Irish man arrested as 'the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet'

Reports suggest a co-ordinated attack by the FBI that took down some of the world's most well-hidden illegal websites

A 28-year old Irish man described by the FBI as “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet” is facing extradition to the US. This follows news of a co-ordinated attack apparently carried by American law enforcement on hidden internet servers thought to host images of child abuse.

Eric Eoin Marques has both US and Irish citizenship and was arrested on a Maryland warrant for charges of ‘distributing and promoting child pornography on the internet’.

The Independent of Ireland reports that the content involved was “described as being extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.” Marques has not been the subject of a police inquiry prior to these charges and faces prison time of up to 30 years if convicted.

Marques is known to be heavily involved in the Tor network (a system of servers and protocols that anonymises internet use) and is also the alleged founder of Freedom Hosting; a company that many claimed provided webhosting services for the web’s most notorious sites, sponsoring all manner of illegal activity from hacking to the drug trade.

Freedom Hosting was well known for its lax approach to illegal material, with the company warning customers that whilst they shouldn’t upload such content to their servers “if you chose to do so anyway, we are not responsible for your actions.”

On Saturday morning at approximately 6:40am ET websites registered with the company were shut down simultaneously. The Daily Dot reports that those sites that did come back online were infected with Javascript code that sent users’ login details to an unknown location.

Whilst it’s not been confirmed whether the attack on Freedom Hosting and the subsequent insertion of code was organised by US law enforcement, the methods are the same as those previously used by the FBI.

 Similarly, the absence of malicious code from the Javascript eplxoit and the the timing of the arrest of Marques (news of which broke on the web shortly after the websites were taken down) strongly suggest a co-ordinated operation.

 

What is Tor and how is it involved?

Tor, or The Onion Router, is in no way connected to Marques' business, and have sought to distance themselves from Freedom Hosting on several occasions. Many companies use Tor’s protocols to offer ‘hidden services’ and Freedom Hosting is simply the largest and most well-known.

“Anyone can run hidden services, and many do,” say Tor. “Other organizations run hidden services to protect dissidents, activists, and protect the anonymity of users trying to find help for suicide prevention, domestic violence, and abuse-recovery.”

“Whistleblowers and journalists use hidden services to exchange information in a secure and anonymous way and publish critical information in a way that is not easily traced back to them. The New Yorker's Strongbox is one public example.”

Using Tor stops intelligence organizations from performing ‘traffic analysis’ on individuals – tracking who they talk to and when, as well as tracking behaviour and interests. This is similar to the ‘metadata’ collected by government intelligence agencies such as GCHQ and the NSA.

Tor essentially re-routes your data through a series of points, creating a complicated and diffuse ‘path’ through the internet that is extremely difficult to follow.

Reports suggest that Freedom Hosting was compromised through an exploit in the Tor Browser Bundle – a plugin for the Firefox that provides an easy introduction to the service. It’s not yet known how widespread the exploit is, or whether it compromises the activity of journalists and activists who might rely on Tor for their safety.

Speaking to The Independent, a spokesperson for Tor said: "In the larger picture, the Tor Browser is a piece of software. All software has bugs and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We believe that currently released versions of Tor Browser are safe from this specific malware attack. We'll have a security advisory out soon explaining the details."

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine