Listen Music during reading my blog

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Underweb anger as Silk Road seller does a runner

Silk Road is the Amazon of the drug trade.


The top Australian seller on underground online drug marketplace Silk Road has gone rogue and made off with tens of thousands of dollars, while several other Australian sellers appear to be missing in action.
The exodus comes after 32-year-old Paul Howard was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail this month by a Melbourne judge after being caught using Silk Road to import a "smorgasbord" of drugs such as cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine, which he then sold.
Now Australian Silk Road user EnterTheMatrix, who received dozens of glowing reviews and more than 99 per cent positive feedback selling prescription medication, LSD, MDMA and other substances via express post, has disappeared, leaving behind scores of angry customers who have paid for but not received their items.


Those who buy from Silk Road run the risk of Customs intercepting their package but many are happy to take that chance. 
 
 

"The game's out there, and it's play or get played. That simple," EnterTheMatrix later wrote on their Silk Road vendor page, quoting TV series The Wire, before deleting their user account.
On the Silk Road forum the disappearance of several other Australian sellers has been noted, but EnterTheMatrix appears to be the most brazen as they were in the top 1 per cent of sellers and had recently offered significant discounts such as a "one day only" Valentine's Day sale in order to entice a stampede of buyers.
The consensus on the site appears to be that EnterTheMatrix was looking to cash out and disappear following increased attention from Australian law enforcement.
Silk Road users were in disbelief this week.
"One of the reasons it is so hard to understand why he would pull this scam is because he was making so much money anyway. His prices were high, his sales volume was high, too," wrote one.
Silk Road users have eBay-style feedback ratings, pay for goods using encrypted digital currency Bitcoins and access the site using the Tor network, making it very difficult for law enforcement to combat the trade.
Customs and the Australian Federal Police have had some success using the old-fashioned method of intercepting parcels once they reach the country (as in the case of Howard), but many packages go unchecked and suspicious ones that are picked up rarely have identifying features.
Customs says it seizes a "significant amount" of cocaine and MDMA in the mail that has been bought through Silk Road and claims its web is getting "tighter with every transaction".
Customs believes its efforts have resulted in "an increasing trend on Silk Road, whereby several "anonymous" dealers have announced on forums that they will no longer sell to Australians or have imposed more stringent transaction rules on Australian buyers."
"This demonstrates that Customs and Border Protection is actively disrupting this illegal trade in dangerous drugs."
Fairfax Media has seen posts on the Silk Road forum from last year where sellers refused to sell to Australians following many scam attempts by buyers, who claim not to have received packages.
It is not clear how much Customs and the AFP had to do with this.
Last year the AFP took action on several occasions against people who imported drugs through the postal system. In June Andrew Fennell was sentenced to two years and eight months imprisonment after police seized 533 pills sent to him through the post.
Dr Monica Barratt of the National Drug Research Institute, who is researching Silk Road, said recent developments may reduce the sense of trust Australian buyers have in the Silk Road site and its vendors.
"Nevertheless, while there is a demand for its products and there are vendors willing to sell, there will likely continue to be some Australian buyers willing to take the risk, whether that is on Silk Road or any other dark-web marketplace," she said.
Melbourne writer, journalist and blogger Eiley Ormsby, who has been closely following Silk Road for some time, said the EnterTheMatrix scam was similar to one pulled by Canadian heroin and amphetamine dealer Tony76 in April last year.
She suspects the Australian sellers who left the site did so after being spooked by Howard's prosecution.
"Howard was relatively small-time compared to a seller like EnterTheMatrix and it would not surprise me if the sentence was a wake-up call and they decided it was time to cut out," she said.
But University of Canberra adjunct associate professor Nigel Phair, a former Detective Superintendent with the AFP, said he believed there was "little law enforcement" attention being paid to Silk Road and it was generally easy to get away with buying and selling on the site.
Last year Carnegie Mellon professor Nicholas Christin estimated Silk Road was doing $22 million in annual revenue, and the site has been growing consistently as its notoriety has increased.

Can an online market for meth, smack and pot win?




ATLANTA — Senator Chuck Schumer called it “a certifiable one-stop shop” for meth, heroin and cocaine, “the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen.”
That was in June 2011, just days after Gawker writer Adrian Chen outed the site, known as Silk Road.
Schumer’s outrage was palpable. He commanded Attorney General Eric Holder to shut down the clandestine marketplace.
But in the nearly two years that have passed, that apparently hasn’t happened.
The site mysteriously disappeared for two weeks in November 2012, and its proprietor, alias Dread Pirate Roberts, went incommunicado from online forums. That led some to speculate that law enforcement had shut it down.
But the opposite now appears to be true.
Due to an explosion in popularity, Silk Road’s infrastructure had to be rebuilt to accommodate new customers and security, Dread Pirate Roberts said in a post following his return. And performance measures were added to better protect users.
Rather than getting busted, Silk Road appears to be getting more robust.
In early 2012 the site was carrying out “slightly over $1.2 million per month” in transactions, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon professor Nicholas Christin, who conducted “daily crawls of the marketplace for nearly six months in 2012.” And business was growing steadily, albeit not “exponentially, as reported in forums,” Christin reports, resulting in commissions of $92,000 a month for the site itself.
That, of course, is pocket change in the world of transnational drug trafficking, where hundreds of billions of dollars change hands every year. But as Schumer’s comment reveals, Silk Road’s overt flouting of the law raises heckles.
Silk Road is by no means the first online marketplace for illicit drugs. Others have included Black Market, The Armory, Reloaded and General Store.
Law enforcement agencies around the world are fighting an arduous battle with these sites, albeit with some success.
Eight individuals were arrested in the US last year in connection with online drug trafficking, although none involved Silk Road. Australia nabbed the first Silk Road-related conviction in February 2013, when a Melbourne court found Paul Leslie Howard guilty of selling cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, LSD and marijuana. He faces three to five years in prison.
While law enforcement authorities are eager to shutter Silk Road, knowledgeable sources say doing so will be challenging, thanks to the elaborate measures the site has taken to protect its clients.
“Silk Road is something we are aware of,” said US Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson Rusty Payne.
“Internet drug trafficking is really difficult to enforce. There are a lot of challenges, and a lot of technology that makes it difficult for law enforcement,” Payne said. “Many times, it’s easy to hide behind a server.”
Hiding from authorities, while making itself available to those in the know, is precisely what Silk Road is all about.
For starters, you can’t find it through Google, nor is a visit as simple as typing silkroad.com. To maintain customer anonymity, the site is only accessible through TOR, a decentralized server network that lets users mask their online identities and encrypt their internet connections. Once you get on TOR, Silk Road’s web address is not very viral: ianxz6zefk72ulzz.onion.
While TOR’s strength means there’s little chance that authorities can identify dealers and customers on the site, another potential choke point involves the currency used to conduct the transactions.
To avoid the easily-tracked trail left by credit cards, customers must make purchases usingbitcoin — a digital currency championed as a way of maintaining online privacy. Bitcoin is not completely anonymous on its own, but it can be customized to obscure a user’s identity.
“I call it user defined anonymity because it’s not anonymous out of the box. It’s anonymous only for careful users,” said Jon Matonis, an e-money researcher, former Hushmail CEO and member of the bitcoin foundation. “Just like you practice safe sex, you have to practice safe bitcoin.”
Increasingly, law enforcement agencies are hostile to bitcoin, regarding it as a black market currency.
“Bitcoin will likely continue to attract cyber criminals who view it as a means to move or steal funds as well as a means of making donations to illicit groups,” read a report released by the FBI last year. “If bitcoin stabilizes and grows in popularity, it will become an increasingly useful tool for various illegal activities beyond the cyber realm.”
Still, law enforcement agencies are thought to be devising strategies to take down online offenders using vulnerabilities posed by bitcoin.
And banning the service would come with its own collateral impact. For example, bloggers in places like Saudi Arabia and Vietnam can use bitcoin to pay for hosting services on WordPress, reducing the likelihood that local authorities could discover their identities.
“In the long run [law enforcement] will be looking for some regulatory choke points and they’re going to be disappointed,” Matonis said. “Bitcoin is not illegal in any country but it’s also not currency. You’re trading a math puzzle.”
For now, Bitcoin remains a relatively minor concern; its value in circulation amounts to “only about $130 million in total,” added Matonis, and drug trafficking is thought to account for a small fraction.
“That’s like money that falls into the drug dealer’s sofa,” Matonis said.
But in spite of law enforcement’s struggles in policing the online drug trade, Silk Road user anonymity may not be as ironclad as customers believe.
While internet denizens widely trust that the TOR network will maintain anonymity, that confidence may be misplaced.
“It is not impossible to crack TOR network. It’s notoriously bad from a security prospective,” said Richard Stiennon, author of “Surviving Cyberwar” and chief research analyst at IT-Harvest, a digital security firm. Stiennon also noted that he had personally witnessed the TOR network being cracked and exploited.
Law enforcement has already shown itself able to breach online “anonymizers.” In 2012, for instance, there were a number of arrests of hackers involved in online collectives like Anonymous.
“I’ve seen in the last two years a rapid learning curve [that law enforcement] has climbed. They’re able to infiltrate networks, pose as members of the community, interact and get enough information to identify people,” Stiennon said.
While there are a plethora of anonymizers available to users, the level of trust placed in organizations and developers behind the software is in many cases unjustified. Companies often claim that server logs and other user information are not kept on file but such claims are virtually impossible to confirm.
“A lot of anonymizers claim they don’t keep logs but how do you know that’s the truth?” Stiennon said.
To stem the flow of drugs into the online market, law enforcement may need to rely on the skills acquired in policing hacker collectives rather than regulating a burgeoning market for online currency. In spite of bitcoin’s use for illegal online purchases, the transaction is not dissimilar from a typical cash purchase of drugs in the real world illicit marketplace.
“With paper cash, you have privacy. You can go out and buy whatever you want with cash anonymously and it’s untraceable. If a woman wants to pay for an abortion anonymously but she doesn’t want to have her credit card used in the transaction, she can still go and pay with cash,” Matonis said. “We already use paper cash anonymously and untraceably in our lives today. The only thing bitcoin does is retain that same privacy in the digital environment.”
silkroadlogo
“An individual’s rights ARE the goal, ARE the mission, ARE the program.”
When Silk Road launched in February 2011, it was one of several online marketplaces selling drugs to the public. If a buyer wanted to shop around, the Open Vendor Database (OVDB) and The Farmer’s Market (TFM) were two other relatively popular options available around that time. In 2012, OVDB was absorbed into Silk Road and TFM fell to a major drug bust. The Silk Road remains active today as the largest market of its kind.
Online drug markets have a long, difficult-to-pin-down past that extends back beyond Silk Road and the Bitcoins spent there to more than a decade of dealing over different mediums. Finding information on past markets is difficult. When asked, some veteran vendors will talk about older digital currencies such as e-gold, PecunixLiberty Reserve and even Western Union and PayPal being used on markets like The Hive or in small, ephemeral IRC channels. Still others point to deals made in the 1990s and even further back on Usenet.
Some of the old vendors and buyers from these markets will not talk about them in public. Years after most of these markets ceased to exist, former patrons still stick to an old ethos that once covered them all: Loose lips sink ships.
It took black markets like Silk Road using anonymizing tools such as Bitcoin and Tor to bring these activities closer to sunlight.
“Silk Road is hands down the most popular mainstream internet drug market to ever be,” wrote user kmfkewm. “It also uses some of the best security honestly, although there is room for improvement for sure. It was the first community to embrace Bitcoin and one of the first to operate openly (OVDB launching almost simultaneously and Black Market Reloaded coming shortly after). It was the second drug market to be structured similar to E-bay or Amazon (the others were more like OVDB with a forum and private message system versus a market interface). TFM was the first market to have a market interface built into their community as far as I know, but I am pretty sure the Silk Road interface pwnt theirs.”
silk road today
Whereas most older markets had operated as closed forums, chats, instant messages or otherwise privately organized groups, Silk Road is the most recognizable name in a new generation of marketplaces. The site’s open market, large and active community, polished interface and business model mimicking the best of eBay, Craigslist and Amazon have played instrumental roles in the rise of the Road.


For a buyer, the site is simple. He downloads the anonymizing tool Tor, signs up for a free account on Silk Road and purchases encrypted Bitcoins to use in the market. Ideally, the buyer will take his time to search for a vendor with a good reputation selling a product with positive feedback on the forums. Or, as happens often enough, the buyer will hurry to buy LSD from the first dealer he spots. When the buyer has found what he wants, he can place it in a shopping cart as if he was buying a classic baseball card on eBay.
Next, Silk Road receives the buyer’s money in an escrow “as a trusted third party”, takes a commision off the top and then launders it to sever any traceable connections it had to the buyer. The vendor is informed of the purchase and given the buyer’s shipping address.
When the product is received, the buyer can “finalize” the transaction and release the funds. If there’s a problem, Silk Road will step in to mediate. The site’s administrators say that over 99% of transactions go through successfully or are mediated to a mutually agreed upon conclusion. Independent studies of feedback on the market have confirmed those numbers as strongly as is independently possible. Beyond the sale, buyers and sellers can affect each other’s reputation by submitting ratings similar to eBay’s feedback and rating system and by posting reviews in the forums.
There’s nothing else quite like it out there. Today, imitators and off-shoots are building new marketplaces with lessons learned from Silk Road. It’s a system that has helped to launch a new generation of black markets that have stymied law enforcement the world over.
But even for the most enthusiastic buyers and sellers, Silk Road is far from perfect.

The Bitcoin itself has been one of the site’s major strengths thanks to the relative anonymity and security it provides. It’s also been the cause of serious pain for vendors and buyers alike. When Silk Road launched, Bitcoin was a famously volatile currency with a tendency to lose and gain significant value in sudden swings.
“I have been here for many of [Silk Road’s] new adaptations,” wrote user anarcho47. “When I first started selling on here, there was no hedging against BTC fluctuations and this is back when BTC was making its wild swings from $1.00 – $30.00+ and all over the map, so buyers would be hesitant to purchase while the price was going up, and sellers would cancel orders while the price was going down. The few ones that stayed honest (myself included) hardly made any money at this time, and the currency issues alone completely wiped out more than a couple of sellers.”
Silk Road had a working community of buyers and sellers from day one. From then, word of mouth in the growing Bitcoin community and curious onlookers around the web steadily built up the user base in what was a young but already impressive marketplace.
As with any other market, price can attract or repel money from Silk Road. Depending on when and what you look for, you may find drugs on sale for less than local street value. More commonly, prices are at least slightly inflated but come with the benefits of anonymity that Bitcoin and Tor provide.
As Silk Road matured, the market diversified. Marijuana has always been the most popular product but harder drugs have become more readily available over time. Sellers began to offer products outside of drugs including hardware, pirated digital goods, forged documents, guns and stolen web accounts. Nevertheless, drugs have remained the market’s dominant offering by far.
Dread Pirate Roberts, the now famous and much-loved libertarian founder of Silk Road, began as the head administrator and a vendor on the site. As its popularity increased by word of mouth, he quickly stepped back to what he says is a purely managerial role. Doing this avoids potential conflict with customers, allows him to dedicate more time to role of CEO and, perhaps most importantly, vexes law enforcement who would like nothing more than for Roberts to poke his head out from the shadows.

By May 2011, the site had grown quickly to an active user base in the hundreds according to Bitcoin Magazine. On June 1, 2011, Gawker’s Adrian Chen published an article showing Silk Road to the world.
Making small talk with your pot dealer sucks. Buying cocaine can get you shot. What if you could buy and sell drugs online like books or light bulbs? Now you can: Welcome to Silk Road.
About three weeks ago, the U.S. Postal Service delivered an ordinary envelope to Mark’s door. Inside was a tiny plastic bag containing 10 tabs of LSD. “If you had opened it, unless you were looking for it, you wouldn’t have even noticed,” Mark told us in a phone interview.
Chen’s article changed Silk Road forever. When Silk Road showed up in one of the most influential blogs on the net, the stream of new users became a torrent. Soon, prominent politicians expressed disdain for the “brazen” and “audacious” selling of drugs. Law enforcement expressed frustration at their inability to act against the site.
The public had many reactions but, above all else, they were intensely interested in what was happening. Silk Road is a seductive experiment in tech, economics, anonymity, crime, law enforcement, drugs, personal freedom and community. Even many of those disgusted with the ideas promoted by the market have long had their eyes glued to the drama unfolding.
Thousands of new users rushed into the marketplace to see if it wasn’t just a mirage. Membership jumped “an order of magnitude to over ten thousand,” reported Bitcoin Magazine.
The new members were initially faced with a creaky Silk Road website that went down for several days under the weight of sudden massive publicity. Eager scammers waited to prey on the curious newbies. A still-volatile Bitcoin made doing business even riskier as its value quickly doubled, halved and then continued to fall as it adjusted to the rush in the days following the influx. “Silk Road suffered as the price fell from $31 to $2 between June and November, making it difficult for sellers to make money,” reported Bitcoin Magazine.
After the new users purchased Bitcoins, they made orders in droves and turned what was a reasonably popular marketplace into a singularly successful business. Dread Pirate Roberts began work on upgrading the infrastructure to deal with the surge in traffic. Technical difficulties on the site, economic woes for the Bitcoin currency and security difficulties facing the web’s largest BTC exchange led many curious new faces to leave or step back considerably during 2011.
However, reports of the death of Bitcoin turned out to be greatly exaggerated. The price of Bitcoins would rebound and eventually stabilize towards the end of the year. Despite all the hiccups, Silk Road was traveling on an indisputably upward trajectory.
To help fight Bitcon volatility, a “hedged escrow” option was introduced for buyers and sellers in July 2011. Today, Bitcoins are converted into US Dollars after the purchase, held in an escrow and then quickly changed back as the transaction is finalized, shielding both sides significantly from whatever currency volatility may creep up. When Roberts announced the new option, the site’s American majority seemed just as pleased as international users.
Whatever else was being said about him, Roberts and his team were repeatedly proving themselves to be supremely competent businessmen.
Bitcoin exchange volume distribution
The exchange volume distribution by BTC market and currency. Source: Bitcoincharts

On August 16, Dread Pirate Roberts announced that he was hiring new talent with an attention-grabbing $1,000 referral prize.
We are looking for a unix administrator to add to our team. The person in this position will be responsible for the security, reliability and performance of our servers. They should have at least several years of experience and be able to formulate and clearly communicate new ideas for improving our systems. This is a temporary position that could turn into a more permanent arrangement depending on your performance and character. To apply, please send your answers to the following questions via the “contact us” link on the main site. Use the subject line “unix admin application”.
Why do you want to join the Silk Road team?
Describe your experience as a unix admin and your skill set. Do you have other skills that might be applicable to our operation?
If you were starting from scratch, how would you set up the Silk Road servers to maximize security, performance, and reliability?
Are you able to work full-time (40+ hrs/week), part-time (at least 20 hrs/week), or both?
How much would you need to be paid?
Were you referred by someone? Who?
How did you hear about Silk Road?
What is your drug of choice, if any?
Anything else we should consider?
We are offering a $1000 to anyone who refers the person we hire
About 4,000 people have viewed the offer, many of whom said publicly that they’d be sending in resumes. Several site members became nervous about a public hiring.
“Wouldn’t it make sense for you to hire someone that you know and trust?” wrote user whome. “The paranoid me jumped out of his shorts when he saw this ad. What if someone says hire this guy! and that guy is Law Enforcement…”
“your concern is appropriate,” wrote Roberts. “However, the person we hire will not be put in a position to be able to compromise the site.  There are also substantial advantages over using someone I know.  In an operation like this, people are the biggest liability.  Someone I know and trust can tell someone I don’t know and trust what’s going on.  If this person needs to be let go for any reason, there are no loose ends.”
Not all the Silk Roaders were convinced.
“Really? I don’t think this is a good idea,” wrote user envious. “How could he not be in a position to compromise the site?
You have to at least give him some sort of SSH access, and local root exploits are a dime a dozen. Just do your homework and run OpenBSD with full ASLR and isolate each process in a VM. Then your site is virtually impenetrable.”
Roberts explained the new position further.
“Access is not necessary,” he wrote. “At least at first, this person will be more of a dedicated expert adviser. There are many layers to this site and more we want to add, and unfortunately my expertise and time are maxed out. Several members have been very generous in volunteering their time to help improve the site, but by their nature, volunteers can only do so much and have other obligations. Right now we need someone with plenty expertise who can dedicate their time to this project and help take it to the next level. If all goes well, we’ll be opening up other positions too.”
“A random advisor could still be in the position to trick you into installing something dangerous,” responded envious. “For instance they could work with some sort of software developer, install a backdoor and host it on the actual real hosting site, and tell you to install it. Instantly rooted. I think it should be someone you semi-trust, not some random. Not someone CLOSE to you per say, but someone that you have known for a while, has a history in the scene, and you are pretty confident they are not LE. Hope this helps.”
Several other forum members continued to discuss the idea of outside hiring and related security concerns. Other more enthusiastic users discussed passing the wanted ad onto qualified friends from major tech companies such as Cisco. Roberts withdrew from the conversation except for one more update:
“I’ve been blown away by the caliber of the applicants so far.”

Drugs launched Silk Road into the stratosphere but the marketplace has had much more to offer since launch. Whether you want to buy a MacBook, cell phone jammer or imitation designer fashion, Silk Road has a section for you to browse. However, there are limits.
“Practically speaking, there are many powerful adversaries of Silk Road and if we are to survive, we must not take them all on at once,” reads the Silk Road Seller’s Guide. “Do not list anything who’s (sic) purpose is to harm or defraud, such as stolen items or info, stolen credit cards, counterfeit currency, personal info, assassinations, and weapons of any kind. Do not list anything related to pedophilia.”
All the above — from child pornography to weapons to stolen credit cards — are easily available in other marketplaces around the web.
In fact, Silk Road had allowed the sale of small-arms through the first year of its existence. It was a regular source of debate on moral, ethical and business grounds.
“Silk Road should strive to have every item and service that subverts the power of the state,” wrote user dird in January 2012.
“How much of us wants this place to represent some philosophical/ideological/social idea,” wrote user prsnnknwn, “vs. how much of us wants it to be another convenience store (yeah, unusual, but still, just another one). And from there you can start ask whether we should ban this or that or nothing whatsoever.”
Polls on the subject were repeatedly split near the middle.
On February 26, 2012, Dread Pirate Roberts opened an off-shoot of the Silk Road called the Armory focused “exclusively on the sale of small-arms weaponry for the purpose of self defense.”
First off, we at Silk Road have no moral objection to the sale of small-arm weaponry. We believe that an individual’s ability to defend themselves is a cornerstone of a civil society. Without this, those with weapons with eventually walk all over defenseless individuals. It could be criminals who prey on others, knowing they are helpless. It could be police brutalizing people with no fear of immediate reprisal. And as was seen too many times in the last century, it could be an organized government body committing genocide on an entire unarmed populace. Without the ability to defend them, the rest of your human rights will be eroded and stripped away as well.
That being said, there is no reason we have to force everyone into a one-size-fits-all market where one group has to compromise their beliefs for the benefit of another. That’s the kind of narrow thinking currently used by governments around the world. It’s why we are in this mess in the first place. The majority in many countries feel that drugs and guns should be illegal or heavily regulated, so the minority suffers.
Here at Silk Road, we recognize the smallest minority of all, YOU! Every person is unique, and their human rights are more important than any lofty goal, any mission, or any program. An individual’s rights ARE the goal, ARE the mission, ARE the program. If the majority wants to ban the sale of guns on Silk Road, there is no way we are going to turn our backs on the minority who needs weaponry for self defense.
The Armory lasted only six months until August 16, 2012 when it was shut down due to slow business. After all, it’s usually easy for most American citizens to purchase guns from local dealers with greater privacy, a lower price and, often, completely legally.
“As someone who likes guns and likes privacy, I saw no real benefit to having the Armory,” wrote user IveBeenBit. “In most states in the US, you can get what you want and do so privately or semi-privately, and completely legally. We’re lucky to have some REALLY powerful lobbyists that have successfully hampered the government’s tracking of firearms ownership.
The online weapons market is far from dead. With The Armory gone, Black Market Reloaded is now likely the most popular limitless Tor market. Even there, the gun market is many times smaller than the drug market. Overall, BMR carries less than half the volume of goods offered at Silk Road. It also has far less publicity. BMR users generally like it that way.

The attempt to create a separate market for guns highlighted Dread Pirate Robert’s political streak. His brand of active anti-state libertarianism has been the subject of much discussion. In answering questions on the forums and in private, Robert has made his ideology well known. He’s produced a number of political essays that have attracted great attention in the community.
Here he is laying out his vision of drug legalization and the future of personal freedom:
I keep hearing this argument come up when people talk about drug prohibition: legalize, regulate and tax it. On the surface it sounds like a good idea. No more drug war, more tax revenue, government regulators can make sure it is safe. Makes sense, right?
I can’t help but think something is wrong though. Feels like the bastards that have been screwing everyone over all this time still win in this scenario. Now all that money can go to the state and to their cronies, right?
Here’s the rub: the drug war is an acute symptom of a deeper problem, and that problem is the state. If they “legalize, regulate and tax” it, it’s just one more part of society under their thumb, another productive sector that they can leech off of.
If prohibition is lifted, most people here will go away. You’ll go back to your lives and get your drugs from whatever state certified dispensaries are properly licensed to sell to you. Drug use will be as interesting as smoking and drinking.
Here’s my point: Silk Road is about something much bigger than thumbing your nose at the man and getting your drugs anyway. It’s about taking back our liberty and our dignity and demanding justice. If prohibition is lifted, and the drug industry is placed under the yoke of the state, then we won in a small way, but lost in a big way. Right now, drugs are ours. They aren’t tainted by the government. We the people control their manufacture, distribution and consumption. We should be looking to expand that control, taking back our power, no giving what is ours to the very people that have been our enemies all along.
It’s easy to justify though. Think of all the horrors the war on drugs has caused that will be gone, almost instantly. That pain could stop!
Don’t be tempted by this short-term easy fix of “let the government handle it.” Their time is coming to an end. The future is OUR time. Let us take this opportunity they’ve given us to gain a foothold from which we can throw that yoke off completely. We are NOT beasts of burden to be taxed and controlled and regulated. WE are free spirits! We DEMAND respect! The future can be a time where the human spirit flourishes, unbridled, wild and free! Don’t be so quick to put on that harness and pull for the parasites.
If prohibition is lifted, where will you be? Will you forget about all this revolution stuff? Will you go back to ignoring that itching feeling that something isn’t right, that men in uniforms and behind desks have just a bit too much control over your life, and are taking more and more of your sovereignty every day? Will you go back to thinking that taxes are as inevitable as death and the best you can do is to pull as hard as you can for them until you mind, body and spirit are all used up? Or will you feel the loss, as one more wild west frontier comes under the dominion of the enemy, and redouble your efforts to stop it?
I know where I’ll be. I won’t rest until children are born into a world where oppression, institutional violence and control, world war, and all the other hallmarks of the state are as ancient history as pharaohs commanding armies of slaves. The drug war merely brings to light their nature and shows us who they really are. Legalizing it won’t change that and will only make them stronger.
Hold on to what you DO have, and stand for the freedom you deserve!
If Dread Pirate Roberts believed much in the state, he might have some support in a political campaign with that sort of rhetorical arsenal. In his forum signature, he links to Murray N. Rothbard’s Libertarian Manifesto and Samuel Edward Konkin III’s New Libertarian Manifesto.
As it stands, Roberts is the CEO of the world’s largest online drug market and a crusader against what he sees as violent, vile statist oppression. He seems happier this way. Wealthier, too.

Nicolas Christin, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon, monitored Silk Road from February to July 2012. Released in August, the study made headlines all over the web when it claimed that the marketplace had $22 million in sales during that period. “Dr. Christin will be publishing a revised version later this month that lowers the estimate to around $15 million,” reported The Verge in November.
The researchers found 24,422 unique items being sold. From 220 distinct sellers in February, the researchers saw 564 by the end of July. Top 100 vendors may be earning $180,000 per year from Silk Road alone. “Superstar sellers” could take in much more. Considering an overall population of at least tens of thousands of users overall and several thousands of active users, the ratio of buyers to sellers seems extremely high.
Silk Road’s growth was steady but not exponential in 2012. The Road gained about 50 new active sellers each month but many left after just a few weeks. It’s worth noting that a number of these disappearing vendors may have gone into “stealth mode” — that is, they sold privately to their established customers rather than publicly. Stealth vendors may go hidden to avoid unwanted notoriety and the torrent of orders that a “superstar seller” may receive.
cmsellers
A total of 1,397 sellers were documented during the study but “the top 100 sellers were responsible for approximately 60% of all feedback gathered, a strong indicator of the number of sales made.” For all of Silk Road’s growth, it seems a steady core of vendors has remained the foundation on which the market’s success has been built.
cmreport2
“The four most popular categories are all linked to drugs; nine of the top ten, and sixteen out of the top twenty are drug-related. In other words, Silk Road is mostly a drug store, even though it also caters some other products. Finally, among narcotics, even though such a classification is somewhat arbitrary, Silk Road appears to have more inventory in “soft drugs” (e.g., weed, cannabis, hash, seeds) than “hard drugs” (e.g., opiates); this presumably simply reflects market demand.”
As the researchers crawled Silk Road, several changes took place that made profiling the site more difficult.
“Whether this was due to Silk Road operators noticing our crawls or to other activity is unclear,” wrote Christin.
URL structure changed. Instead of items and users being referenced by a linearly increasing numeric identifier (/silkroad/user/795, /silkroad/user/796), they became unique hashes (/silkroad/user/b00812aa62). Feedback data was obfuscated until strong push back from sellers and buyers alike convinced Roberts to revert back to a system with time-stamped, per-item feedback.
The day-by-day of Silk Road’s security is obviously difficult or impossible to pin down. These changes caught by the researchers provide valuable insight into where Roberts’ gaze is directed at least some of the time.

Like a lumbering bear swatting at bees, hitting nothing but air and feeling a bit slow and stung, law enforcement have come across as impotent against Silk Road.
The most notable hit law enforcement has landed against Silk Road came in July when Australian police arrested a Melbourne resident attempting to smuggle drugs into the country, reported Betabeat.
Australian law enforcement published a triumphant press release.
Silk Road is an overseas based illicit e-commerce website which facilitates the sale of drugs, weapons and other items prohibited under Australian law.
Law enforcement is well aware of this method of drug procurement and other illicit e-commerce platforms and are committed to identifying and combating users importing narcotics via this website into Australia.
“Criminals are attempting to exploit the international mail system through online networks, but the recent arrest demonstrates that we are one step ahead of them.
“The AFP will continue to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals or groups importing narcotics into Australia, including via illicit e-commerce platforms such as Silk Road,” said Australian Federal Police Manager Crime Operations Peter Sykora.
“Persons who buy or sell through online market places, on so-called ‘anonymous’ networks should understand that they are not guaranteed anonymity,” said Acting National Manager Cargo and Maritime Targeting Branch, Alana Sullivan.
srchDespite the ominous warning to Silk Road users, there are important caveats to note. The consensus is that the suspect was caught through more traditional means — that is, the product was likely nabbed in the mail. This scenario presents its own set of issues relating to packaging and international mailing. The prospect of mailing to island nations is particularly interesting as they can guard their borders relatively effectively.
However, an intercepted package is far less daunting to Silk Road than the prospect of governments monitoring Tor or Bitcoin’s anonymizing services. Much to their collective delight, that is not what seems to have happened despite the grandstanding of the police.

The most pervasive threats to the site have been scammers and hackers.
Vendors often convince naive, impatient buyers to purchase drugs outside of Silk Road’s escrow, leaving those buyers vulnerable to scams.
Early in 2012, the site’s top vendor held a major 4/20 sale in which he convinced buyers to either go outside of escrow or, if in escrow, finalize the deal before they’d received their drugs. He delivered none of the product and walked away with a whole lot of cash in one fell swoop.
This is a scene that has repeated itself numerous times on Silk Road and across other anonymous marketplaces that have grown in its shadow. Buyers become vulnerable when they choose to purchase goods outside of escrow and vendors are vulnerable to buyers who lie and cheat and in an effort to harm the vendor’s business.
Hackers have attacked Silk Road, disrupting business and bringing the whole market down for days at a time.
By November 2012, Silk Road was in “uncharted territory in terms of the number of users accessing Silk Road,” wrote Roberts. “Most of the time we’ve been able to keep up with the demand, but we ARE behind the curve right now. Being the largest hidden service ever to exist and having limited options for expanding infrastructure due to the need for security means we may stay behind the curve until we can find a way to accommodate the demand. There are several paths we are currently pursuing and we hope to be back on track very soon. Please be patient and try using the site during off-peak times”
On November 8, it was discovered that a “very skilled and clever” hacker had changed product images, added a “Quick Buy” option that included a Bitcoin address, removed shipping options and made it impossible to place an order for nearly a week, explained Dread Pirate Roberts once the site was back online. “It doesn’t look like anybody fell for it & the hack didn’t affect most of the product listings, they however do not have backups of the original images so these will have to be reuploaded by the vendors.”
Several Silk Roaders wondered if the hacker (who used an SQL injection) was now the proud owner of the Road’s entire database. If so, would Roberts say so? What exact data does that entail? Is the Silk Road’s database now for sale on another less visible black market?
Every time Silk Road stumbles, Black Market Reloaded and other competitors tend to grow as vendors look for alternative markets. BMR has a significantly smaller customer base but has no limits on what can be sold and sports an interface very similar to Silk Road’s, putting it in a unique and attractive position. During the Road’s troubles this past November, a number of vendors publicly explored BMR’s marketplace and have increased the amount of drugs available there.

Today, there are one to two hundred active users on Silk Road at any given time. The total membership sits around 50,000 but that no doubt includes many clones.
The most active thread on Silk Road’s forums is h3ЯØ|n Vendors, a vendor review discussion at 198,000 views and 14,793 replies. LSD, coke, MDMA and meth review threads follow. You can view publicly available and up-to-date stats from Silk Road’s forums here.
Silk Road remains the net’s largest hidden service of all time and an increasingly important cornerstone of the Bitcoin economy. Dread Pirate Roberts remains an endlessly fascinating figure. Orders keep coming in, deliveries continue to be successfully made and money keeps moving from wallet to wallet.

RAMP: Russian Anonymous MarketPlace

Archives For Russian Anonymous MarketPlace

ramp
A Russian law passed in November 2012 aimed at blacklisting sites promoting drug use has apparently just blocked the popular drug education website Erowid.org for certain users in the country according to a post on Reddit. A Russian government site listing prohibited sites shows that Erowid was added to the register earlier this month and was blocked on February 23. Russian user GreatfulListener says it is only “a matter of time” before the block affects more Russian internet service providers.
Erowid remains available in Russia via the Tor network. In fact, the Russian Tor community has undergone significant growth over the last year. RAMP, the Russian Anonymous MarketPlace, is now providing a leading Russian alternative to the English-speaking Silk Road.
RAMP, founded in early 2012, boasts 5,867 members on its forums. Silk Road, the center of great media attention, has 54,247 members while Black Market Reloaded, a quiet but strong success, has 4,495 members.
The culture of the place is somewhat similar to Silk Road. In fact, many of the customers seem to use both marketplaces.
Forum discussions touch on important topics such as sales, safety and scam reports. Transactions are handled in a distinctly simple way: instead of a programmed escrow system reminiscent of Silk Road, RAMP operates through emails. A customer can use the RAMP’s escrow (which takes 5% off the top for the site’s operators) by emailing the site’s owners or a customer has the option todeal with the vendor directly.
RAMP’s two owners are a couple of Russians named Darkside (who handles customer and vendor relations) and Orange (who handles design and the backend of the site).
ramp-passionRAMP makes much of its income through advertising. After a user buys a vendor account for 5 bitcoins (currently $150), they can purchase sticky topics for one month (3 BTC), two months (5 BTC) or 3 months (7 BTC). Banners on the top of the site costs 10 BTC per month. The user Passion is currently advertising the sale of fentanyl (seen to the right). 1 gram costs 1400 Rubles ($45).
Unlike Silk Road and Black Market Reloaded, several vendors accept payment in WebMoney (a Russian e-commerce company serving a number of currencies) in addition to Bitcoins. RAMP also has a thread dedicated to reviewing Silk Road vendors who can service Eastern Europe.
Some RAMP vendors have an awfully interesting way of delivering their product:
If you’re in the Moscow area, Passion will make a “drop” in an out of the way place (such as an abandoned building) within 24 hours of a purchase and send the customer the coordinates on Google Maps. It’s up to the customer to make the pick up. It’s a decidedly old school twist on the new online drug marketplace that comes with several obvious potential downfalls. On the bright side, the drop can save time if you’re in a fix: you can potentially get your drugs on the same day you place your order. Muscovites have all the luck!
Like every anonymous marketplace, RAMP is not without scammers and problems. In fact, the most viewed thread is about a Doctor Om, a Moscow-based vendor who offered hashish, amphetamines and other drugs. Om hasn’t delivered product to dozens of customers for several weeks now, prompting many to call him the site’s worst scammer. It’s unclear at this time just how much money was involved in the transactions but it’s safe to say thousands of dollars are at stake.
If RAMP is Russia’s smaller and stranger Silk Road, the Shop of Magic Products (seen below) seems to hope to take its own place as the region’s version of Black Market Reloaded, a quiet, well-run and relatively uninhibited market for vendors of many goods. The site has been around since at least October 2012 but has never been able to pick up much momentum. Today, it offers various forged documents as well as a handful of drugs but activity has slowed to a crawl and the website is subject to regular errors. Bro, the man behind SMP, has a lot of work ahead of him if he hopes to compete with RAMP for customers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013





Silk Road is the Amazon of the drug trade.


The top Australian seller on underground online drug marketplace Silk Road has gone rogue and made off with tens of thousands of dollars, while several other Australian sellers appear to be missing in action.
The exodus comes after 32-year-old Paul Howard was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail this month by a Melbourne judge after being caught using Silk Road to import a "smorgasbord" of drugs such as cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine, which he then sold.
Now Australian Silk Road user EnterTheMatrix, who received dozens of glowing reviews and more than 99 per cent positive feedback selling prescription medication, LSD, MDMA and other substances via express post, has disappeared, leaving behind scores of angry customers who have paid for but not received their items.

 Those who buy from Silk Road run the risk of Customs intercepting their package but many are happy to take that chance.

"The game's out there, and it's play or get played. That simple," EnterTheMatrix later wrote on their Silk Road vendor page, quoting TV series The Wire, before deleting their user account.
On the Silk Road forum the disappearance of several other Australian sellers has been noted, but EnterTheMatrix appears to be the most brazen as they were in the top 1 per cent of sellers and had recently offered significant discounts such as a "one day only" Valentine's Day sale in order to entice a stampede of buyers.
The consensus on the site appears to be that EnterTheMatrix was looking to cash out and disappear following increased attention from Australian law enforcement.
Silk Road users were in disbelief this week.
"One of the reasons it is so hard to understand why he would pull this scam is because he was making so much money anyway. His prices were high, his sales volume was high, too," wrote one.
Silk Road users have eBay-style feedback ratings, pay for goods using encrypted digital currency Bitcoins and access the site using the Tor network, making it very difficult for law enforcement to combat the trade.
Customs and the Australian Federal Police have had some success using the old-fashioned method of intercepting parcels once they reach the country (as in the case of Howard), but many packages go unchecked and suspicious ones that are picked up rarely have identifying features.
Customs says it seizes a "significant amount" of cocaine and MDMA in the mail that has been bought through Silk Road and claims its web is getting "tighter with every transaction".
Customs believes its efforts have resulted in "an increasing trend on Silk Road, whereby several "anonymous" dealers have announced on forums that they will no longer sell to Australians or have imposed more stringent transaction rules on Australian buyers."
"This demonstrates that Customs and Border Protection is actively disrupting this illegal trade in dangerous drugs."
Fairfax Media has seen posts on the Silk Road forum from last year where sellers refused to sell to Australians following many scam attempts by buyers, who claim not to have received packages.
It is not clear how much Customs and the AFP had to do with this.
Last year the AFP took action on several occasions against people who imported drugs through the postal system. In June Andrew Fennell was sentenced to two years and eight months imprisonment after police seized 533 pills sent to him through the post.
Dr Monica Barratt of the National Drug Research Institute, who is researching Silk Road, said recent developments may reduce the sense of trust Australian buyers have in the Silk Road site and its vendors.
"Nevertheless, while there is a demand for its products and there are vendors willing to sell, there will likely continue to be some Australian buyers willing to take the risk, whether that is on Silk Road or any other dark-web marketplace," she said.
Melbourne writer, journalist and blogger Eiley Ormsby, who has been closely following Silk Road for some time, said the EnterTheMatrix scam was similar to one pulled by Canadian heroin and amphetamine dealer Tony76 in April last year.
She suspects the Australian sellers who left the site did so after being spooked by Howard's prosecution.
"Howard was relatively small-time compared to a seller like EnterTheMatrix and it would not surprise me if the sentence was a wake-up call and they decided it was time to cut out," she said.
But University of Canberra adjunct associate professor Nigel Phair, a former Detective Superintendent with the AFP, said he believed there was "little law enforcement" attention being paid to Silk Road and it was generally easy to get away with buying and selling on the site.
Last year Carnegie Mellon professor Nicholas Christin estimated Silk Road was doing $22 million in annual revenue, and the site has been growing consistently as its notoriety has increased.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Unravelling the dark web

 Forget South American cartels and Russian arms dealers: the black market has moved online


 



 


On a chilly April morning in 2011, in the Dutch city of Lelystad, Marc Willems was sitting at home on his computer, surfing the web, when the police burst in and seized him. At that moment, more than 5,000 miles away at El Dorado airport in Bogotá, Colombia, migration officials and agents from America's Drug Enforcement Administration were arresting another man, Michael Evron, as he was attempting to board a flight to Buenos Aires. Within 24 hours, agents across America had rounded up six more men - in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.
By the end of the day, the US Department of Justice was hailing Operation "Adam Bomb" as the first of its kind. They released a 66-page court indictment, compiled over two years and listing numerous charges, but it boiled down to one thing: the men, they alleged, had been operating a website, the Farmer's Market, that acted as an online narcotics marketplace - an illicit eBay, if you like - where drug dealers could peddle their wares to customers in 34 countries. But the Farmer's Market wasn't your average website - for one, the address didn't work in a regular web browser. It belonged to the "dark web": a growing number of sites hidden from Google and the prying eyes of law-enforcement agencies, using anonymity technology. In a written statement, Briane M Grey, the acting special agent in charge of the operation, issued a warning: "Today's action should send a clear message to organisations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity, that the DEA and our law-enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice."



By the end of the day, the US Department of Justice was hailing Operation "Adam Bomb" as the first of its kind. They released a 66-page court indictment, compiled over two years and listing numerous charges, but it boiled down to one thing: the men, they alleged, had been operating a website, the Farmer's Market, that acted as an online narcotics marketplace - an illicit eBay, if you like - where drug dealers could peddle their wares to customers in 34 countries. But the Farmer's Market wasn't your average website - for one, the address didn't work in a regular web browser. It belonged to the "dark web": a growing number of sites hidden from Google and the prying eyes of law-enforcement agencies, using anonymity technology. In a written statement, Briane M Grey, the acting special agent in charge of the operation, issued a warning: "Today's action should send a clear message to organisations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity, that the DEA and our law-enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice."
Want to buy an M4A3 assault rifle, a forged UK passport or a few grams of crystal meth and have it delivered to your door? On the dark web you can
But on the dark web, the Farmer's Market wouldn't be missed. Despite the dozens of agents involved in Operation Adam Bomb, the site was small-time. Its competitors had long outgrown it. Worse, in the eyes of dark- web users, the Farmer's Market had made mistakes that allowed law enforcers to seize e-mails and payment details. The site had been around for years, they said. It hadn't been careful enough. Meanwhile, business on the online black market was booming.
Around the turn of the millennium, researchers at the US Naval Research Lab in Washington DC had a problem: how to protect military communications from eavesdroppers online. With help from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they developed a solution: a program known as Tor. This hides your identity online by encrypting transmissions and bouncing them between thousands of users around the world - from Birmingham to Beijing via Berlin and Baghdad, say. Anyone monitoring the communication would be incapable of discovering the location or identity of the sender.
In 2006, Tor became a nonprofit organisation and now attracts more than 500,000 users a day, from Arab Spring bloggers to Chinese dissidents. But Tor doesn't just hide individuals - it can also hide entire websites. Whereas a web page might be traced to a server farm or your office's IT department, a hidden site's location is buried in the network. The address operates only when accessed over Tor. You can set up a site from a hidden location, with an unlisted web address, and - so the theory goes - remain completely anonymous. Welcome to the dark web.


Want to buy an M4A3 assault rifle, a forged UK passport or a few grams of crystal meth and have it delivered to your door? On the dark web you can find it, on sites such as BlackMarket Reloaded, where AK47s are on sale alongside Afghan heroin, or CC Paradise, selling stolen credit-card data. You can even find dubious listings for contract killers (yours for £12,500, half up front). But the biggest digital black market-place of all is called Silk Road.
Silk Road - named after the ancient trade route between Asia and Europe - opened in February 2011. The site is similar to eBay or Amazon: users can sign up and buy and sell almost whatever they please. It has a rudimentary green-and-white design, but all the functionality you'd expect from a legal online marketplace: individual seller pages, buyer feedback, even an escrow system to protect against fraudulent vendors.

 Joining is simple and anonymous. The home page shows off the latest deals, with crude home-shot photos of the products, listed by category: drugs are broken up into classes like "prescription" and "opioids". All you need to do is place an order, send the delivery address to the seller (usually encrypted, so only the intended recipient can read it) and wait for your package to arrive. Silk Road takes a small percentage of the fee. The site quickly became a hit among drug dealers for selling everything from prescription painkillers to uncut cocaine. Soon word was circulating across the dark web. Then, on 1 June 2011, the gossip site Gawker published an article on Silk Road. The story went viral. Within days, two American senators had called for the site to be closed, describing it as "the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen".

" It was wild," said Adrian Chen, the Gawker staff writer who broke the story. "People were shocked to know that it's actually happening."
The media frenzy had unintended, if inevitable, consequences: visitors to the Silk Road soared. "I got e-mails from people asking how to get on," recalls Chen. New customers poured in through Tor. Soon you could buy an even wider variety of illicit goods, from credit-card skimmers to fire-arms. The growing presence of arms dealers on the site was a contentious issue. Those who were simply there to buy and sell drugs started complaining to Silk Road's anonymous administrators - some major dealers even threatened to quit the site. So Silk Road launched a dedicated version of the site for weaponry called the Armory, allowing gun sellers to advertise everything from Glock 19 handguns to plastic explosives. (A few months later, Silk Road closed the Armory - because it wasn't making enough profit. Clearly, it's harder to ship a shotgun in the mail than a few tabs of LSD.) Meanwhile, trade on Silk Road was roaring.
In spring 2012, Nicolas Christin, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon university's cyber-security research centre, monitored activity on Silk Road for six months and estimated sales on the marketplace of £14.2m a year. Not bad for an 18-month-old start-up. "The total volume of sales was increasing quite significantly," said Christin, on the phone from his office in Pittsburgh. "The number of active sellers almost doubled over six months. So it definitely was growing. The numbers are probably even higher now." In his paper, Christin also calculated sales on the Silk Road were earning the site's creators £1m a year. Somebody was making a lot of money from Silk Road. But who?
The founder of Silk Road calls himself "the Dread Pirate Roberts", a pseudonym taken from William Goldman's fantasy novel The Princess Bride. On the Silk Road forums, "DPR" is described as a "hero", "revolutionary" and "pro-viding a valuable public service". Soon after Gawker's exposé, the hunt for Roberts went global. In America, the DEA confirmed it was investigating the Silk Road. Last year the Australian Federal Police announced they were investigating the site, warning users that "anyone engaging in illegal activity through online marketplaces such as Silk Road... will not always remain anonymous". In Britain, the notoriously secretive Serious Organised Crime Agency told GQ that it is aware of the "so-called 'hidden' areas of the web" and that it has "the capability to investigate organised criminal groups seeking to exploit them". (Both SOCA and the Metropolitan Police have turned down Freedom of Information requests regarding any investigation into Silk Road, leading some to speculate that an investigation is ongoing.)
"Federal law-enforcement agencies are all looking at this kind of activity," an American government official told GQ. "Silk Road is hardly a secret. The folks that are involved with that know that they are a high-profile target."


 Two American senators described it as "the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen"

But, so far, the creator of the biggest black marketplace on the dark web remains elusive. Last autumn, GQ met Runa Sandvik, a London-based Tor developer who has studied the dark web. A petite Norwegian blonde, Sandvik has advised law-enforcement agencies investigating hidden sites. "It's privacy by design," she explained. "The same functionality that protects users in China or Iran from oppressive governments protects people using Silk Road. We work with the law-enforcement agencies to make sure they know how Tor works, what it can and cannot do, but we also make it very clear that we can't trace users ourselves. Configured correctly, there's nothing you can really do."
Asked if there was any way to shut down the site, Sandvik shrugged. "The Silk Road is a custom-built website, so you could hack it - but even if it were possible to take it down that way, legally you can't. In the UK, you'd be breaking the Computer Misuse Act."
Intrigued, GQ messaged Silk Road's administrator - the Dread Pirate Roberts himself - to ask whether he was worried about the law-enforcement agencies trying to track him down. Two days later, on returning to the site, there was a response on the glowing screen in dark letters: "No." Asked why, he simply wrote: "I have confidence in our security measures."


They say when you're trying to catch a criminal, follow the money - which led GQ to a blandly lit conference room at London's Royal National Hotel on a weekend last September, listening to cryptographers and laptop economists talk about a currency that doesn't really exist. Bitcoin is a digital currency established in 2009 by another pseudonymous founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency exists only online and transactions are encrypted, so that users can be anonymous. Rather than using named bank accounts, amounts are transferred between web-like addresses called "wallets". Coins can be traded for real-world currency at online exchanges. While the exchange rate has fluctuated wildly, at the time of writing one coin is worth about £7.50, valuing the total number of Bitcoins in circulation at around £75m.
"It's designed to provide people with privacy," Mike Hearn, a British-born Bitcoin developer, said between talks at the second annual Bitcoin Conference. "You don't have to provide an identity simply to use the system, you can just get started. But the underlying purpose behind this is not to allow people to buy drugs, or terrorist financing. I see it as a tremendous way to open up innovation in payments." Due to the anonymity it provides, Bitcoin has been embraced by the online black market. Transactions on the Silk Road are conducted exclusively in Bitcoin, and Roberts' association with the currency seems inescapable. "[Previously] you could get anonymity on the network, but there was still this issue with payment," explained Christin. "There wasn't a way of guaranteeing anonymity at all levels before. [With Bitcoin] there is, now. It's not perfect security - but people are confident they're not going to get caught. I think this was the piece of the puzzle that was missing."
In May 2012, an FBI report on the currency leaked online. "Since Bitcoin does not have a centralised authority, law enforcement faces difficulties detecting suspicious activity, identifying users and obtaining transaction records," it read. More damningly, it revealed the FBI had only "medium confidence" it could "in some cases" identify criminals using Bitcoin on the black market.
Despite this, some think Bitcoin could be the answer to finding the founders of Silk Road. Transactions between "wallets" are all visible in a public log called the block chain. Even if you can't know a user's name, you could watch the movement of money across the network - and whoever is running Silk Road must be receiving a lot of Bitcoins. This theory led to the growth of a small group of experts trying to trace the flow of money into Silk Road, to see if it leads to Roberts'. For months, there was nothing. Then, last summer, a user by the name "Arkanos" on BitcoinTalk - a forum for enthusiasts - stumbled across a wallet containing more than 500,000 Bitcoins. At the time, the exchange rate was around £5 per coin, valuing the contents at more than £2.5m. Someone was hoarding one of the largest sums of the digital currency ever discovered. Not only that, Arkanos claimed that he had traced money paid into the large account from Silk Road. Then he disappeared without a trace.


 


Soon, a handful of the Bitcoin community got to work: following money paid into Silk Road and analysing the block chain to see if it turned up in the wallet. Though not conclusive, the evidence pointed to one thing: whoever owned the wallet was almost certainly involved in Silk Road. Further evidence suggested a link between the account and Bitcoin Savings & Trust, an investment fund (and widely suspected ponzi scheme) promising users up to seven per cent weekly interest on deposits. But there was more: the founder of the fund called himself Pirateat40.

The link seemed too good to be true. Could the Dread Pirate Roberts and Pirateat40 be one and the same? What if Bitcoin Savings & Trust was accepting "clean" deposits and paying back investors with Silk Road profits - paying seven per cent to launder digital drug money? But as users tried to gather more proof, the investigation hit a wall. Even if the account really belonged to Roberts, thanks to Bitcoin there was still no way of discovering his real identity unless he cashed out into a real-world currency at an exchange. Then, in August, without fanfare, the 500,000 Bitcoins disappeared.
"Now that there is stronger evidence it was [related to Silk Road], the wallet is empty and funds that were in it have been laundered somewhere else," Christin told GQ in an e-mail. "Who knows... There is no absolute smoking gun."
Dread Pirate Roberts remains anonymous. "A year after an American senator came out and said Silk Road needs to be shut down, it's bigger than ever," said Gawker's Adrian Chen. "It's hard to believe technology could allow people to completely flaunt the law like that."


That does not mean the hunt is over. "Traditional law-enforcement methods still apply," said Sandvik. "Writing-style analysis, looking at how people behave - when they post, when the site is available." Such analysis has already shed some light on Roberts. For example, he's not working alone. Roberts' posts occasionally refer to "we" and "our" - as he did when I messaged him - and Silk Road has posted a job opening for a database expert. His use of American spelling and the timing of his posts - rarely late at night on the East Coast - could suggest that Roberts is based in America. It's also unlikely that they're moving. "The Silk Road database is probably huge," Sandvik explained. "If he starts moving stuff, there will be a lot of red flags." As for whether they'll ever find him... "I imagine that maybe one day they'll pick up some guy for some other drug-related crime, search his house and just happen to stumble upon the server."
Meanwhile, the dark web is growing. Tools like Tor, combined with Bitcoin, have transformed the black market in the same way the web has for regular businesses: from traditional top-down supply chains to a vast peer-to-peer network of anonymous individuals. "It's not just one site - there's a whole hidden economy fuelling all sorts of illegal activity," said John Lyons, CEO of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance and former co-ordinator of the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. "It's a huge issue and one I've raised many times at government level... There are measures we can take. The Government could work with regimes around the world who might be capable of taking these sites down without infringing their own laws. It could legislate against these alternative-payment mechanisms; kill the transactions and you kill the business. But, at the moment, there's no cohesive strategy."
At the time of writing, the Silk Road remains open for business. As for the Dread Pirate Roberts, he recently posted a message to his customers. "I've never had so much fun. I know we've been at it for over a year now, but really, we are just getting started." He signed off with a yellow smiley face, grinning ear to ear.


 

 

 

Monday, February 18, 2013

[Tutorial] How to join DarkNet Markets ??

video

How To join  the DarkNet Markets ?
-- Deutsche Anleitung weiter unten -- german translation down below--

1.Download Tor Vidalia Bundle here:
https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en

2.Install TOR

3. Open TOR and go to this NEW "Invite" adresses:

A. AGORA Market invite url:
http://agorahooawayyfoe.onion/register/Yv9ARhzgJ1

B. Mr. Nice Guy Market invite url (buyers only): 
http://niceguyfa3xkuuoq.onion/session/register/D6AC1A

C. Dream Market Marketplace invite url:
 http://lchudifyeqm4ldjj.onion/?ai=48853

D. ABRAXAS Marketplace invite url:
http://abraxasdegupusel.onion/register/WBLbLmhFcS

E. AlphaBay Market invite url:
http://pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion/affiliate.php?aff=41226

4.Go to "Register" and create account

5.To buy something in any DarkNet Market you need Bitcoins, so go to any shop in your region and exchange money into Bitcoins,for example here: https://www.bitcoin.de/de/r/a94hf7

7.Before you buy any item read the Buyer's Guide.

8.If you want to be "100% Safe" you have to encrypt your delivery adress with PGP Encryption
PGP Download: http://www.gpg4win.org/index.html
Very Good Silk Road Guide: http://www.gwern.net/Silk%20Road
--------------------------------------------------------------------

To order from the DarkNet is 100% SAFE because
the system of Silk Road exists of these 3 components:
1. TOR ( anonymous browser)
2. Bitcoin (Anonymous method to payment)
3. PGP (Program to encode delivery adress)
-------------------------------------------------------------------


More Information:
Silk Road Buyer´s Guide´s:
http://mainstreamlos.blogspot.com/
https://vimeo.com/groups/silkroad/albums/4997
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxmyQiO_GYYlTHZ6-2dZETg
http://feeds.feedburner.com/SilkRoadAnonymousMarketplace
https://www.facebook.com/agorablackmarket?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/DarkNetMarket


PGP Encryption Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Good_Privacy

PGP Download: http://www.gpg4win.org/index.html
Hidden Wiki & Black Market & Silk Road Wiki (all links require TOR):
Hidden Wiki: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/Main_Page


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Deutsche Anleitung - Wie gelangt man auf DarkNet Märkte (AGORA,Dream Market,Mr Nice Guy,ABRAXAS,AlphaBay  ...) ?


Um auf irgend einen DarkNet Markt zu kommen braucht Ihr ein spezielles Programm (TOR), damit Ihr unerkannt auf die Seite kommt und anonym bestellen könnt, ohne das es sich zurückverfolgen lässt.

So gelangt Ihr auf DarkNet Märkte:

1. Tor Vidalia Bundle Download hier:
http://www.chip.de/downloads/Tor-Vidalia-Bundle_19408583.html
oder hier:
https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en

2.Installiere TOR

3.Öffne TOR und gehe zu dieser Adresse:
A. AGORA Market invite url:
http://agorahooawayyfoe.onion/register/Yv9ARhzgJ1

B. Mr. Nice Guy Market invite url (buyers only): 
http://niceguyfa3xkuuoq.onion/session/register/D6AC1A

C. Dream Market Marketplace invite url:
http://lchudifyeqm4ldjj.onion/?ai=48853

D. ABRAXAS Marketplace invite url:
http://abraxasdegupusel.onion/register/WBLbLmhFcS

E. AlphaBay Market invite url:
http://pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion/affiliate.php?aff=41226

Für mehr Märkte besucht mein Blog (45 gibt es momentan.Die 5 sind momentan die größten)

4.Gehe auf "Register" und eröffne einen Account Deiner Wahl

5.Um etwas zu kaufen braucht man Bitcoins (virtuelle Internet Währung).Es gibt mehrere Anbieter, einer ist der hier: https://www.bitcoin.de/de/r/a94hf7

6.Bevor Du zum ersten mal etwas kaufst, lese Dir genau die Richtlinien des jeweiligen Marktes durch:

7.Um noch mehr Sicherheit zu erhalten sollte man seine Lieferadresse zusätzlich noch verschlüsseln mittels PGP
PGP Download (GnuPG) hier: http://www.gpg4win.org/index-de.html

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Im DarkNet zu bestellen ist zu 100% sicher da es keine Möglichkeit gibt zurückverfolgt zu werden.
Das System besteht aus diesen 3 Komponenten:
1.TOR (anonymer Browser der die Herkunft verschleiert)
2.Bitcoin (Anonyme Methode um zu Bezahlen,lässt sich nicht zurückverfogen)
3.PGP (Progaramm um die Lieferadresse zu verschlüsseln)
-------------------------------------------------------------------


Hidden Wiki & Black Market Reloaded & Silk Road Wiki (diese Links benötigen TOR):
Hidden Wiki:  http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/Main_Page

Mehr Info:
http://mainstreamlos.blogspot.de/
http://mainstreamlos.tumblr.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxmyQiO_GYYlTHZ6-2dZETg
https://twitter.com/DarkNetMarket
http://feeds.feedburner.com/SilkRoadAnonymousMarketplace
https://vimeo.com/groups/silkroad/albums/4997
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road_%28marketplace%29

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Silk Road is down for maintenance

The Silk Road is down for maintenance. We will get the site back up asap. Thank you for your patience. More info here (requires TOR): http://dkn255hz262ypmii.onion/index.php?topic=120741.0

 Silk Road is open again ...  Happy shopping

 UPDATE (02/15/2013 1451 UTC): Always takes longer than you think. Revised estimate reopening time 1700 UTC

UPDATE (02/15/2013 1357 UTC): Revised estimate: 1500 UTC.

UPDATE (02/15/2013 0826 UTC): Estimated reopening time is 1400 UTC.

UPDATE (02/15/2013 0446 UTC):  We've identified and corrected the bug.  We're going to do a conditional rollback, so we'll only be undoing what was done with the extra deposited funds, all other activity will be unaffected.  The only thing that might  happen is if a vendor shipped a product that was bought with money that is being rolled back, but they didn't mark it as in-transit yet.  I'll let the vendors know what to do if this situation arises once we get everything corrected.  This is going to take a little longer than a hard rollback, but it will leave most users unaffected instead of affecting everyone.  Thanks for your patience, you are being very generous with it :)


A bug was accidentally introduced into the deposit processor today that caused many people's accounts to be credited over and over for a single deposit.  We are assessing the situation and will be rolling back the error.  I will post updates in this thread.  Vendors should not ship any orders until the site reopens.  Some orders may be canceled.

^^Original statement  DPR

Friday, February 08, 2013

How To join the "Silk Road Anonymous Marketplace" to get drugs.


1.Download Tor Vidalia Bundle here:
https://www.torproject.org/download/d...

2.Install TOR

3. Open TOR and go to this NEW "Silk Road" adress:
http://silkroadvb5piz3r.onion/index.p...
Down below of the empty login field just press on the green words "click here to join". Than you come to the registration site.

4.Go to "Register" and create account

5.To buy something at Silk Road you neet Bitcoins, so go to any shop in your region and exchange money into Bitcoins,for example here: https://mtgox.com/

7.Before you buy any item read the Silk Road Buyer's Guide.
Buyer´s Guide Silk Road Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note...

8.If you want to be "100% Safe" you have to encrypt your delivery adress with PGP Encryption
PGP Download: http://www.gpg4win.org/index.html
How to use PGP Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SywCI9...
Very Good Silk Road Guide: http://www.gwern.net/Silk%20Road


To order from Silk Road is 100% SAFE because
the system of Silk Road exists of these 3 components:
1. TOR ( anonymous browser)
2. Bitcoin (Anonymous method to payment)
3. PGP (Program to encode delivery adress)