mitigated by Tor employing a proof-of-work requirement to limit bots and non-authentic use of the network. Per the mailing list for Tor developers, work on such a solution has been underway for the last five months and was in the design phase as of October.
Onion link providers tortaxi and dark.fail both updated their homepages to acknowledge that the forum was offline due to DDOS attack, directing visitors to Reddit for updates. The outage extends to Dread’s presence on I2P, as well.