For years, AlphaBay ruled the dark web. If you were in the market to buy drugs or stolen credit cards, the digital bazaar was the place to turn. At its peak, more than 350,000 products were listed for sale—an estimated 10 times the size of the notorious Silk Road market—and the website proved to be the ire of law enforcement the world round. That was until cops took AlphaBay offline in 2017.
This week, WIRED published the first in a six-part series detailing the hunt for Alpha02, the mastermind believed to be behind AlphaBay, and the huge international takedown operation that wiped the marketplace from the web. Each week, we’ll publish a new part of the series, excerpted from WIRED reporter Andy Greenberg’s new book, Tracers in the Dark.
Schools across the US have faced dozens of hoax calls about mass shootings in recent months. After a call is made, police scramble to the scene fearing the worst, only to find out there is no shooter. Now hoax phone call recordings obtained by WIRED and conversations with law enforcement officials reveal how the calls have been made and show that law enforcement officials are closing in on the alleged hoaxer. Police are looking for a male “with a heavy accent described as Middle Eastern or African” and have linked the phone calls to Ethiopia.
Elsewhere, a bug in Apple’s new macOS 13 Ventura operating system is causing problems for malware scanners and security monitoring tools. With the new software update, Apple accidentally crippled third-party security products in a way users may not notice. The company is planning to fix the bug in an upcoming software release.
We also looked at a newly discovered Chinese influence operation that is targeting US elections—although it is not having much success. And now that Elon Musk owns Twitter, here’s how you should think about your privacy and security on the bird website.
But wait, there’s more! Each week, we highlight the news we didn’t cover in-depth ourselves. Click on the headlines below to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.
Officials in Canada and the Netherlands are investigating allegations that Chinese police forces have operated a network of illegal police stations within their countries. According to reports that emerged this week, Chinese police forces have been operating out of clandestine bases and using their presence to track and threaten dissidents. The Dutch government has called such sites “illegal” and said it is “investigating exactly what they are doing here,” while officials in Canada said they are investigating “so-called ‘police’ stations.”
However, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Spanish civil rights group Safeguard Defenders first claimed that Chinese police forces from the cities of Fuzhou and Qingtian were running “overseas police service stations” across the West in a report published in September. Since 2018, the group claims, more than 38 police service stations have appeared in “dozens of countries” spread across five different continents. “Such overseas police ‘service stations’ have been used by police back in China to carry out such ‘persuasion to return’ operations on foreign soil, including in Europe,” the report states. Lawmakers in both England and Scotland are also planning on investigating the stations, reports say.