Finnish Authorities Dismantle Notorious PIILOPUOTI Dark Web Drug Marketplace

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
Finnish law enforcement authorities have announced the takedown of PIILOPUOTI, a dark web marketplace that specialized in illegal narcotics trade since May 2022. ‘The site operated as a hidden service in the encrypted TOR network,’ the Finnish Customs (aka Tulli) said in a brief announcement on Tuesday. ‘The site has been used in anonymous criminal activities such as narcotics trade.’ The agency said that the drugs sold on the site were smuggled to Finland from abroad, adding a criminal investigation is underway in coordination with international partners from Germany and Lithuania, along with Europol and Eurojust. It's not immediately clear if any arrests were made. Romanian cybersecurity firm Bitdefender said it provided additional support that helped with the seizure of PIILOPUOTI. We are extremely pleased that PIILOPUOTI has been seized and would like to congratulate law enforcement, Finnish Customs, and everyone involved,’ Alexandru Catalin Cosoi, senior director of the Investigation and Forensics Unit at Bitdefender, said in a statement” (The Hacker News, 2023).

Security Officer Comments:
Over the years, threat actors have used the Tor browser to conduct illegal activities including the distribution and sale of malware, drugs, weapons, and much more, on the basis that their operations are masked by the anonymity that the dark web provides. However, as seen in the latest takedown, law enforcement has become more capable and efficient in dismantling these operations by pooling resources on an international level. Although a similar market like PILLOPUOTI could be spun up by threat actors, the increasing pressure and efforts made by law enforcement should serve as a warning to cybercriminals that their activities are longer protected by the dark web.