A Ukrainian living in the U.S. has reportedly hacked a major drug market on the Russian dark web, diverting some of its crypto proceeds. The man says he donated the digital cash stolen from the illicit website to an organization delivering humanitarian aid across his war-torn homeland.
Wisconsin Resident With Ukrainian Roots Hacks Russian Dark Web Market Solaris
Ukrainian-born cyber intelligence expert Alex Holden, who left Kyiv as a teenager in the 1980s and now lives in Mequon, Wisconsin, claims he has hacked into Solaris, one of Russia’s largest online drug markets, Forbes informs in a report.
Supported by his team at Hold Security, he was able to get hold of some of the bitcoin sent to dealers and the darknet site’s owners. The cryptocurrency, worth over $25,000, was later transferred to Enjoying Life, a charitable foundation based in the Ukrainian capital.
Without revealing exactly how he did it, Holden explained he took control of much of the internet infrastructure behind Solaris, including some administrator accounts, obtained the website’s source code and a database of its users and drop off locations for drug deliveries.
For a while, the Ukrainian and his colleagues also gained access to the “master wallet” of the marketplace. It was used by buyers and dealers to deposit and withdraw funds and operated as the platform’s crypto exchange, the article details.
Given the rapid turnover, the wallet rarely had more than 3 BTC at a time. Holden managed to appropriate 1.6 BTC and send it to Enjoying Life. Hold Security donated another $8,000 to the charity, which provides assistance to people affected by the war in Ukraine.
Solaris Linked to ‘Patriotic’ Russian Hacking Collective Killnet
The darknet market Solaris is suspected of having connections to the hacking crew Killnet, which after Moscow launched its invasion in late February became one of Russia’s “patriotic” hacker groups vowing to target Ukrainians and their supporters.
Killnet has also conducted a number of attacks in the U.S., including on airport and state government websites as well as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. It reportedly hit the Eurovision song contest, the Estonian government and Italy’s National Health Institute.
The group was also blamed for attacking Rutor, the main rival of Solaris, which became Russia’s leading underground drugs market after Hydra was shut down this past spring. According to U.S. cybersecurity firm Zerofox, Solaris was paying Killnet for DDoS services.
Besides the battlefield, Russia and Ukraine have also clashed in the online space, with the government in Kyiv recruiting experts for its own cyberforce. The special unit was tasked to identify and prevent Russian attacks but also hack back.
Hits such as those on Russia’s largest bank, Sber, and the Moscow Stock Exchange have been attributed to the Ukrainian IT army. Social media accounts associated with the hacktivist collective Anonymous took responsibility for many other attacks.
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Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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