According to web portal darkdot.com and anonymous journalist Darkdotfail, the popular darknet forum Dread has been down for a month. The well-known forum, which was a place for darknet market (DNM) patrons to discuss operations security, rate specific vendors, and talk about stealth delivery ideas, has been absent for 30 days. However, the forum’s founder, “Hugbunter,” has stated that it will relaunch in the near future.
Dread Forum Founder Announces Plans to Relaunch
In the underground world of darknet markets (DNMs), the forum Dread was known for being a go-to source of information. According to a Jan. 1, 2023 update hosted on darkdot.com, the forum has been down for a month. “Dread is a critical source of truth in an anonymous community proliferated with scams,” the update notes. “The popular Tor freedom of speech forum went offline on Nov. 30, 2022, and has yet to return.” The update adds that while the Dread admin team typically posts status updates on Reddit at /r/dreadalert, communication has been sparse.
The anonymous journalist known as Darkdotfail has written about the issue on Twitter and their website, dark.fail, also indicates that Dread is currently offline. According to a Jan. 5, 2023 update on the website, Dread is offline due to a DDOS attack and readers should follow /r/dreadalert for updates. On Jan. 2, 2023, the DNM and Tor researcher wrote that Dread’s founder, Hugbunter, had privately confirmed that the forum will return. “Dread’s now been offline for a month, Hugbunter privately confirmed to us that it will return,” Darkdotfail wrote. Two days later, Darkdotfail shared an update from the Reddit forum /r/dreadalert.
The privacy advocate and anonymous journalist said:
Hugbunter posted an update regarding Dread’s downtime to /r/dreadalert. Meanwhile, the team behind Incognito Market opportunistically coded and launched a competing forum, Libre, during Dread’s downtime. Never boring around here.
The message from Hugbunter, which includes the founder’s PGP signature, explains that the team has been “working extremely hard to restore service.” In the message, the Dread founder estimates that the team is about a week away from a solid estimated time of arrival (ETA).
“As of right now, we’re about a week out from being able to give a solid ETA on a return of Dread, but I will say we’re hopeful of it being next week,” Hugbunter detailed. “This depends on there being no further issues as we finalize everything on the server side and also if I manage to work through some rewrites of the codebase in a timely manner, however, it is not an easy or small task — So no further pressure please.”
This is not the first time Dread has experienced a significantly long downtime. On Sept. 30, 2019, Bitcoin.com News reported on the forum’s first major outage. At that time, Hugbunter’s dead man’s switch was triggered, resulting in a temporary loss of control over the forum. However, Hugbunter returned shortly after and validated the forum owner’s identity through the PGP keys associated with the Dread founder. The forum remained active, with some exceptions due to DDOS attacks, until Nov. 2022. In addition to Dread’s outage from DDOS attacks, the Tor Project reported that the Tor network itself has slowed by close to 50%.
In the Jan. 3 message, Hugbunter, the founder of Dread, detailed that the forum’s DDOS issues would be solved by the time it returns and “any other service who needs assistance.” Hugbunter promised that Dread will relaunch with a revamped user experience and proper DDOS protection, saying “the plans I have with the relaunch and also for the near future are going to allow all of us to move forward significantly and we will continue to innovate this space. We are not going anywhere and I still have much to provide and share.”