More than a week after Dread went down for maintenance, HugBunter’s deadman switch was triggered, indicating that the owner of the largest dark web forum no longer had control over the forum or his own equipment. Dread, the dark web‘s version of Reddit, has been offline for nine days at the time of publication, leaving many users concerned about the forum’s admin. The admin, HugBunter, has unexpectedly vanished in the past for health reasons or equipment malfunctions. In those cases, though, he made an effort to check in with a Dread staff member about his sudden disappearances.
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This time, though, a Dread staffer confirmed that they had not received a message from HugBunter in three days. Although we do not know what specifically triggered deadman’s switch, the trigger could have been something as simple as a certain number of days without an update from HugBunter. The worst-case scenario for users of Dread (and HugBunter) is death or law enforcement intervention. While both are possible explanations, it is far too early to make such a conclusion without additional information.
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A deadman’s switch, as explained by one dark web marketplace administrator, is a type of security system that is put in place to ensure the individual who set up said the system is functioning properly. This sounds very dramatic, like something you would see in an episode of Mr Robot but they have various uses as we have seen with both Edward Snowden and Wikileaks where if a predefined step or measure was not taken in a predefined amount of time files would be sent to a predefined location. It doesn’t always refer to the living status of an individual or being but the fact that if that person is not freely able to essentially flick off the switch something will be triggered.
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