Online black market ‘Darkleaks’ lets you trade secrets for bitcoin
Thu 19 Feb 2015
An anonymous online black market site, Darkleaks, has been discovered which facilitates whistleblowing and helps blackmailers make money from selling confidential and valuable data in exchange for Bitcoin.
The decentralised black marketplace is built on blockchain technology and is available to download as a free software package, with its source code published openly on code-sharing site Github.
According to a blog post introducing the site, “there is no identity, no central operator and no interaction between leaker and buyers.” This anonymity is assured through blockchain which encrypts the files released when the payment is taken by the ‘leaker’, says developer Zozan Cudi.
“Files are split into segments and encrypted. These segments are unlocked only when the leaker reveals the key by claiming his Bitcoins,” Cudi explains.
Small pieces of the files are made available to the potential buyer for preview before the data is fully released. Those interested in purchasing the information can therefore verify a file’s contents before committing to the transaction.
There are many existing portals used for the leaking of confidential and sensitive information, including the infamous WikiLeaks, however there has never been an opportunity to exchange leaks for profit. Experts in the field are unconvinced of the necessity to introduce a financial angle to whistleblowing. “When you’re selling information you’re not really a whistleblower under the legislative legal definition in almost any country,” said Beatrice Edwards, executive director of the US Government Accountability Project.
However she suggests that current pressures may force potential whistleblowers underground to dark markets such as DarkLeaks. “We have seen in the US an increasingly punitive attitude on the part of the government towards whistleblowers,” Edwards explained. “This could force them into some underground exchange of information like this because the Obama administration prosecutes national security whistleblowers rather than protecting them.”
The developers say that Darkleaks will help “stop corruption and challenge power”, but there seems to be no limit to the files sellers and buyers can trade in, freely and anonymously – “government secrets”, “celebrity sex pictures” and “military intelligence”, among other critical and highly sensitive information.