The Silk Road 2.0 fall out has yet to settle. The FBI may have been in control of Silk Road since October 17th and international government agencies are still taking action against Silk Road users around the world, presumably with information gleaned from running the site as a honeypot for a number of days. The American agencies worked with law enforcement agencies in France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Seemingly, the UK has already taken some action against Silk Road 2.0 actors; as such, don’t be surprised when more comes. The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that two men in South Dublin believed to be operating a drug ring online, through Silk Road 2.0, have also been arrested today in Ireland. Garda, the Irish police agency, had this to say:
“A critical part of this operation was preservation of data on encrypted computers which related to the worldwide distribution of controlled drugs from this premises in Dublin. With the invaluable assistance of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and the Computer Crime Investigation Unit, a number of computers were safely retrieved with accessible information immediately at the time of entry on this search. At this time analysis is continuing with regard to storage of electro currency Bitcoin, and CAB have already seized certain currency assets.”
Yesterday, FBI agents in San Francisco arrested a California man believed to be the individual responsible for “resurrecting” Silk Road 2.0 after the FBI arrested Ross Ulbricht late last year for allegedly operating Silk Road as Dread Pirate Roberts. Now, prosecutors are accusing Blake Benthall or going by the online handle Defcon and launching Silk Road 2.0 to heights unseen by the original model: SR 2.0 was able to generate $8 million a month in revenue among over 100,000 users around the world.
Silk Road 2.0 went online shortly after the demise of Silk Road 1.0 in October of 2013. Just a little over 13 months later, Silk Road 2.0 has been taken down. However, the landscape of the “illegal” underground marketplace has changed drastically in the last year. Besides Silk Road 2.0, there are several other centralized underground marketplaces that exist both in the Deep Web and without it. As Silk Road 2.0 and others in its generation of centralized, not-obfuscated-enough online marketplaces falls, we will see the rise of decentralized services such as Open Bazaar.
Users of Silk Road 2.0 that followed proper security procedures can still remain confident of their processes; however, the growing litany of explanations for Benthall’s identification do raise additional issues about privacy online and personal responsibility. The fall of Silk Road 2.0 was expected: This is Defcon 5, not Defcon 1.
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