Jun 08

Silk Road Fall – Will It Also Leads To Other Site’s Demise?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Screen-Shot-2013-10-02-at-8.33.10-PM1Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind of Silk Road black market, has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole by a Manhattan federal court for creating the anonymous online illegal marketplace. He was labeled a criminal profiteer and a drug dealer and the government was unequivocal in saying that “a message should be sent out clearly that no individual is above the law.”

Silk Road allowed users to carry out illegal business anonymously by use of a mix of sophisticated privacy technologies to hide the identity of users from the law enforcement. Just like other black market sites, Bitcoin was being used to carry out all the transactions due to the pseudonymity it affords.

FBI insisted that Dread Pirate Roberts made mistakes that enabled detectives to discover his location and identity. The subsequent black markets were also brought down through similar errors. However, the explanations and evidence given by the investigators in court were not sufficiently convincing. This lead to speculations that the investigators used malware or enlisted NSA to assist track down the site together with its users within Tor.

It’s well known that users of Tor are vulnerable at the point where traffic enters and exits the Tor software. But, it is believed that it’s quite impossible to track its users within the network. However, if there is a good basis to the idea that detectives enlisted the assistance of NSA or used malware to bring down the site, it may be possible to uncover the real IP addresses of the Tor network users.

This would stop any chances of new black markets and would also inevitably lead to demise and prosecution of several other illegal sites that operates within the dark web. But, on the other hand, the lack of action by authorities suggests that this may not be the case.

Screen-Shot-2014-11-06-at-11.49.23-AMWhile the Silk Road and most of its immediate successors are gone, suggestion that the technology supporting these sites is flawed is based on speculation that NSA or the FBI have cracked them. If claims by the FBI that Blake Benthall, the mastermind of Silk Road 2.0 and Ulbricht were arrested due to their mistakes are sincere, then it is still possible for similar sites to escape demise in future.

Apr 17

Alleged Silk Road 2.0 Operator Got Engaged

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silkroad 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Blake Benthall or “Defcon”Congratulations are in order for Blake Benthall or “Defcon” as he was popularly known on Silk Road, he recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Stephie McKay, and the two are apparently planning to marry soon. They seemingly got engaged as of February 2015.

After being busted by undercover agents and admitting to his involvement in the Silk Road 2.0 saga, his legal status still remains unclear though he was reportedly working towards securing a deal with the prosecution.

If at all Benthall is found guilty of the Silk Road charges labeled against him and locked away, then the least a judge can give him in terms of prisoner privileges is regular conjugal visits from the wife. That way he’ll get to enjoy his marriage albeit the prison sentence handed over to him.

Alleged Silk Road 2.0 Operator Got EngagedIn November 2014, Blake Benthall was arrested for allegedly running Silk Road 2.0, an illicit drug marketplace on the darknet best known for dealing illicit drugs. It was a black market site where users can trade illicit items and services anonymously. Silkroad 2.0 was accessible through an anonymizing Tor browser and used bitcoins in transactions. Blake Benthall was arrested in San Francisco and faced charges which includes money laundering, conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking, and computer hacking, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in  prison. It was alleged that the darknet site, Silkroad 2.0, was generating $8 million per month and had about 150,000 active users as of September 2014.

Nov 24

Charged Silk Road 2.0 Mastermind Seems To Be Sending Tweets From His Jail Cell

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

SilkRoadDudeThe Silk Road 2.0 mastermind, Blake Benthall, denied responsibility of the tweets coming from his account. He had been arrested in San Francisco but plans are underway to move him to New York where the case will be handled. Blake Benthall is a computer genius and a known church goer by day. He had made over $8 million in a month on transactions alone through the Silk Road website according to the feds. The post recently reported 0.1244 Bitcoins being raised on an account that was posted on Blake’s Twitter feed with the message, ‘Donate Bitcoin’. There have been several jeer from the social media but few people have contributed an approximate of $50. However, Benthall has denied responsibility and claims his account was hacked.

2014-11-06-image-10According to his lawyer Jean-Jacques Cabou, Benthall remains in prison and cannot be tweeting from jail. He claims no family member or friends authorized the tweet or requested it. He says they had taken proper measures days ago to report the account had been compromised and any tweets coming out are unauthorized. They even don’t know the owner of the Bitcoin address that was posted together with the tweet. Claims of soliciting for money from people can put Benthall in more trouble but it still remains a mystery that sent the tweet. Hacking of accounts in twitter is not a new thing with several cases having taken place.

Benthall is alleged to have helped in the revival of the Silk Road 2.0 after the original Silkroad was shut down in 2013. How the feds managed to track down Benthall is unclear since the Tor program meant to protect user identity has never been cracked. People have even created several theories on the de-cloaking of Silk Road 2.0. It is hard to tell if Benthall sent the tweets since he still remains in jail. He might be a victim of hacking but we have to wait and see how his case goes.

Nov 19

Deepnet Experts Look For Clues On How Dark Net Sites Were Uncovered

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

Tor-users-IP-address-can-be-identified-with-routersThe anonymity that Tor brings had made it very popular with criminals who used it effectively to conduct their businesses online. Tor was a program created to create anonymity to sites online. Tor routes a person surfing in the internet through several computers making the location of sites hidden. Criminal elements have used it effectively with Silk Road been one major site. This was used by drug dealers to transact their drug businesses and avoid the face to face transactions that usually led to gun fights. However, there has been seizure of several high profile sites in the past week. There have also been 17 arrests associated with the sites leading people to wonder how the sites were uncovered.

tor-networkDeepnet experts are looking for clues to uncover how the law enforcement agencies were able to decloak these hidden sites. This was even a surprise to the Tor project team. This for now remains hidden and people have to wait for explanation in court where we hope the prosecutors will explain how the people became suspects. However, views from experts claim Tor has not been cracked yet. Dr. Steven Murdoch from the University College in London claims there are still several high profile hidden markets in operation. If they had cracked Tor, they probably could have seized all the hidden markets.

The shutdown of these hidden services was named ‘Operation Onymous’ and closed down 400 pages that were owned by 27 people. Most of these sites engaged in the sale of drugs, stolen credit cards and some illegal paraphernalia. The most high-profile closure was the Silk Road 2.0website majored in selling drugs after the shutdown of the original Silk Road last year.

Possible clues on how the dark net sites were uncovered

Poor operational security

This is one major failing in running websites where owners fail in minor security details. On the Silk Road 2.0 case, it was noted that the use of email address in the site led to the owner been identified. The email address code on the email led officers to Blake Benthall who was running the site.

Bugs in web applications

Elements with a page hidden by Tor can be vulnerable to exploits and bugs. This is just like in the open internet where we have interactive features and video players which could have been quickly coded.

Bitcoin ‘deanonymization’

All those operating illegal sites must have a way through which people can pay for the services or goods offered. Bitcoin is usually the virtual currency that such people use to receive payments. The use of normal payment is much easier to trace than Bitcoins but this does not mean Bitcoin is fully safe. It does not remain anonymous with some recent research showing ways through which Bitcoins can be linked to the user’s location

Denial of service attack (DoS)

This is very theoretical but there are chances that authorities could have used it. In this method, a site is flooded with several visits with the aim of forcing traffic to get into Tor owned computers which are usually monitored by the authorities.

It will always be difficult to know how exactly the authorities were able to decloak these sites and it is very unlikely that they will share the information. This is because they could want to use it again to arrest further criminal elements using hidden sites like the emergence of Silk Road 3.0.

Nov 17

Accused Silk Road 2.0 Admin Worked As Contract Software Developer For Former Googler’s Secret Startup

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

blake_is_blakeBlake Benthall who was arrested for allegedly running the Silk Road 2.0, an illegal online narcotics bazaar, was a contract software developer at Close. There isn’t much known about Close but the company’s CEO, Falson Fatemi describes it as stealth start-up founded by ex-Googlers and supported by New Enterprise Associates, Felicis Ventures and notable personalities like Dave McClure and Mark Cuban among others. Based on the CEO’s descriptions, Close it seems, is seeking to develop software plug-in that helps people make the most of their social network connections.

alleged-silk-road-2-0-owner-arrested-in-san-francisco-v1Close came to light after Benthall’s arrest. The company makes a brief but dramatic appearance in the Silk Road 2.0 charging documents. These documents state that he hosted his alleged dark web drug bazaar’s server on one of the subdomains of an Internet address belonging to Close. The documents further reveal that this address was being used by Close up till November 6, 2014. Federal investigators managed to snag this server sometime in May 2014 and where able to identify its physical location in a data center outside the US. Federal investigators got their hands on it anyway, took the computer offline and copied its contents to aid them in forensic investigations.

It is during this brief take-over that the site’s administrator ‘Defcon’ who federal agents allege is Benthall, went into a brief panic attack. It is said that his internet service provider put out several messages warning of the Silk Road 2.0 server’s offline status. The documents allege that ‘Defcon’ instructed the internet service provider not to reboot srv2.close.co server as there were critical processes that needed to be watched. Benthall’s former colleagues at Close including the CEO however seem not to be aware that the Silk Road 2.0 server was running on the company’s Close.co domain. The CEO responded on Twitter saying she could not believe the allegations. She further said she had worked with Blake in the past and to her, these allegations seemed out of character.

Nov 14

SILK ROAD 2.0 And Other Black Market Sites Were Shut Down As Part Of Operation Onymous

If you want to visit Silkroad 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

2014-11-07-image-16Judicial agencies and law enforcement around the world undertook a joint action against Silkroad 2.0 and other black market sites running as hidden services on the Tor network. Sixteen European countries (United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Romania, Germany, France, Latvia, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland), alongside counterparts from the U.S, brought down several darknet marketplaces as part of an integrated international action called Operation Onymous, from the operational coordination center of Europol that is located in the Hague. The international action aimed to put an end to the sale, promotion and distribution of harmful and illegal items, including drugs and weapons, which were being sold on the online black markets.

Laptop-computer-with-crime-scene-tape-across-it-via-shutterstock-800x430Operation Onymous was coordinated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Europol’s European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3), Eurojust and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and it resulted in 17 arrests of administrators and vendors running these online marketplaces and seizure of 414 dark web domains. All of the darknet marketplaces in question were accessible through the Tor network, which according to those who took part in the investigation was compromised by means of an as yet undisclosed mechanism or tool. Additionally, bitcoins worth approximately USD 1 million, EUR 180,000 euro in cash, drugs, silver and gold were seized. Silkroad 2.0 was taken down and its alleged operator, 26-year-old Blake Benthall was arrested.

The alleged operator of Silkroad 2.0 was arrested due to what seem to be a series of obvious mistakes he made including, failing to mask his IP address when contacting the Silkroad 2.0 service providers and using an e-mail address (blake@benthall.net) that included his name to register the Silkroad 2.0 servers. He also tweeted references to the Silkroad and to making bitcoin payments. He has been charged in court and if he’s convicted, he faces life in prison on drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges.

Operation Onymous is the second major operation that has been carried out against online darknet marketplaces. The first Silkroad, which had been launched in 2011, was shut down in October of 2013, and its alleged operator Ross Ulbricht was arrested. Silkroad 2.0 was launched a month later, and Blake Benthall is supposedly to have taken over the running of Silkroad in December of 2013.

It isn’t clear whether the operators of the other online darknet marketplaces that were shut down in the raid have been arrested, and if so, where their operations were located, but law enforcement is calling its action a clear victory.

Nov 11

Federal Agents Arrest Alleged Operator Of Silk Road 2.0

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

silk-road-two-shut-down-mike-power-203-body-image-1415379630The Federal Bureau of Investigations on November 6, 2014 announced the arrest of Blake Benthall who it claimed is also known as ‘Defcon’ for allegedly owning and operating the Silk Road 2.0 website. Silkroad 2.0 was a hidden website that allowed users to buy or sell illegal drugs as well as many other forbidden goods and services without being detected by the authorities. Mr. Benthall was arrested in San Francisco and charged with conspiracy to traffic in illicit drugs, money laundering and computer hacking among other crimes. The Silk Road 2.0 had about 150,000 users who transacted about $8 million worth of drugs and contrabands each month.

silk-road-head-640x353According to the FBI, an undercover agent of the Homeland Security Investigations managed to infiltrate the website’s support staff. The agent as a result gained access to the website’s private sections and even communicated with ‘Defcon’ on a regular basis. The bureau has been investigating Silk Road 2.0 since it popped up late 2013 to replace the original website that was also taken down by the US authorities. The said undercover agent had been instrumental in running Silk Road 2.0 acting as one of its central organizing figures right from the beginning when the site came alive.

The Silkroad 2.0 website made basic operational security mistakes. It is alleged that Blake used his personal email address, blake@benthall.net, to register the servers that run the illegal drugs website. As a result of these breaches, the US government agents were able to identify the physical location of the computers that run the website. This discovery was made in May 2014 after which the government agents continued to monitor everything that happened in the website. The agents were also able to locate the foreign server that hosted the website despite it being masked by a Tor network. The records obtained from the server’s hosting provider identified Mr. Benthall as the administrator of the Silk Road 2.0.

The arrest of Mr. Benthall greatly mirrors that of Mr. Ross Ulbricht, the alleged mastermind of the original Silkroad website. Mr. Ulbricht, who is alleged to be ‘Dead Pirate Roberts’, allegedly operated a criminal enterprise that is very similar to the Silk Road 2.0 in many fronts. Like the predecessor, the Silk Road 2.0 used the tor network to mask its illegal dealings that mainly involved sale of illegal goods and services. The hottest items on sale in the website included illicit drugs like psychedelics, cannabis, ecstasy and opioids. The website had more than 13,000 listings just before it was brought down. The authorities also allege that Mr. Benthall used the moniker, ‘Dead pirate Roberts’ when he first launched the site before allegedly switching to the pseudonym, ‘Defcon’. And like Mr. Ulbricht, Mr. Benthall was also arrested in San Francisco.

Mr. Benthall’s arrest as well as the Silk Road 2.0’s takedown comes in the wake of a worldwide swoop on ‘dark net’ sites. Some 16 masterminds of such sites have been arrested in an exercise that also took down more than 400 ‘dark net’ websites and servers. These efforts are expected to continue so as to arrest even more perpetrators in a bid to rid the Internet of illicit trade and contrabands. The entire exercise is estimated to have affected some 18 countries netting digital currency worth over $1 million, over $250,000 in cash as well as silver, gold and narcotics.

Nov 06

Silk Road 2.0 BUSTED!

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that the owner was arrested and it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0 but is just not as famous.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

Silk Road Seizure Screen

Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, is being charged with a ton of charges including conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, money laundering, conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking and conspiring to commit computer hacking. With these charges, he could face a life sentence, which will be very tough for this 26 year old tech whiz.

Silk Road 2.0 has been operating since just after the closure of the original Silk Road back in October 2013. After the closure of the original Silk Road a swarm of new black market websites sprung up including the Silk Road 2.0, some of the other biggest markets are Agora Marketplace and Evolution Marketplace with Agora Marketplace offering the best feedback and also posting more listing than Silk Road 2.0.

Even though Silk Road 2.0 has been shut down there are tons of other black market websites that do exactly the same thing, this is just one fish in an ocean. By making this bust, law enforcement look like they have had a win to the public but I think it will not even make a dent in the new way of black markets. There will probably be a Silk Road 3.0 within weeks just like there was a Silk Road 2.0 within weeks of the original Silk Road being shut down.

I know that Law Enforcement cannot simply look the other way and do nothing about these black market websites, mainly due to all of the pressure from above about their “War on drugs” that has done nothing but fail, but they may need to soon ask themselves some questions that Law Enforcement probably don’t want to answer.

40-years-of-the-war-on-drugs

“What happens if they did shut down all of the black market websites and those drug deals all went back to the streets?”

“Is it safer for those deals to be done over the internet and via the post or in a dark alley or ghetto and running the risk of being assaulted or killed over a substance abuse problem?”

The real way forward should be to thing about treating the problem as a health issue and not a criminal one. If you treat the addiction and take away the demand, or at least drastically reduce it, then there will not be the problem we have today. Can you imagine if they spent all of the money they do today on the “War on drugs” and spent it on treatment?

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

pharma

Aug 06

The Rising Sence Of A Community Among Online Dark Markets

>> Click here to find the Silk Road URL and know how to get to the Silk Road 2.0 <<

silk-road-2.0_001Internet is one of the most reliable sources of information in the world today. Hundreds if not thousands of people from all across the globe use it to purchase products and services from various online stores.

Over the last one year, there has been a rampant increase in number of people using Silk Road, a dark web, to purchase goods such as drugs. The most plausible reason for this trend is because this site is gaining credibility and trust from the online community.

Simply put, Silk Road is the leading dark online marketplace that you can visit and anonymously purchase drugs at any time. Its reputation and clean track record is clear proof that it deliver on their promises.

Let us look at some factors that fuel growth of this community.

Professionalism: 

Despite the fact that this web is considered dark by the society, the truth of the matter is that they its run by professionals who are very committed and determine to ensure that they meet their clients’ needs amicably. They have also put in place working protocols that help them maintain high professionalism and diligence levels.

Confidentiality: 

Gone are the days when one had to walk into a dark alley to purchase drugs. This dark web enables users from all across the globe to purchase a wide array of products without revealing their true identity and location. They have a concrete privacy policy hence you can rest assured that any information you submit is in safe hands.

agora-market-url-006

Transparency:

To promote their credibility and reputation in the community, this online marketplacehas put in place its own payment processing systems that are 100% secure so chances of fraud are nil. The systems are also monitored 24/7 by experts who have the skills and experience required to lock out any unauthorized access.

Finally, Silk Road offers quality products at an affordable price. They have also established shipping procedures that enables them to transport purchased goods to their customers.

silk_road00

>> Click here to find the Silk Road URL and know how to get to the Silk Road 2.0 <<

Jul 04

US Government To Auction Off $18m Worth Of Bitcoins

>> Click here to find the Silkroad URL and know how to get to the Silk Road 2.0 <<

The US government has categorically stated that they are going to auction the Silk Road bitcoins that were seized in connection with civil forfeiture band criminal actions against Ulbricht in the Southern District of New York.

Silkroad Bitcoin

In a press release, the US Marshalls have indicated that the auction will take place during a 12 hour period on 27the of June 2014 and bids are now being accepted by emails from registered bidders. Those who want to bid for the bitcoins are already downloading the auction forms from the US Marshall’s official website in readiness for what will definitely be a big day in the United States.

The big question however remains whether the government is right to action the Silk Road bitcoins now that no conviction has been done yet. Those Silk Road bitcoins have already been ordered forfeited by the United States and Ulbricht charged with narcotic trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking. The most worrying part is that Ulbricht has not been convicted or found guilty of all these crimes at the moment yet the Marshalls are already preparing to go ahead with the auction.

Even though the US Government claims to have concrete evidence against the suspects, a problem is bound to arise should the courts rule in favor of the accused. In such a circumstance, the action by the government to auction the bitcoins before conviction will bring up several issues. It will seem as if the government had already convicted the accused even before the court’s verdict.

Silk-Road-bitcoin

This move to auction those Silk Road bitcoins is therefore purely a premature one. The US government advisors should have advised the government to wait for the court ruling on the matter before embarking the auction. This auction is set to be carried out on June 27 and a lot of issue s will for sure arise even after the auction should the accused be found innocent.

>> Click here to find the Silkroad URL and know how to get to the Silk Road 2.0 <<