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229 drug dealers caught after failing to remove photo EXIF metadata


The dark web abounds in criminals, being the preferred marketplace to sell drugs, weapons, starter kits, arrange some type of foul play or promote the shadiest pornography. The encryption protocol of Tor keeps communication anonymous, making it hard to track them down; or so criminals think.

Two Harvard students have just proven otherwise after using GPS coordinates in pictures posted on the dark web to unmask 229 drug dealers. Although it’s become common among criminals to erase or disable altogether the metadata from JPG or TIFF formats, some weren’t that smart.

Paul Lisker and Michael Rose created an archive with pictures they saved from the dark web used initially by hackers to promote their services. The two collected some 223,471 unique images, out of which 229 revealed precisely where they had been taken because the EXIF data hadn’t been removed.

“First, it was common in many cases to observe sites, typically residential, surrounded by 5–10 tagged images separated by...(continued)

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