Ah, the legend continues! I’ve done several posts about the so-called “red rooms” that may or may not exist on the dark web, and it’s been an interesting process. (I’m leaning toward not, by the way.) For the newcomers, here are the previous entries:
A Chat with the Directors of The Darkest Alley! (interview)
In the process, I’ve become more and more convinced that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to host something like a red room on the dark web (Tor in particular). Not only is livestreaming very difficult due to latency problems, but you would also have the problem of something like a live murder leaving behind evidence for law enforcement.
Nonetheless, in my research process, I’ve continued looking for sites that are labeled as red rooms, or sell themselves on the premise of being a red room. I have come across several of those while hunting, and most seem to be scams.
Red Room #12589903
Most recently, I found yet another site with a similar premise, located at http://5xcds7yhgisfm6mu.onion/. As you can see from the screenshot, it’s rather basic looking and gives very few details. You had to contact them to get any other information.
Once again, out of curiosity, I contacted the site owner (or whomever) via the email address that was listed, and sent a PGP-encrypted message asking how to sign up. He sent me back a PGP-encrypted message with details on what I had to do, and how much I had to pay, etc.
Now, here is the creepy part: the person who responded actually knew my real name. That was enough to freak me out, at least a little bit. I didn’t ask, but I was also concerned if he had any of my other personal information.
(Later, when he found out I was blogging about him, he spewed out a list of other personal info, like my wife’s name, the city I lived in, and several places that I frequent. But you could honestly find those just by Googling me.)
It reminded me, at least slightly, of some of the “deep web” stories like the previously mentioned Horrifying Deep Web Stories: Why I Quit Hacking or 3 Disturbing Deep Web Stories by Mr. Nightmare. And yes, I know that those are just stories, but it was the possibility of someone finding out my real identity that was reminiscent of some of the stories.
His response to my first question, like most of the others, was that I had to pay 2.0 bitcoin (a.k.a. $1344.80) to gain access, and then to actually be the “master” of the show, I had to win an auction (similar to most of the other supposed red room sites).
Once you paid, supposedly, you would be given a username and password to simply access the site. (You could only access the landing page without it.)
Invasion of Privacy??
So my question was – where did the guy get my name from? Well, without asking directly, I had several theories.
When I had used my PGP key on the message I sent initially, it’s possible that my name was encoded into it somehow. I actually find that less disturbing than some of the alternatives.
Beyond that, I combed through my system with various anti-malware tools, and came up with a few troubling findings. One of them was a type of trojan (whose name I forget at the moment) that is specifically designed to steal login credentials and personal information.
I was able to remove it, but the question still remained – was that what gave away my name? I still don’t know for certain, and I would feel more comfortable if I did.
Moral of the Story…
So what have I learned from this? I need to be more careful about whom I correspond with on the dark web, and when I do so, it’s imperative that I have all privacy and security protocols in place, and don’t do anything idiotic. (Insert “I told you so” here.)
In the meantime, I’m still finding the process enjoyable, and believe it or not, I have learned a few things from my mistakes.
I hope you can, too.