It’s been 4 months since Silk Road 2.0 was released. Can we assume it is now safe to shop? The original incarnation of the Silk Road died with the arrest of Dread Pirates Roberts (DPR). But dark web visitors rejoiced when Silk Road 2.0 came to life after a little over a month of being off-line. Unfortunately, less than two months passed before more arrests were made. The current DPR has been noticeably silent and a new administrator that goes by the name Defcon appears to have taken over managerial duties, posting announcement and messages on the homepage. As of today, there is one that reads “If you had an order in escrow before break began, be sure to read Defcon’s full announcement before using the marketplace.” Silk Road administrators claim that the site is now able to seamlessly transition between managers, even if the current DPR is taken into custody. The supposed failsafe system was implemented by uploading portions of the Silk Road to “over 500” backup servers around the world. If one server goes down, or is seized by authorities, then another one can take its place within minutes. DPR’s announcement “We now have over 500 independent backups with keyholders in 17 countries. Whack-a-mole will not work. Time for an open, frank discussion.” was release on Twitter back in December and is meant to assure customers, and warn law enforcement, that the system cannot be stopped.
The new Silk Road is an improved version of the original, offering heightened security for those looking to purchase illegal contraband like narcotics and paraphernalia. The Silk Road operates using the Tor browser, protecting the identity of its visitors by blocking their IP addresses, and uses the encrypted e-currency, bitcoins. Both are effective tools against the preying eyes of law enforcement, protecting the identity of all users.
Although there are other sites on the dark web offering the sale of scheduled narcotics, many of them have proven to be unreliable or flat-out scams. None have been able to offer the same quality of service or variety of products. The Silk Road operates more like its surface web counterpart, including a rating system for sellers and buyers (think: ebay or Amazon), escrow for financial transactions and a forum to rate and discuss the quality of service and products.
The name of the administrator, (or former administrator, as the case may be) Dread Pirate Roberts, is a reference to The Princess Bride. The Dread Pirate Roberts was not one single man, but a persona taken on by a chosen successor to the last Roberts, perpetuating the legend of the dreaded pirate captain. The last Roberts, aka Ross Ulbricht, fell to the folly of greed. He was arrested on October 2, 2013 on multiple accounts of drug trafficking, hacking and even two for-hire kills.
On the surface, not much has changed from the original Silk Road to new and improved version. The most significant change is the added security feature which allows users to use their PGP encryption key for added authentication. One moderator, who goes by the name Synergy, wrote “Silk Road 2.0 will be reborn better, much much more secure as testament to the tenacity and determination of this wonderful community of ours. We will not be down trodden, we will rise again.”
The black market bizarre now has thousands of items for sale, including everything from marijuana to china white heroin. It’s tempting to dive back in and start shopping! But with all the turmoil over the last few months, it might be wise keep an eye on things, before dumping a ton of money into bitcoins. I have faith that the drug using members of society will persevere and prevail, but what road bumps the DEA and other law enforcement agencies will throw our way is yet to be seen. The War on Drugs is not over, but I’m confident the people on drugs are winning.