The FBI isn't the only US law enforcement agency on the dark web.
Considering that the digital drug trade relies on snail mail to transport goods, the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) works on related investigations too, and is now looking to expand its intelligence operations with more analysts. USPIS is the law enforcement arm of the US Postal Service (USPS).
According to a recent job listing sent to members of the information security community, the USPIS has an opening for an "Investigative (Internet) Analyst," to start as soon as possible. The investigator will use data from a number of sources, including open research and classified sources too.
"The cybercrime program reviews network data, collects forensic images, researches tools and technologies, administers hardware and software, conducts online investigations into black market/dark web activities affecting the USPS, its customer and employees," another similar job listing for an "Intelligence Gathering Specialist" reads.
Quite a bit of the analyst role will center around investigating dark web markets, judging by the description, which looks for experience with the "darknet," the Tor network, and bitcoins. The ultimate goal for much of this is to "determine physical attribution of an Internet identity," the listing reads. In other words, unmasking someone online. (The listing also looks for other skills, such as analyzing research results using graphical techniques, and using "cyber intelligence tools" to mine the open internet for information).
"The analyst shall be capable to use technology solutions to actively search, analyze and prioritize the various market places and cyber-criminals to identify high value targets for the USPIS investigators," the listing adds.
The USPIS has already provided assistance in various dark web investigations, including that of a man who sold stolen information on the AlphaBay marketplace, and November 2016's "Operation Hyperion", which targeted dark web vendors around the world. On Tuesday, a Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to distributing heroin via the dark web; the USPIS helped with that case too.
The USPIS isn't just growing because of booming dark web marketplaces however. It's also, in part, for defensive reasons.
"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service's Cybercrime program is expanding as a result of the intrusion experienced in 2014, which affected the Postal Service's enterprise network and infrastructure," Paul J. Krenn, national public information officer for the USPIS told Motherboard in an email. In 2014, hackers broke into the USPS compromising the personal information of more than 800,000 employees, The Washington Post reported at the time.
"As a result, the dark web, deep web and open source Internet information is important to position the organization with better cybersecurity defenses, cybercrime information, knowledge of cyber threats and cybercriminal activities, tactics and practices. The cybercrime program believes the information provided in these information outlets will help prioritize the cybercrime investigations toward those cyber-criminals who are using the U.S. Mail to facilitate crime and who are targeting the Postal Service, and its digital assets and infrastructure," Krenn added.