Buying drugs online has evolved from niche activity for the avante-garde tech-savvy individual to commonplace as it presents a convenient way for users to get what they need and want. The dark web has created a safer environment compared to meeting up with a bloke backed up by goons of bodyguards, and Silkroad rose up to be the best-known platform for illicit drugs soon after its launch in 2011 as the very first modern darknet market.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
As well as drugs, a host of other illegal products, wares and services were for sale at Silkroad, including fake passports, fake drivers’ licenses,hacking techniques, and digital goods such as pirated content. Despite harboring freedom for a good cause that rightfully serves Tor users with their privacy and security in mind, for these blatant reasons, the Silkroad was brought down- and it was no easy task.
After two and a half years in operation, the Silkroad servers were seized, the creator Dread Pirate Roberts has been unmasked, whilst both vendors and customers’ private accounts have been exposed to government scrutiny. This was not without the risks of dealing with America’s high-profile cybercriminals and trying to beat them in their own game, just like how they handled the Silkroad operators. The case was closed by no other than the FBI’s cyber-crime unit, a team who has managed to unwrap the tricky layers of The Onion Router and penetrated the Silkroad hideout.
Former FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell previously stated that Silkroad was the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace during that time. He’s only one among top cybersecurity talents who have all found their way to greener pastures at the Berkeley Research Group (BRG).
In February, BRG proudly announced the new gang lineup off the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts and 2013’s Silkroad key investigators: Matthew Edman, former Tor developer and part of FBI Remote Operations Unit; Thomas Brown, former federal prosecutor named BRG’s Global Leader as director of cybersecurity and investigations; computer scientist Thomas Kiernan and digital extraction technician Ilhwan Yum as associate directors.
The significant names each played a crucial role in investigations aside from Silkroad, and prosecutions of groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec, while some worked with infamous hacktivist turned federal informant Hector Monsegur. Alongside Silkroad, they investigated a NASDAQ Russian hack, the $6 billion money-laundering case against Liberty Reserve’s cryptocurrency, the hacks of Citibank, PNC Bank, Rove Digital botnet, and Samarth Agrawal’s prosecution.
No doubt, their expertise and extensive experience beyond Silkroad on national security matters and intelligence agencies make each expert for hire invaluable to BRG. The titan consulting firm’s founder Dr. David Teece refers to Tom and his group as not in any way run-of-the-mill cybersecurity consultants, rather a veteran team that’s undeniably of incredible value to their clients across the board. Brown expresses that their strength lies in their experience, which does not only apply to critical cybersecurity issues and crises like the Silkroad case, but in their ability to work together which gives them confidence that will lead to top-notch results for their clients.
The Growth of the Private Industry
Indeed, the former FBI team that led to the Silkroad bust is highly valuable to federal law enforcement agencies, only the government is unable to keep up with salary perks the private industry can generously give. BRG clients include Bank of America, General Electric, and U.S. Steel, among many of the world’s biggest industries and wealthiest companies like the multi-billion-dollar tobacco giant Philip Morris which Teece successfully defended. The firm brings in annual revenue amounting to tens of millions of dollars.
Thomas Galati, NYPD intelligence chief, told Congress that the private industry provides a lot of opportunity which attracts the best people out there. James Comey, FBI Director, admits to the continual challenge of the Bureau when it comes to retaining good cybersecurity talent like the guys who went off the charts in the shutdown of the Silkroad dark web site.
The private industry of cybersecurity is expected to grow to more than $170 billion by the year 2020. To top it off, extending from the scope of the private sector is Hollywood’s 21st Century Fox offering high-paying deals for being exclusive sources for the studio’s book, feature articles, and highly anticipated movie based on the Silkroad case.