Short Bytes: Last year, the FBI engaged in the largest ever law enforcement hacking campaign to shut down “the largest remaining known child pornography hidden service in the world.” The FBI made use of a hacking tool called network investigative technique (NIT) to sniff the IP addresses of the pedophile users and busted them.
Back in July 2015, two people from NY were criminally charged in connection with a child pornography website seized by the FBI. According to the authorities, the website had nearly 215,000 users. The website operated on a Tor hidden service that promised to protect the location of server and identity of the users. However, the FBI made use of a hacking tool to sniff the IP addresses of the users and busted them.
After a year, the extent of hacking and the unprecedented measures took by the FBI are now being revealed. Detailing the hacking process of FBI,Motherboard writes that after capturing the Playpen server in February 2015, the FBI ran the website from its own servers by using a hacking tool called network investigative technique (NIT) and successfully identified about 1,300 IP addresses of pedophiles.
Playpen became famous on the dark web just after its launch in August 2014. There, users could sign up and share whatever images they wanted. According to the documents presented in the court, the site’s main purpose was “the advertisement and distribution of child pornography.”
An FBI complaint described the site as “the largest remaining known child pornography hidden service in the world.”
The hacking tool NIT has been described as an “extraordinary expansion of government surveillance and its use of illegal search methods on a massive scale” in the court filing. It’s being used by the FBI from time to time to expose the identities of Tor users and phishing emails.
However, there are still tons of questions left unanswered, such as the true power of hacking tools like NIT is kept hidden from the courts while the law enforcement authorities seek the permission to use them. While, the true extent of this pedophile hacking campaign is still not known, it remains the biggest ever hacking campaign by a law enforcement authority.