Wow, what a complete shitbag (DPR = Dread Pirate Roberts):
DPR sent a message to "redandwhite" stating that "FriendlyChemist"
is "Causing me problems" and adding: "I would like to put a bounty on
his head if it's not too much trouble for you. What would be an
adequate amount to motivate you to find him?"
Later that same day, redandwhite sent DPR a message quoting him a
price of $150,000 or $300,000 "depending on how you want it done" -
"clean" or "non-clean"
DPR responded: "Don't want to be a pain here, but the price seems high.
Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k. Are the prices you
quoted the best you can do? I would like this done ASAP as he is
talking about releasing the info on Monday.
DPR and redandwhite agreed upon a price of 1,670 Bitcoins - approximately
$150k - for the job. In DPR's message confirming the deal, DPR included
a transacation record reflecting the transfer of 1,670 Bitcoins to a
certain Bitcoin address.
Made $80mm in commissions running a drug trafficking network, paying hundreds of thousands to have people executed, mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy.... He's looking at cartel level prison time.
* BUT DPR was also afraid it'd lead to more extortion
* DPR knew redandwhite was same as friendlychemist or an associate of his
Based on these assumptions, DPR's move to pay redandwhite was really DPR paying friendlychemist while also communicating the length to which he is willing to go to deal with extortionists. So by going the path he went, he paid off friendlychemist and scared him at the same time.
That's crazy. Ulbricht would have to have been the dumbest person in the world to create an electronic record of having ordered and verified the consummation of a hired killing simply to send a message. "LOL JK", he planned to tell the jury?
The guy he tried to have killed could show up and testify on his behalf and a reasonable jury might still find him guilty.
I think we can all see at this point that Ulbricht got played. But that doesn't exculpate him. (Not that it matters yet; he hasn't been charged with the attempted murder).
FC: Give me money so I can pay my debts.
DP: Lemme talk to your creditor.
RW: I'm FC's creditor, whats up.
DP: I don't owe FC money. Rather I want him dead. Can you do this.
RW: Sure. $250k.
DP: I normally pay 80k to kill people. Split the difference?
... uh. wtf? The whole exchange really makes no sense, unless you assume that DPR knew he was talking to the same guy all along and was working on terms that would make the guy not bother him by scaring him off.
Or friendlychemist creates a new account called jerkyboy and rethreatens him with extortion, this time claiming to have evidence that he took out a hit on friendlychemist from his friend redandwhite ... and just keeps the whole cycle going.
Sounds like the guy was a petty criminal who wasn't as smart as he should have been if he wanted to run an underground market for criminal activity.
Or that they would simply split the money and his target would shut up (pretend to die, by disappearing off that monicker). Or if it's the same user, the money doesn't even have to be split for that. Or it's a way to send a message that he's serious.... (in a way the recipient gets).
Although I believe the foregoing exchange demonstrates DPR's intention to solicit
a murder-for-hire, I have spoken with Canadian law enforcement authorities, who
have no record of there being any Canadian resident with the name DPR passed to
redandwhite as the target of the solicited murder-for-hire. Nor do they have any
record of a homicide occurring in White Rock, British Columbia on or about
March 31, 2013.
I formatted your post a bit better so it's readable on mobile devices, but I agree.
32. Although I believe foregoing exchange demonstrates DPR's
intention to solicit a murder-for-hire, I have spoken with
Canadian law enforcement authorities, who have no record of
there being any Canadian resident with the name DPR passed to
redandwhite as the target of the solicited murder-for-hire.
Nor do they have any record of a homicide occurring in White
Rock, British Columbia on or about March 31, 2013"
Since the police couldn't find a record of the alleged murder victim, I'm guessing that "redandwhite" and "friendlychemist" were the same person playing a con on DPR to get some cash.
I'd venture a wild guess that DPR knew the two were the same :) He paid off friendlychemist "indirectly" but also communicated that he wouldn't mind extreme measures to make him disappear shall this occur again.
If you keep reading, the document later details that DPR contacted this "redandwhite" person, who he contracted to kill the other person, regarding false identifications. That seems to add some doubt to your hypothesis, or at least complicates things.
No worries, the best way I've found to do it is to manually split the lines every 10 words or so.
So a paragraph that would run off the page and break mobile devices in normal circumstances should be broken in several places by a hard 'return' plus more spaces.
Is really just a collection of sentence fragments
that all fit the same formatting. There might be
a better way, but I don't know it!
If you're an emacs user, prefix the line with the desired number of spaces then type M-q, copy back into your browser. That's my solution to formatting block quotes at least. Your long line prexixed with 3 spaces in emacs:
So a paragraph that would run off the page and break mobile
devices in normal circumstances should be broken in several
places by a hard 'return' plus more spaces.
And your split-by-hand block quote:
Is really just a collection of sentence fragments that all
fit the same formatting. There might be a better way, but I
don't know it!
As a Vim newb (well, ok I can use it, but I'm not well-versed in its more arcane elements), how do you select lines? C-<space> in emacs starts region selection, but I've never tried to select anything in Vim.
> 32. Although I believe foregoing exchange demonstrates DPR's intention to solicit a murder-for-hire, I have spoken with Canadian law enforcement authorities, who have no record of there being any Canadian resident with the name DPR passed to redandwhite as the target of the solicited murder-for-hire. Nor do they have any record of a homicide occurring in White Rock, British Columbia on or about March 31, 2013"
Or an angle bracket, with an opening and closing asterisk.
> 32. Although I believe foregoing exchange demonstrates DPR's intention to solicit a murder-for-hire, I have spoken with Canadian law enforcement authorities, who have no record of there being any Canadian resident with the name DPR passed to redandwhite as the target of the solicited murder-for-hire. Nor do they have any record of a homicide occurring in White Rock, British Columbia on or about March 31, 2013"
This means you don't need to include any line breaks.
The US gov produced a document a while back about assassinating people - though for the life of my I can't find my copy so it's possible there wasn't anything novel enough in there to be worth keeping it. I believe they recommended causing someone to fall from a high place. I'd imagine by grasping their ankles and then tipping them over the edge; though the precise methodology for the tripping was redacted in the version I saw.
He asked the other account a few months later to make him a fake ID. Why would you be contacting and want to be involved with somebody who extorted you to the tune of $150k just a few months back? Not to mention he would then have to give up his physical address to have the docs sent, to someone who just a few months previous threatened to release the physical addresses of users on the site?
There's no evidence of that. This theory just comes from the Bitcoin community's desire to make DPR into a martyr. Its not as if he was particularly sophisticated in covering his tracks in the first place (a lot of the things he did were facepalm worthy). Occam's razor -- he meant to take out a hit, and was just stupid.
That hypocrisy grabbed me too. The complaint, when talking about his background makes special note of this;
After going to Penn St for a grad degree in materials science,
"Ulbrecht states that his 'goals' subsequently 'shifted'. Ulbricht
elaborates, obliquely, that he has since focused on "creating an
"economic simulation" designed to "give people a first-hand experience
of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of
force" by "institutions and governments."
The monopoly on the use of force by Government agents keeps private actors (or at least it attempts to) from employing violence on their own terms. Absent that monopoly, private agents will fill the void.
You wouldn't be able to build up the necessary military force without expending massive amounts of money and drawing negative attention to yourself. Investors would not want to be involved with a company creating a PR nightmare and wasting their money on evil. Customers would boycott, the company's stock price would drop, and they wouldn't be able to carry out their plans anyway.
You seem to be assuming that the allegations are true. The understanding that most people have had is that DPR is a pure freedom fighter. If you take away those allegations, all that's left are fake "crimes" that aren't really crimes at all, just things that government doesn't like.
Edit: but I'm waiting and reading with an open mind.
I'd guess that he might be willing to kill people in the case that there are threats to his personal security. He also had aspirations for his site to bring about a libertarian revolution and may have thought that threats to the integrity of the site were worth killing for.
The "non-aggression principle" is basically a propaganda con by libertarians, though.
The way this works is that they take their own favorite definition of personal property, and then re-define the word "aggression" as: "anything that violates my definition of personal property, and nothing else".
So, when a land owner shoots somebody who mis-stepped onto his land without warning, that is not aggression according to libertarians - if you really take them seriously.
Obviously, when you point that out to a libertarian, an endless game of shifting definition starts, much like how many discussions about the existence of god go with theists.
You are spreading FUD and misinformation. Shame on you. The non-aggression principle does not work like the laws of physics, so just because someone steps on your land, it does not give you the right to shoot them. You are arguing from absurdity. The non-aggression principle is about not committing force, fraud or coercion against another human being. It's really that simple. You may use force when someone is directly threatening your life. That's how it's been discussed in the forums and videos I've been exposed to. Stop holding principles regarding morality to the same standard as the laws of physics.
I certainly wouldn't endorse it, just pointing to it as an attempt to avoid the circularity of defining violence as "what the state does" and then defining "a state" as "the organization with a monopoly on violence".
I do think it nonetheless ends up pretty entangled in the ideas invented by the modern centralized state, especially the ideas of "property ownership" and "a contract", which are supposed to exist in a sort of ethereal global-variable state separate from any facts in the physical world or local interactions. The modern state enables that fiction by maintaining a central property register backed by a cadastral survey, and a set of courts that enforce the abstract idea of a contract. Minarchists are perhaps more open about this dependence than anarcho-capitalists are, by just directly asserting that the state should exist solely to operate and enforce a property register and contract law.
You're probably right, there's definitely a spectrum of libertarianism.
And it's not as if libertarians are entirely crazy. It's healthy to have some baseline skepticism towards authority. But it's also healthy to have some baseline skepticism towards market solutions. As usual, the best answer(s) are somewhere in compromise and in the middle.
I guess that ideas like the "non-aggression principle" are so alluring to some because they have a sort of superficial "intellectual purity" which that kind of compromising answer lacks.
I should point out that you're conflating anarcho-libertarians with old-school statist libertarians. Most people who self-identify as libertarian believe in a state to protect property, prosecute crime, etc.
Even the self-described anarcho-capitalist libertarians of my acquaintance usually see the use of force as legitimate, as long as it's a non-governmental actor such as a private police force, mutual defense pact, enforcer of contracts, publicly traded corporation, etc. The people who take on the somewhat more difficult task of imagining a society without the organized use of force at all tend to call themselves anarchists, in my experience.
I think it is an arbitrary comparison. Possibly 10,000+ years in jail and who knows how many shankings vs maybe 50 of no existence for one person. You are right that, in a basic scenario, killing is a disproportionate response to a lesser crime, but this is an active threat versus a past event and who knows what jail would bring for these hundreds of people who could be convicted.
I'm not sure of the details of this situation but just following libertarian legal reasoning there may be another way to justify it. The logically consistent libertarian position on abortion is neither pro-choice nor pro-life. Block's theory of evictionism is basically that a mother's right to remove a fetus is stronger than the fetus' right to be in the womb, yet the mother is not permitted to kill the fetus straight off exactly.
If there was developed some technology such as a pig fetus used to carry the child to term then that technology would have to be employed. Would there be some other reliably effective means to stop this snitch besides killing him?
> I think it is an arbitrary comparison. Possibly 10,000+ years in jail and who knows how many shankings vs maybe 50 of no existence for one person. You are right that, in a basic scenario, killing is a disproportionate response to a lesser crime, but this is an active threat versus a past event and who knows what jail would bring for these hundreds of people who could be convicted.
If you are simply arguing the most utilitarian point of view for the sum of the actors involved, surely paying him off is the most moral thing to do. $300K to prevent 10,000+ years of jail and shankings versus killing someone. $300k is much less than the life of one person.
You think the most moral outcome is one person who threatens a thousand with years of caging getting $300K? Are there any situations where you don't think one should be rewarded for making massive threats?...
It's more moral than killing someone over a threat based on the pure conjecture that carrying out the threat will result in a punishment by a 3rd party.
Isn't the real threat the 3rd party that would be doing the jailing? Why is freely communicating what some people did a grounds for murder? He's not the one that is doing the locking people up -- it just so happens to be more convenient to murder him then to take on the justice system. Convenience does not make it the moral course of action.
> Block's theory of evictionism is basically that a mother's right to remove a fetus is stronger than the fetus' right to be in the womb, yet the mother is not permitted to kill the fetus straight off exactly
I adore libertarians, I really do, for all the energy and earnestness they bring to their theory of government. But I can't take them very seriously, and this sort of thing is exactly why.
Did I miss something in the article? Where did you get that information? Here's the complete text of the linked article:
Oct 2 (Reuters) - U.S. law enforcement authorities raided
an Internet site that served as a marketplace for illegal
drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and arrested its
owner, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday.
The FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht, known as "Dread
Pirate Roberts," in San Francisco on Tuesday, according to
court filings. Federal prosecutors charged Ulbricht with
one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy,
computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering
conspiracy, according to a court filing.
I think one could be entrapped into a murder-for-hire.
Certain government authorities know you're acquainted with someone who's previously been fingered for murder-for-hire but never convicted.
The "authorities" call you and threaten to murder your family; you naturally seek back-up from your erstwhile acquaintance. The police ensure they give you just enough information to track their threat back to a "person" of their construction.
Boom. You're up on a rap of "conspiracy to commit first degree murder" (or whatever it's actually called in your jurisdiction).
I said this in the last DPR story (the interview): my bet is that he will go down for tax evasion. It's hard to prove murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking, etc., but it's easy to prove that this guy made a bunch of money and didn't pay taxes on it. He'll get federal prison time for it.
If Person A has known motive to kill Person B, in a "non-clean" hit Person A will immediately come under suspicion. If the hit is "clean", anything could have happened and it's a lot harder to establish it as a murder and therefore Person A has a much lower risk of being brought into the case.
Depends how they did it. Shoot someone with an unregistered or stolen rifle from long distance, capture your brass, destroy the rifle and brass. Obviously a murder, if it were done that way. Very little effort involved, and what've the cops really got then?
You'd probably create more evidence trying to make it look like an accident than you'd clear up just by doing it some easier way.
It really depends on where you are. There are vast rural areas in USA, for instance, in which there are many rifles the theft of which wouldn't even be noticed for weeks. Just don't take them during the month before deer season.
My guess is that "clean" includes disposal of the body and other evidence. Like in movies where people call up the "cleaner" after a murder to make the bodies disappear (e.g., "Victor the Cleaner" in Point of No Return).
I understand the psychology behind being shocked at this and everything thinking he deserves jail time, but given the War on Drugs and the way the US Justice System works with respect to drug charges, I would imagine that that one violent crime charge is likely to be a drop in the bucket in comparison to all the victimless crime charges for drugs.
However, what I am surprised by is the fact that there wasn't really any focus on his facilitation of arms trafficking. I would imagine that those activities are more likely to cause actual harm to society that we should be worried about.
s/Libertarian ideals/Stereotypical Libertarian ideals in the general sense, as characterized by an emphasis on individual rights, and a decrease in power or control of the state or societal systems over individual financial or personal actions or rights./
Made $80mm in commissions running a drug trafficking network, paying hundreds of thousands to have people executed, mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy.... He's looking at cartel level prison time.
He paid someone to kill an extortionist that had threatened to release incriminating info on a lot of users. As far as the law goes it's the same as him killing his child's first grade teacher over a bad grade but when you extort someone operating a drug dealing network, what do you expect?
Apparently the FBI managed to track down the actual server running the site:
During the course of this investigation, the FBI has located a
number of computer servers, both in the United States and in
multiple foreign countries, associated with the operation of Silk
Road. In particular, the FBI has located in a certain foreign
country the server used to host Silk Road's website (the "Silk
Road Web Server"). Pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty
Request, an image of the Silk Road Web Server was made on or
about July 23, 2013 and produced thereafter to the FBI.
This server image seems to have been the source of a lot of the evidence leading to the arrest warrant: the IP logs that matched his location, an account name that matched his StackOverflow account, and of course all the private messages and chat logs regarding his personal location (messages indicating Pacific time), operation of the site (payments to other admins), and the extortion attempt/attempted hit.
What the complaint doesn't specify is how the FBI managed to locate the Silk Road server. It's possible that they already had some suspicion of DPR's identity, and managed to bug his computers or otherwise track his activity well enough to figure out what systems he was logging into. But given how coy the complaint is about this, I wonder if in fact this is the result of a sophisticated analysis of Tor network traffic (possibly in collaboration with the NSA?). If that's the case, it betrays a level of capability that ought to be frightening for the operators of other anonymous Tor services. Anyone with more Tor expertise want to comment on how likely this is?
Haven't finished the complaint yet, but it looks to me like the FBI found a security vulnerability in the Silk Road website itself. More specifically, it looks like they found a way to have the PHP source code sent as an HTTP response rather than have that PHP code executed and send its output. From page 27 of the complaint:
Further, based on forensic analysis of the Silk Road
Web Server, I know that the server includes computer
code that was once used to restrict administrative
access to the server, so that only a user logging
into the server from a particular IP address,
specified in the code, could access it.
The report later goes on to say that they mapped that IP address to a VPN provider whose account was set up from an internet cafe near the house of a friend of DPR.
It looks like they first started suspecting Ulbricht when one of the forum account usernames he used to market Silk Road, "altoid", posted the GMail address "firstname.lastname@example.org" when looking for technical help. From page 26 of the complaint:
From further reviewing the Bitcoin Talk forum,
Agent-1 located another posting on the forum by
"altoid," made on October 11, 2011, approximately
eight months after his posting about Silk Road.
In this later posting, made in a separate and
unrelated discussion thread, "altoid" stated that
he was looking for an "IT pro in the Bitcoin
community" to hire in connection with "a venture
backed Bitcoin startup company." The posting
directed interested users to send their responses
to "rossulbricht at gmail dot com" - indicating
that "altoid" uses the e-mail address
"email@example.com" (the "Ulbricht Gmail
After DPR's mistake of using the same account to market Silk Road and solicit help with an email address, the FBI seems to have used good old-fashioned legwork to subpoena records and build a case against DPR.
Where in the complaint do you see evidence of a website vulnerability? The part you quoted just reads to me as describing DPR's use of a VPN, with the "forensic analysis" part referring to analysis of the disk image after the server had already been identified and imaged.
That said, a security vulnerability in the website does seem like a really plausible conjecture: it's hard to write that much PHP code and not screw up somewhere, especially given that he was probably doing most of it himself, without anyone to do independent QA. And even if the site code itself was fine, the Silk Road is a high-enough value target that the FBI might have thought it worth using a PHP 0-day. Once they're into the site, it's probably not hard to get it to dump an IP address or other externally identifying information.
Yeah, that was a bit of a logical leap. I can see that the code analysis was probably done after getting a disk image now. I think the original lead probably came from his second bitcointalk "altoid" post, though.
I'm not super familiar with this case or the ATT vs weev one, but I thought I read that the prosecution in the weev trial made the argument that accessing information in the open, like that of server logs is hacking? If that precedent was set, wouldn't that have an effect on when a warrant is required or no? Just curious
... I know that, on May 24, 2013, a Silk Road user sent
him a private message warning him that "some sort of
external IP address" was "leaking" from the site, and
listed the IP address of the VPN Server.
I remember reading an article in 2600 where someone figured out that quite a few websites took a PHP filename as a query arg to be eval'd... and some subset of those had no mechanism in place to restrict it to local files. Needless to say, they could point that arg to example.com/malicious.php and have it run on the vulnerable box.
The best part was that they constructed a Google query to find sites that would eval remote PHP code. It was something else!
That was my first lesson in validating any external input. Learned the hard way, in my first six months of building websites professionally. Happily, the hosting provider put me onto a helpful tech guy who walked me through what I'd done and how to avoid it. There was a lot less 'common knowledge' and 'everyone knows' in 2001.
From the Forbes article:
"So this was not merely a distributed denial of service attack? It was a zero day exploit? Did it gain access to any data or simply knock the site offline?
I’m not one hundred percent on this, but I don’t think it’s possible to do a DDoS over Tor, or at least it is much harder than doing it over the clear net. The effect of the attack was to block access to Silk Road. No data was leaked, in fact we’ve never had a data leak.
Posted after the feds imaged the server. OOOPS. Hubris is dangerous.
I think the point here is that, even though the letter agencies would not have ignored it... they surely got a lot more "incentives" internally to focus on SR when it got more mainstream attention. More analysts, more easily approved wiretapping/surveillance actions (not that they need approvals of any kind nowadays), essentially more money into it.
People slip, it's inevitable. How fast that happens probably got accelerated by SR's owner appearances and the dent it was making in the agencies' reputation.
This is like saying nana nana boo boo stick your head in doo doo. You can't run an illegal business and then vehemently flaunt it to a major news publication that gets read around the world essentially saying that your smarter than the government won't end well for anyone.
Rather, the type of person who was willing to engage in illegal activities while also doing a high-profile interview was unlikely to be the sort of person who was paranoid enough to cover their tracks (e.g., avoid re-using handles and other identifying information).
Not an expert, but I've heard a lot of people discussing how Tor can be compromised via timing analysis and owning enough exit nodes. Which is well within the capabilities of large nation-states' intelligence agencies.
It is a widely reported fact that the NSA will hand tips to the FBI/DEA/etc, which will then use "parallel construction" to reverse engineer legally admissible evidence once they have been tipped off to the guilty parties.
The silk road flew too close to the sun. As soon as they started getting in the news, and DPR started his libertarian manifesto-ing, it was just a matter of time. There are no old, bold crooks.
Silk Road is (was) a hidden service, internal to the Tor network, so controlling exit nodes wouldn't be relevant here. You'd need to actually be able to analyze traffic within the Tor network. Which still seems plausible, but maybe more difficult since the Tor network as a whole is a lot bigger than just the exit nodes, so it'd be harder to control a sizable fraction of it.
I would presume that, given that it's a persistent service, it'd be relatively straightforward to do a timing analysis, given that an FBI computer could ping the server at will, and then the server would reply from outside the network, via an exit node, which you could analyze if you had enough exit nodes.
Honestly, there might be even more exploits that I'm unaware of (still not an expert), given that the silk road server is probably doing a lot of tor traffic, which makes them an outlier, and it's tough for an outlier to blend into the background. Maybe tor can mitigate that though, don't know.
Hidden services are routed through ordinary Tor nodes. You're correct that they wouldn't have to control exit nodes explicitly, they'd just have to control the routing nodes along a specific chain that formed the connection to SR.
If you read the statements in the Freedom Hosting case you can see that the FBI managed to deanonymize the Tor network using browser tricks. Once you've got the network the rest is pretty straight forward tracking the bits I would suppose.
This also explains why the other market place shut down quickly, unlike DRP they apparently deduced it was only a matter of time before their location and identity was disclosed.
That isn't correct. The US placed a virus on the sourcecode of freedom hosting, either by seizing control of the servers, or by hacking, which exploited a vulnerability specific to version of firefox found in a popular all in one TOR access kit.
They did not compromise the network, they compromised an out of date version of firefox.
They might well be able to de-annonimize TOR, by monitoring traffic between a large enough proportion of TOR nodes. Given recent NSA/GCHQ long distance cable intercept stories, this is no longer unrealistic. But there is no direct evidence yet. It is also worth mentioning that the US has spent a lot of effort developing an attack capability, and probably hit enemies like Silk Road with attacks as sophisticated as Aurora or Stuxnet. Maybe we just don't hear about that, because of the beauty of parallel construction.
The US placed a virus on the sourcecode of freedom hosting, either by seizing control of the servers, or by hacking, which exploited a vulnerability specific to version of firefox found in a popular all in one TOR access kit.
I think we said the same thing, or at least if I interpret your statement correctly I meant the same thing. I said "browser tricks" and you said "vulnerability specific to firefox (a browser)" and I said "de-anonymized" (which was the analysis that most people pointed to as to why the FBI was collecting data from various hosts) and you described the same scenario " ... monitoring traffic between a large enough proportion of TOR nodes ..."
My interpretation of the events was, they got to Freedom hosting, they used that to exploit browsers into giving them correlating information about Tor endpoints, and using that traffic and resources in the already documented 'meta data snooping' programs that other parts of the government have and have made available, they figured out which servers were serving up the Silk Road web site, and by that (and a copy of the servers hard drives aka a server image) figured out who the guy was who was using the Dread Pirate Roberts moniker.
So is your understanding of how this went down different than that? And was that explanation different (other than detail) than my original comment which you assert was incorrect? Happy to be shown where I am wrong here, so I'm trying to figure out what what part you disagreed with.
Well, I read your comment as saying that TOR should be seen as compromised. Your comments about other market owners only seem make sense if that was what you were saying. I just pointed out that the previous attack you mentioned was a bit of a one off, and any repeat would need its own unique set of vulnerabilities. Hence so far as we know, no virus on SR.
Apparently not, as he used Technocash to do it. He probably used fake ID to pay a bitcoin exchanger to send the money 3rd party.
It appears he was caught because he slipped up opsec confusing real and fake identities, he was being watched by homeland security because he stupidly tried to import 9 fake IDs to his residence, and he was logging into the server with a VPN, not SSH tunneled through Tor.
AFAIK it'd take some doing but it's not outside of the realm of possibility. If you can monitor enough of the Tor network's traffic, you can begin to make correlations.
This may not even require large-scale traffic analysis; I wonder if you configure your client to use a chain of 2 or 3 "known good" nodes, teach the nodes to block other potential users, and capture the traffic, if an effective timing attack could be done that way (request SilkRoad at 0:00, get back a page with the relevant contents at 0:01, and trace those lines through the nodes). It sounds like it'd be feasible to me, but I'm another amateur.
Running this kind of service becomes infinitely more difficult if you can't hide your hidden services.
Also I wonder how they got a server image without him noticing since it is typically something you'd need to shut down the machine for. Was the whole thing running off a hosting service?
It would be pretty impressive if he physically had servers in multiple countries. Just setting them up without involving other people seems difficult.
Edit: He did use hosting services which probably used virtualization so it is easy to clone drives for. The complaint has him buying fake ids (which were confiscated in transit!) in order to rent more servers.
If by "server image" they mean image(s) of the hard disk partition(s) (that's what I suspect they mean) -- easy. If the server is using LVM or some similar technology -- you can take a snapshot while the server is still running, no problem.
You can do `cat /dev/sda` on a live server (as root) without any special stuff like LVM or a hypervisor, it just isn't guaranteed to take a clean image, as it isn't a snapshot. In most cases you'd probably just need to run fdisk to tidy it up and get 99% of the data back in one piece.
>Also I wonder how they got a server image without him noticing since it is typically something you'd need to shut down the machine for. Was the whole thing running off a hosting service?
How often does one of your servers crash? I mean, it happens. I estimate maybe once a year/server, on average, assuming a 5 year lifecycle. (well, usually it's more like 'no crashes for the first three years, several crashes a year after' - hardware ages.)
Hell, whole racks lose power at times. Doesn't happen all that often, but it happens often enough that if your provider says "We blew breaker X" well, more often than not, it's a honest problem, and not the FBI yanking power to image a drive.
Or hell... what if it's a server with a mirrored drive? It'd be easy enough to pull half the mirror (the drive 'failed' right? Hell, you can say you let the salesguy into the co-lo and he bumped the hard drive release catch, or you sent in the new kid to swap a drive and they pulled the wrong one. These things aren't common, but they are way more common than the FBI.)
Hell, a drive could have legitimately failed and been sent back to seagate/wd by the provider (assuming he was renting servers) for warranty repair. The FBI could have intercepted the drive (or gotten it from the manufacturer) and run their own analysis.
So yeah. I totally believe that the FBI could get a reasonable image without DPR or anyone being the wiser.
"Hell, whole racks lose power at times. Doesn't happen all that often, but it happens often enough that if your provider says "We blew breaker X" well, more often than not, it's a honest problem, and not the FBI yanking power to image a drive."
Now you've got me wondering whether the apparent disparity between manufacturers claimed MTBF and what we see in failure rates in the real world, might plausibly be attributed to mysterious government agencies coercing data center owners into unexpected-but-plausible downtime. (four or five nines of power uptime might just mean the FBI/NSA need to batch server imaging and grab a whole bunch in a particular data center at once)
>Now you've got me wondering whether the apparent disparity between manufacturers claimed MTBF and what we see in failure rates in the real world, might plausibly be attributed to mysterious government agencies coercing data center owners into unexpected-but-plausible downtime. (four or five nines of power uptime might just mean the FBI/NSA need to batch server imaging and grab a whole bunch in a particular data center at once)
It's far more likely that people are idiots. How many hardware techs do you know who even own an ESD wrist strap? I get actively ridiculed when I pull mine out.
Next, the SLAs claimed by datacenters are usually bullshit on multiple levels.
First, the penalty is usually "we will refund you for the time you were down, if you ask." - which is fine, but a 5 minute power outage can be brutal to clean up after, while 5 minutes of your monthly bill is hardly worth asking for. I'd be happy to give people a 100% sla on those terms. I mean, obviously, the service isn't going to be up 100%, but the penalties are so low that who cares?
Then, well, even if the facility doesn't lose power, there are a hundred different ways a server or a rack can lose power.
Hell, even I let a guy into my co-lo who plugged in one of those ancient computers with a manual 110-240v switch. (everything made in the last decade auto-switches.) He plugged it into my 208v power, with the switch on 110, causing the fuses on my PDU to blow (and taking out the whole rack)
And power cords. Especially if you don't have dual power supplies, power cords get bumped. The mark of a honest sysadmin is that s/he admits it when they bump the cord
So yeah, while it /could/ be the FBI, the vast majority of the time, well, someone fucked up.
(Adds lsc to the list of likely NSA collaborators…) ;-)
And yeah, you're right about hosting SLAs - I've got a hosting account which proudly advertises "100% uptime guarantee", which in the fineprint/t&cs offers "pro rata refunds for _twice_ your costs of any downtime!" – on a $48/year invoice - so if they go down for an entire _week_, they'll owe me not quite two whole dollars. Thanks...
Even the much more expensive/professional hosting I arrange for other clients always includes something like:
Limitation of Damages
Recovery of damages from $hostingCompany may not exceed
the amount of fees it has collected on the account.
The Silk Road has been notoriously unreliable. Constantly "Down for maintenance" and often just unresponsive for hours at a time. Besides the government it has also come under a number of malicious attacks from disgruntled users.
I imagine the DPR was logging in via VPN just to get some kind of consistent access to the site, even with I'm sure there were many times where the servers were unresponsive even to him.
You have to weight the pros and cons. Hosting yourself, means you have to get a proper location with power, internet connection, ect. You have to get and pay for this anonymously. You do have a greater control over it.
If it's colocated, you only have one type of payment to do, and I'm fairly sure it's easier to be anonymous. You have less control over this location, and have to worry about their logging of access and the like.
He also logged into his servers using clearnet/vpn they could trace. He had a degree in physics and a masters wtf was he doing playing gangster ordering hits and still running that site. Should have cashed out and fled to Brazil
If the FBI has been tracking down SilkRoad for years, I find it completely reasonable that they finally find the location of the server just based on traffic analysis. I'm sure that FBI or NSA runs number of exit and intermediate nodes to collect statistical correlations from traffic and track down hidden services given enough time (there is even public research that shows how it can be done: http://epub.uni-regensburg.de/11919/1/authorsversion-ccsw09....).
All that said, its even more likely that they found his identity other way. He seems to have slipped from time to time. I think most people underestimate the amount of boring and tedious chores they must do year after year if they want to conceal their identity from FBI who is actively searching them online. It seems that the main theme in revealed identities seems to be reusing usernames or using the same email in two different contexts that link person to his anonymous identity.
Agreed - I'd like to think both this, and the Lavabit being coerced to hand over private SSL keys news elsewhere today - indicates that TOR and SSL are still "as secure as needed" against even targeted FBI attacks.
Unfortunately that all now needs to be viewed with the suspicion of "parallel reconstruction" - I'm somewhat less convinced that if the NSA targeted someone specific that SSL and TOR would resist their efforts (and that for something like Silk Road, that the NSA wouldn't happily break and read everything DPR did over his SSL secured TOR connections, and "share" just the right tidbits with the FBI for them to go and create a plausible explanation involving google searches and old forum posts).
Welcome to the post Snowden era - where we know that our governments not only don't have our best interests in mind, but have sophisticated programs in place to lie to us about how they arrive at the evidence they present (in those annoying occasions where they have to use courts who aren't just rubber-stamping everything they're told too).
(Edit: on reflection, it's kinda sad that this might well have been good detective work by diligent, talented, and persistent FBI investigators doing exactly what he taxpayer employs them to do - but that effort is now permanently under the dark cloud of suspicion of unconstitutional dragnet surveillance and morally corrupt processes like "parallel reconstruction".)
We don't know that any "parallel construction" is at work here. It seems like most of the information stemmed from the discovery of the Silk Road web server, and I haven't seen how they were able to determine that. If this goes to trial, then the FBI will have to say how it got that information (assuming he has a competent defense team).
That's the thing though. We know that as of very recently the NSA is helping other alphabet agencies construct cases in parallel. If you knew the guy's name or handle or whatever information the NSA could have given the FBI then coming up with an alternate story of how they ID'd the guy (page 24 onwards in the criminal complaint) would be incredibly easy. The point is that we'll probably never know either way.
True, and the next Silk Road owner will certainly take that point into account.
Obviously, the disappearance of such a site leaves a gaping hole on the Web:
Silk Road has proven that the demand/market is there, that people are willing to use the Web to acquire those goods, that they are willing to pay, that the whole transaction works and that this leads to a massive amount of cash.
So, make no mistake, the next Silk Road creator is certainly out there, probably technically more astute and careful, and already building.
...the next Silk Road creator is certainly out there, probably technically more astute and careful...
And almost as certainly: more experienced in the use of serious violence. The next guy won't be hiring hitters without introductions from fellow violent criminals. (Not that undercover cops have never been vouched for in such a manner, but it raises the stakes significantly.) Yay Drug War!
If they used parallel construction, then why didn't they list how they got the information about the location/IP of the Silk Road webserver? I would assume that they would have ParallelConstruction'd a reasonable way for them to have obtained that information, no?
You appear to be missing the point of parallel construction. The point is that they show a true, but-not-the-whole-truth "hand" (the parallel construction) while obscuring the full truth. That is, you spy on someone, and obtain a bunch of evidence, either illegally or that is fruit of the poisonous tree. From that knowledge, you construct a (fictitious or only partially fictitious, but plausible) story about how you gathered enough evidence to incriminate your victim, without revealing that you came across this evidence illegally. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_construction.
Yes, they are legally obligated to not lie about the true means of how they came to have the evidence. But if nobody can prove you're lying, they can't call you on it.
Few cases make it to trial, especially in the federal system. He's been charged with at least two capital eligible charges. They'll offer to plead down to life in prision (or 100+ years same difference) and he'll take it. We'll never see the government's full case.
The Google searches give a hint at DPR's identity. They don't give you the location of the actual Silk Road server.
Obviously there's lots of ways that guessing DPR's identity might allow someone with the FBI's resources to unmask the Silk Road server, though I don't know enough to know whether the forum post on its own would be considered sufficient evidence for a warrant to bug all of Ross Ulbricht's online activities. A lot of the more damning evidence for Ross Ulbricht as DPR (IP logs, the connection to the counterfeit documents, hostname of his personal machine, etc) seems to come from forensics on the captured server image. Analysis of Tor traffic doesn't seem like an implausible hypothesis, especially because that's a capability we'd be expecting the FBI/NSA to be developing anyway.
It is definitely enough to have CBP flag any packages crossing the border that are associated with that name, for which no warrant is required. After that, well, I'm no lawyer, but I think intercepting a package full of fake IDs is enough to justify a broader criminal investigation.
All it takes is just once. I saw a reddit comment that documented how one user determined the real-life identity of another user who was attempting to stay anonymous. The slip up? Two photos posted by the user under two different accounts shared the same background, and the user posted using both accounts in the same comment thread.
JK Rowling's dox was a result of a member of the publishing house's solicitors telling his wife, who then told a close friend who provided the initial leak on twitter, which gave the newspaper breaking the story enough to go on to start drawing those conclusions.
The lesson is that your ability to remain anonymous drops in almost direct proportion to the quantity of content you make available.
A careful user might have a more-shallow slope; they might be able to post more photos, if they're carefully scrubbing EXIF and being mindful of spillage (unintentional details in the frame). But every single posted photo is still inexorably eating away at their potential to remain anonymous.
After publishing the first picture, you might have to throw away the camera... You never know how much unique is the fingerprint of the camera. Might be very useful to crawl profiles to map photos and screen names.
It's funny, i so rarely browse reddit, but i somehow happened upon this story this week - i guess it came up in some kind of mega "what are you most ashamed of" thread or somesuch. Ultimately it was as GP described; a redditor researched one of 'gone wild' big 'stars', poured through her history ,ultimately found another reddit account of a selfie shot that had the same background as the 'gone wild' shot so concluded they were the same or friends, researched back that history and ultimately found her real identity.
This should be common sense, but as you stated, people seem to forget. We have supposedly spent a trillion dollars on the war on drugs, it seems silly for this guy to think he didn't warrant at least a multi-million dollar investigation.
From the time the silk road sold it's first product, it was only a matter of time before it's owner went to prison. If he were as smart as he thought he was, he would have gotten out of the business and the country shortly after he became a millionaire.
If the FBI systematically performed traffic confirmation on the Tor network, this would be a rather sloppy sources and methods cover, as they would eventually be forced to disclose the existence of the traffic confirmation system.
If the servers' IPs were obtained as a result of a passive traffic confirmation system that breaks Tor's anonymity, I would expect a detailed parallel construction to demonstrate an alternate explanation for how they unmasked the servers.
Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to request the evidence relating to the method of de-anonymization of the Silk Road servers. If a traffic confirmation system was used, the prosecution would be forced to disclose that to the defense, which could very well raise a solid argument that it violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights.
My guess is that the FBI used the gmail account information and early public silk road advertisements to obtain a warrant from a friendly judge to remotely monitor DPR's computer, and waited until he connected to the server. It's also possible that they exploited the web server, as was the case with FreedomHost.
Even after they rumbled his name, I wonder if he could have avoided direct culpability by keeping his net connection three hops away from the source systems, and using forged identity docs for anything official (mobile wifi connection and visa debit card)?
According to the filing, they found him through a combination of posting his personal @gmail.com address on the bitcointalk forum from the same account used to market Silkroad. Further, they found that his LinkedIn account somewhat corroborated the timeline/interest in what Silkroad is. Page 24 for the juicy details of how they identified him.
Also there is a section about murder-for-hire in Canada. Pretty wild stuff.
Update: Also he posted on Stackoverflow asking questions about Tor with his real name, then later changed his name. Supremely conspicuous.
"All told, the site has generated sales revenue totaling over 9.5 million Bitcoins and collected commissions from these sales totaling over 600,000 Bitcoins. Although the value of Bitcoins has varied significantly during the site's lifetime, these figures are roughly equivalent today to approximately $1.2 billion in sales and approximately $80 million in commissions."
Incidentally exactly how much Walter White made... That's a strange coincidence, or perhaps one of the clerks that gets paid to make up statistics for drug related criminal complaints is a breaking bad fan...
So this means the FBI now owns 600,000 bitcoins (5% of all bitcoins)? Probably more, since they also control the (presumably large number of) bitcoin stored in accounts on Silk road.
Seems like this could lead either to the legitimation or deligitimation of bitcoin as the FBI must assess their worth. It also gives the FBI the ability to mess with bitcoin markets if they choose, by flooding supply.
The anti-spoiler crowd are pretty demanding. A large and vocal group fought hard to introduce prominent spoiler warnings on Wikipedia. There was a time when every other literary work there had a warning that the article might be discussing the subject at hand.
It's a strange phenomena, and I'm not entirely convinced that it doesn't imply poor quality entertainment. Good quality entertainment is eminently re-watchable. How many times have I seen "Groundhog Day", or read "Lord of the Rings"? The fact that I know exactly what happens doesn't seem to diminish my enjoyment at all. In fact, it seems like with every re-experience I pick up some new detail or insight.
OTOH I can totally understand spoiler alerts with respect to sport and sporting-type events (like politics). It usually does seem to diminish the pleasure of watching a game when you know the outcome.
I always err on the side of "it's a spoiler". If it's not in the show's trailer, I treat it like a spoiler.
I know that I'm personally much more sensitive to spoilers than a lot of other people, so it always annoys me how somebody says something thinking they're not spoiling anything without fully thinking through the implications of what it is they're saying. It's almost arrogance, really, to simply assume that you know what will and will not spoil some given experience for another person.
It's worth remembering that the "Revenue" number would count bitcoins twice if they were used in two transactions. If bitcoins used to buy something on the site were then used by the seller to buy something else, the revenue would be twice the total bitcoins used.
> Today, those specific, articulable facts take the form of sweeping generalizations that officers assure us are based on their “training and experience.” This phrase comes from the Evidence Code section stating the sources an expert can use to form their “expert opinion” in court. Today, police are taught to repeat this phrase on the witness stand when they want the court to take their bullshit speculations and generalizations as actual evidence.
Well, I read the PDF and every statement of something based on "training and experience" seemed completely reasonable. What it means is "this is so obvious I shouldn't need to prove it". Maybe this is abused at times, but not here.
He posted a question about connecting to a Tor hidden service with PHP on Stack Overflow. He didn't realize it puts your full name next to the question (and he had signed up with his real name), so literally 1 minute after posting the question, he changed his full name to a "pseudonymous username". He then changed his SO registration information from firstname.lastname@gmail to a fake name at a fake server.
> …so literally 1 minute after posting the question, he changed his full name to a "pseudonymous username".
If this is true then how did they catch it? Does SO keep records of all name changes? Did they give that info to the FBI? Do the FBI scrape SO and save all versions of the data? Was this data collected from PRISM?
They probably literally just scanned-in a printout of it. Likely they do this to avoid the issues of improper PDF redactions that got famous a few years ago. Do the redaction on real paper (or not) and just always scan it in, and it's nearly foolproof. And trust me, we get a lot of fools in the government. ;)
I just read through it. They introduce a lot of evidence from their forensic analysis of the Silk Road servers, but they don't seem to explain how they got access to the servers. Did anyone find that in there?
I thought the name Ross Ulbricht sounded familiar... turns out I had lunch with him a few years ago when he was working on a startup selling books online. I had some experience in the area, and he reached out to me after getting my contact details through a friend. He emailed me from firstname.lastname@example.org, we made arrangements, had lunch and discussed selling books. That was the only time we met, and I've never heard from or of him since.
It's known that the FBI and DEA get help from the NSA on high profile investigations, and they sometimes look at people 2 or 3 degrees of separation from their main person of interest.
Given what we've learned in the last few months about the government's intelligence apparatus, it seems I can reasonably assume that my emails, texts, phone call history etc. have all been scrutinized because I was in this guys email history. And it's not unreasonable to wonder if the same can be said of anybody I've ever emailed, or chatted with on facebook etc. because that's only 2 degrees of separation.
While I don't think the government will be scooping me up in a black van or kicking my doors in over this, I wouldn't be remotely surprised if I get special attention from the TSA next time I'm going through an airport because now I'm on some list.
I guess this is what it means to live in a surveillance state. Having to be afraid of what this might mean for myself, and for my friends and family, because I once exchanged a couple of emails with a guy who years later got into some very shady things.
Most of the US tech industry is probably 2 or 3 degrees from each other on linkedin. I'm a 3rd degree connection to this guy I've never met. I'm probably a 3rd degree connection to Bill Gates, Barak Obama and Marissa Mayer too.
The TSA is not scary compared to US customs although.
These are not standard parts to the image, based on previous seizures. (though I'll admit those all were clear-web seizures that just took over the DNS and resolved back to a gov controlled IP hosting a image - here the image is hosted on-site).
So there is a chance that this is DPR's "dead-man" script running after DPR was not able to communicate with the site for X hours.
It's hard to tell if the actual site (with it's data) has been taken over or compromised.
There is also the possibility it's only the onion domain-name that has been taken, though I'm not sure how TOR/ONION works (if that's possible without access to the server).
In any way, I hope that none of you used a plain-text (vs a PGP'ed one) home address for your recent orders, nor have any tracking #s lingering in messages from the vendors in your accounts. If I recall correctly, messages are deleted after 30 days. But who knows what type of backups where maintained.
It will be intresting to see if -
1. There are admins that have access to the data + site that can get it back up and operational.
2. The forums (which are still working) will produce another site.
3. BMR (BlackMarketReloaded) and another one I'm not familiar with called Sheeps Market will continue to operate and/or pick up the majority of SR's business.
...and also if the DEA and FBI will go after the users (and not just the vendors) that they can find enough "conspiracy to commit" evidence on to make a point.
Tor .onion addresses work by signing a message to a gateway with your RSA-1024 private key, while the actual address is the first half of SHA-1 of the public key.  So you have to brute force 80 bit to find a collision for a specific hidden service and you need to break RSA-1024 to actually impersonate a .onion hidden service. In the light of recent news, both seems to be borderline possible. But as far as I understand, brute forcing a SHA collision would lead to strange error messages or some people who can see the original and some who see the FBI version. Since no one reported anything like this, they would need to brute force the RSA key pair for SR in order to hijack the domain.
For the other two possibilities, why would DPR's dead man switch pretend to be a FBI note instead of a 'dead man warning,' especially since a hoax FBI message would immediately destroy SR? So I would assume that the FBI managed to get the actual hardware.
While that would let you 'impersonate' a hidden service, you would have to hope the actual hidden service goes down because otherwise the HSDir servers will point requests to the proper host and requests will be encrypted to their key
AFAIR there is nothing in TOR that prevents races between two servers trying to get a specific .onion address. So my understanding is, that a collision ( or a broken RSA private key) would put the HSDir into a inconsistent state. And in this case, some people would get the real server and some people would get the impersonated server. ( Additionally TOR hopefully warns if the public key of a hidden server suddenly changes.)
I have not read it yet, but from what others have quoted, it looks like a disk image was made and handed over in July. Nothing else.
The disk image would of course contain the heavily encrypted data of SR (wallets, transactions, messages).
So unless the private key was on the server right next to the public key (AKA the Linode Incident), or the site did not encrypt that data (which goes against what we have seen so far), the disk image would not compromise that much.
His linkedin page is pretty transparent if you know anything about him
"Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. The most widespread and systemic use of force is amongst institutions and governments, so this is my current point of effort. The best way to change a government is to change the minds of the governed, however. To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force."
No, that would be anarchism. Part of what distinguishes libertarianism from anarchism is that it does acknowledge the utility of a government, and very few libertarians would deny one of its primary, legitimate duties is public safety.
Do not mistake believing that our current government (which is, might I add, the single largest entity in the history of man; sorry, it isn't that bizarre to think that it might just be a teensy bit too large, despite people's best efforts to somehow cast this as a crazy idea) is too large with thinking that the correct amount of government is zero.
Anarchism does not necessarily mean that and is not incompatible with libertarianism. Anarchism simply means "no ruler" -- everyone has the same rights. A libertarian anarchist condemns coercion and the initiation of force for all. Small government libertarians condemn the use of force and coercion for private individuals (e.g. robbery), but see no problem when the state commits the same acts (e.g. taxation).
Sure, an anarchist society could determine everyone has the right to murder/rob/etc., but our problems are bad enough when it's only the government robbing and murdering people (legitimately). I can't imagine why a society would decide it's OK for everyone!
>> art of what distinguishes libertarianism from anarchism is that it does acknowledge the utility of a government, and very few libertarians would deny one of its primary, legitimate duties is public safety.
Public safety to me means guaranteed housing, education, healthcare, and sustenance.
Arguably stretching "safety" I would also include prevention of the concentration of power (i.e. wealth) and exploitation by capitalists (i.e. those significant portion of the real assets of the world).
Everyone wants public safety, even Anarchists. It is a nothing statement. Beliefs vary in how to achieve it. Most libertarians* would want public safety to be outsourced to private sector so it supposedly would be ruled by a free market.
*To be clear, I refer to the people (mostly from USA) who call them selves libertarians. Whose beliefs have only superficial similarity with historically Libertarianism.
Systemic (not systematic) means "of or related to a system". This is not, strictly, governments. It can be any system from the ad hoc (Occupy movement) to the deliberately constructed (governments, corporations). It can be social systems, economic systems, anything.
Systemic use of force, then, is a situation where the use of force against some parties is inherently part of the system. Whether it be physical, legal with threat of physical, emotional force or violence.
If the particular economic sphere he's running in relies on violence (based on my experience in Las Vegas in the 90s, I'd say the drug world is one such system), then this isn't libertarian free market at its best, it's just the systemic use of force typical of the illicit drug industry.
That's more the anarcho-capitalist wing of libertarianism. Overall libertarian is a pretty broad term. It can range from states-rights folks, to people that just want a smaller federal government, to people that want virtually no government at all. The NAP is not at all a common thread in that group. The primary thing that seems to bind them is a generally strict interpretation of the US Constitution, and where they differ is on how they interpret various sections. Some are almost like Christian fundamentalists, they just want the strict text of the Constitution. Others are more like conservative Roman Catholics, the strict text along with the other writings contemporary to its development (to frame the interpretation).
I agree that that's a problem, one that I want to see get more play in the popular press so people will stop ignoring it. And I do, primarily via voting for candidates that never seem to win (I have few options in this region), try to do something regarding the prison system and would like to see many activities decriminalized. smokeyj's post, however, is somewhat hyperbolic in its tone and I wondered if they had anything else in mind. Reminds me too much of my "The South will rise again!" coworkers.
So he's a hypocrite and/or got corrupted by money and fear...not saying he is a good person, just that in retrospect his linkedin page is pretty transparent to confirm who he is and what he's doing based on his market anarchist writings posted under the DPR name, etc
If you're running a private criminal enterprise bringing in millions of dollars, why would you risk drawing attention to yourself by putting you manifesto on LinkedIn allowing them to xref your crazy with your lack of unemployment?
Well, once you know, then it's 'obvious', just like a good murder mystery is obvious in retrospect. But that's hindsight bias talking. If you don't know that he's DPR, he just comes off as another libertard, of which there must be hundreds of thousands online.
What baffles me is why the FBI would shut it down and let this information out when they could have just sat there and collected information on crime after crime. Was the impetus because of the violence alluded to in communications? I know that if they are watching the mafia and they intercept a message about a homicide they have, in the past, notified the intended target.
Either way, intriguing story. If it's true he's really up shit's creek. And I have no problem with that, if it's true. An old 'hood motto: I'm not the law, break it, I don't care. But when you get caught, remember that I don't care.
The FBI's paymasters are ultimately elected by the public, who mostly prefer the FBI to pursue one high profile kingpin reportedly linked with violent crime rather than all of their neighbours who made the mistake of experimenting with online drug orders.
I'm not but usually in a case where a bunch of suspects are rounded up they will announce the sting operation publicly to make sure everyone knows they are on the job. I assumed they didn't because the FBI was built on publicity and it's part of their institution. But you might be right, they may be doing this to just shake the tree or they've already moved on people.
His actions were so sloppy (according to the evidence listed) that even if was living somewhere else, they would have found him. And places that'd make it really hard for the USG to prosecure are not places that you'd want to live in the first place.
He should have operated as if he lived on the DEA's front lawn.
In previous postings DPR has indicated he inherited the site from the original owner, it would be funny if he knew they were closing in and sent the phony papers to the first DPR in an effort to give himself some time to escape.
I wonder if the timing on this is deliberate. The office that handles FOIA requests is part of the government shutdown, but the three-letter agencies aren't. So the only information that's going to come out on this for the time being is whatever the people running the investigation want to come out...
Maybe it's not deliberate, but keep that in mind. There's going to only one source on this story for a long time.
As I've said for the past few years, he essentially fucked himself.
1) using a low latency onion routing network, rather than a mixnet like an anonymous remailer or other 1990s blacknet, was a big problem. You could maybe get away with throwaway front end nodes as a web interface, stateless, to package up transactions, run by third parties, but for long running anonymity vs traffic analysis or server compromise, low latency bidirectional connections are impossible.
2) repeatedly sticking his dick into the hornet nest by provoking the FBI in the press
3) remaining in the USA while doing all of this
Acting in ways which make him a less sympathetic defendant (connection to assassinations? Really?) doesn't help
Interesting. He apparently lived in San Francisco in the Mission and rented a room for $1000/month. For someone who should have had $80 million in profit, that seems a bit strange. I suppose cashing out $80 million in bitcoin and then laundering must be incredibly difficult.
Not totally surprising since SR was mentioned before Congress over a year ago, and some leaked documents mentioned ongoing investigation. I've been telling people it's just a matter of time before it's shut down and that you should stockpile now before it's too late.
Let's hope SR hasn't been keeping any real identifying transaction records, or I bet we'll see a spate of high-profile arrests from tech companies.
Now the question is who will step in to fill his shoes. How much of Silk Road's infrastructure is open and reusable? The market has been created, the users exist - they'll be looking for a replacement.
Of course, after this I think most would-be entrepreneurs might be having second thoughts.
Atlantis Market was spun up not to long ago, including a full length animated commercial for the site. Many believe it was just an elaborate honey pot ran by law enforcement to entrap users, and it failed to gain any adoption.
Black Market Reloaded is where most of the SR users will go.
We released code for a Bitcoin market yesterday, opened it up to the community. The code is good, tested, and is now OS. So have at it. I think that Bitcoin has had enough press in recent months that there is enough traction for a few more companies to really make legitimate marketplaces if they can build the infrastructure. Hopefully the Coinpost project provides them with that. https://github.com/brighton36/CoinPost
Damn, and I was this close to ordering some LSD from SR a few weeks ago. I've never tried it and was thinking about giving it a shot. Guess it's a good thing work sent me out of town, and I decided to wait, then got distracted and never got around to it.
Still, this is disappointing. As a libertarian / ancap / voluntaryist / whatever-you-want-to-call-me, I totally support the Silk Road and other unregulated marketplaces.
That'd only be a problem if he had been stupid enough to send his LSD vendor his name & address in the clear. The whole point of buyers encrypting their info to the seller's key was to avoid problems if LE attacked the server.
Yeah, I definitely would not be sending anything like that in the clear. Not knowingly, anyway! Funny thing though, I held off due to random shit that came up, not even anything to do with all the NSA/Snowden/Intelligence/Whatever stuff. And during those couple of weeks, is when all the FBI/Tor stuff broke, and that did serve to give me a little bit of pause. But I still probably would have made an order, except I got busy doing stuff and just never got around to it.
I'd be tempted to try one of the alternatives, but now I'm worried that one or more of them might be LE honeypots or something.
Damnit, what's a hacker to do, who just wants to try acid once before he dies? Sheesh. :-(
I wouldn't even know where a rave is happening around here. I'm totally not plugged into that scene at all. Hell, I don't even know if we have a rave scene around here (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC).
Add in the fact that I'm so busy with this startup + consulting part-time, that I never have time to go to music events, I decided to just go the "easy way" and use SR. And then I didn't. And now it looks like it might have been a good thing that I didn't. Heh.
The traditional method of catching drug kingpins has been to flip the lower-levels of the organization until you can finally stick something on the leader. Here, the feds were able to go straight to the source.
I'd expect more prosecutions of SR's larger vendors as part of the fallout. If I were one of those vendors, I'd be ordering dust filter for my Hoover MaxExtract PressurePro model 60.
I think the pseudo-anonymity that Tor, Bitcoin, and computers in general can provide gave DPR too much confidence. But like every other ringleader who has been caught, a new one will take over and play the game smarter.
Is anyone else surprised that it took this long to shut it down? With all the surveillance that has been in the news, I assumed Silk Road was entirely operated in a foreign country which didn't have good information exchange relations with the US.
No matter what the precautions someone takes, my bet is that they will eventually get caught if they engage in illegal activity online.
I assume it's because they want the SEO juice and Google frowns on showing different content to the Googlebot vs a human being, but they also want their users to make more connections. So, they sometimes show more content to logged-out visitors.
Not just because of SEO, although that's one reason. Logged in users are already sold on LinkedIn, so LinkedIn wants to encourage them to make more connections. The aim for guest visitors is to get them to sign-up, so showing them a more useful page is a better way of showing what value LinkedIn can offer them.
Rather than simply have a "looking for hitman" service, DPR would have been wise to have an Assassination Market (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_market). It's much harder to assign criminal liability in these types of prediction markets, and given that transactions in SR were denominated in bitcoins, it may have been an interesting way to cover his tracks.
If you were running a massive online black market that can be set up and operated from anywhere in the world and making 80mm in commissions, wouldn't it make sense to not only set up the servers outside the US but also fly out of the US to a country with no extradition treaty with the US and low law enforcement cooperation with the US. By doing so, they have committed all crimes outside US jurisdiction. Near as I can tell this means that no crime they are charged with should stick, however IANAL.
Can anyone elaborate if it is possible to manage a site like this in a way where all actions associated with its operation never constitute crimes prosecutable in the US?
Would blocking all US IP ranges be sufficient even though it is served over TOR. Seems like that would meet the same bullshit requirement the NSA is using when it retains all traffic from outside the country.
Did anyone think this could go on? It's not just about narcotics, this is about the government's ability to regulate and tax. The US government has refined its ability to tax so well that, if you make a large amount of money illegally, you still need to pay taxes on it (e.g. laundering). This has been the case since before computers enabled massive surveillance. That's incredible!
I can imagine that, had the Silk Road specialized in consumer goods and threatened to become popular, then it'd have been brought down much, much faster.
The government still exists, but there's no legal authority for many (but not all) of the federal employees to do work for the government, since there is no appropriation in force to pay for that work.
Those who are working are essentially working for the promise of payment at some indefinite time in the future (except for the military, who apparently really are a sacred cow...).
Government employee here. Many of us aren't working on the promise of payment - we've already been paid. My salary was already "paid" two years ago. Congress passed a bill, the president signed it, and the DOE gave us the money. Now, if the government shutdown lasts until May, we'll probably be out of that money then I'd stop receiving paychecks. Of course, I hope to have a new job by that point, anyway.
Are you a government employee, or a contractor? I know that there are some persons paid for by multi-year appropriation bills, but those are comparatively rare. Most expenditures are handled via a single-FY appropriation (and my understanding is that this covers all APF employees).
If you're a contractor, on the other hand, then you're not a government employee (legally), so the whole discussion doesn't apply to you directly.
Government shutdowns are done in a way that retains a certain subset of services that are either paid for through unaffected funding mechanisms, or have been designated essential. That includes soldiers' salaries, payments to military contractors, operations of the FBI and DEA, and small to medium-sized portions of other agencies (e.g. the EPA is mostly shut down, but the Superfund and Mine Safety divisions will stay open).
I've never used the road, but rather I fear it was central to the high value of Bitcoins. I would love to be wrong but I can see my investment dropping and I don't have the guts to sell back into fiat.
The servers are still hidden, it's simply proxy software that trades user anonimity for convenience (and speed I believe, since the tor2web software uses fewer tor relays in its circuits, not trying to be anonymous)
OK, just for the sake of argument, let's assume the FBI (with the help of the NSA friends, or otherwise) have "broken" Tor in some sense. Whether it's by controlling enough nodes to do traffic analysis, or a fundamental flaw in the software, or a backdoor or whatever.
Given that, if you were going to run a SR like site, are any of the other anonymizing networks of various sorts (Freenet, I2P, whatever) a valid alternative? And would any of those deals be better than Tor in any meaningful way?
The criminal complaint says that he used the same username to publicize the site as well as on Bitcoin forums, where he listed his Gmail account and asked for help. From there, there's a whole lot of coincidences.
They also got an image of his server, but no details on how they found the server are given. The complaint notes that another user warned him "an external IP is leaking", so the FBI might have found a weakness in his PHP setup. All it'd take is one command on the server...
It's unclear what is happening and this may be a prank. The initial reports that the FBI had seized the domain appear to be a sarcastic "down for maintenance" page on the part of Silk Road. I've yet to find a real source on the alleged arrest of
1. I've never felt TOR was secure. I think the American
government knows exactly how to track down a suspicious
2. I think they left SR alone, because they have bigger
concerns-- terrorism, foreign surveillance? They still want
the world to think VPN's are private?
3. If you can't make money in this system-- I understand.
I don't think I've every met a wealthy person who wasen't
a psychopathic hypocrite--usually with a very advanced degree. I live among these hypocrites, and it's nauseating.
I won't even start on how many parasitic people in Marin
County start up nonprofits, and no one bothers to find
out how much they make--all legal.
4. If you are going to do something that could land you
in jail Don't Tell Anyone What You Are Doing. That includes
the person you bed with......
5. Never take advantage of the poor, animals, children, or
the environment. It's pathetic I needed to make a list, but
some of you repress what you are doing.
I notice it's stated that around 3.6 million USD worth of bitcoins were seized in the arrest, taken from Silk Road's wallets. Am I correct in assuming that because it came from SR's wallet it was the escrow fund? The FBI complaint posted earlier states the escrow fund held around 2.2 million USD at some earlier date (page 15). Why aren't they mentioning the ~80 million USD generated in commisions? I can only assume because it was not seized.
I get the accusations of money laundering and narco-trafficking, but where are the computer hacking accusations coming from? I didn't see anything in the complaint that specifically alleged deliberate intrusions into any systems. Does this mean Justice is going to accuse him of computer hacking because he hired virtual servers and used them to run a criminal market place? That would sound like a stretch of hacking laws, right? What am I missing?
> Any word on whether we can expect customers and sellers to be hunted down?
So far the known tally, from reading the forums & Reddit, is: a SR employee (arrested, unknown), DPR (arrested, charged), a UK vendor (arrested, probably won't be charged), and a WA vendor (arrested, charged). If anyone knows of other arrests/charges/convictions, please tell me. I've been trying to maintain a complete list at http://www.gwern.net/Silk%20Road#safe
Most plausible outcome I've heard is that the Feds will only pursue high-volume users, either vendors, or buyers who intended to distribute. Buyers for personal use wouldn't be worth the trouble, though I think they could just distribute that info to local LE.
There is definitely missing information how the actual server was compromised. Without that, a lot of the evidence wouldn't be possible. It seems likely that eventually a SR type service cannot be stopped. The theory is there, the market is there, just the implementation remains.
Freenet does not have such problems as Tor. That's because the informaton is distributed around the entire network and accessed via a DHT. So there is no need for onion routing nor is there one host to take down. All people can be arrested for is running the program, if it can be proven that they did.
With respect to the references to FriendlyChemist, why didn't the government charge him with attempted murder on top of his other charges? I'm no lawyer, so my understanding of criminal law is limited. Is it likely the government will add additional charges when this goes to trial?
Sorry to be rude, but did you read that link before posting it?
" In an 8–0 ruling on Simon & Schuster v. Crime Victims Board, the court ruled the law unconstitutional. The majority opinion was that the law was overinclusive, and would have prevented the publication of such works as The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, and even The Confessions of Saint Augustine."
If they want to get you, they will. Reading how they got him, but I wouldn't be surprised if NSA handed them the info informally and then the FBI had to find another way to justify it. When you know the end results, "connecting the dots" is much easier. Parallel construction http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/08/05/us-dea-sod-idUKBRE9... and all.
I'm not sure one way or the other, and while it's clear that Ulbright was fairly sloppy, there are a few instances of serendipity:
1. The agent randomly (?) stumbling on a LinkedIn profile which matched the timeline/description of the Silkroad project, which prompted to seek another unidentified agent which had all kinds of juicy deets on the suspect.
2. CBP intercepted a package addressed to Ulbright containing a bunch of counterfeit official documents during a "routine border search".
3. Found Tor/PHP/curl-related posts on Stackoverflow from his real name account, but also says he changed his name/email to a fake one. Did they happen to stumble on it before he changed his name? Or had some kind of access to an earlier archive? Or cooperation from Stackoverflow? Unclear.
I'll update more as I run into them. Super interesting read.
Still, it's clear that they've done a ton of research on Silkroad and DPR. The notes are thorough and accurate. A job well done.
I think that the main slip-up was the use of the same account on BitcoinTalk to both promo SR and to post his personal Gmail account to try to hire Tor experts. Everything else listed above sounded like it either came chronologically after that discovery (the CBP intercept) or it was a result of that discovery (the StackOverflow and LinkedIn accounts)
> 1. The agent randomly (?) stumbling on a LinkedIn profile which matched the timeline/description of the Silkroad project, which prompted to seek another unidentified agent which had all kinds of juicy deets on the suspect.
Sounds like parallel construction to give them a legal way to introduce evidence.
I'd imagine the NSA has crawlers that can parse LinkedIn profiles enough to make good guesses on who is likely to be involved in hacking, criminal entrepreneurship, etc., and to pull out relevant dates and other indications of ideological shifts or large secret projects. Cross-reference with banking records to show when someone is unemployed for a long time and yet still has unexplained funds... DPR was probably on a reasonably short list.
The curl part is also pretty shoddy btw. Would you really use curl to setup a server running behind TOR? I don't have adequate 'training and experience', but it seems natural that website working through TOR should use normal web server software behind some sort of reverse proxy, not curl. He, whoever, wrote that document, seems to imply that questions about curl and TOR network are necessarily connected with running a website through it. He also doesn't mention dates of the questions.
The curl code was probably for querying the latest exchange rates from Mt Gox. It's important he made sure those queries went out through TOR because otherwise they could be used to trace the Silk Road server.
It occurs to me: a great tool of a "know everything" government is the ability to exclude dots, leaving the dots which merely need connecting. Just like the sculptor's aphorism "I just remove everything that isn't the subject, and there it is", a near-omniscient police force can address a crime by eliminating everyone it knows wasn't involved (by their near-continuous presence on metadata, cell tower triangulation, security cameras, etc.), eliminating everywhere it knows the remaining 'dots' couldn't have been, and eliminating every action it knows couldn't have been performed ... leaving a very limited "negative space" for the inferred suspects to operate in. A lot of data to mine, but given NSA-levels of awareness, NSA et al could respond (legally!) to requests for information with a vast list of who/what/where wasn't involved, leaving a conspicuous implication of the guilty.
Ah, so the NSA's spying does have positive effects. It helped capture a drug king-pin who hires hitmen. I'd believed that dragnet capture of Internet traffic presents problems in trying to isolate relevant evidence, but you claim that this is not an issue.
This certainly bolsters the claim that the NSA's surveillance is doing society good. I'm not comfortable with that, but there it is.
No seriously, the whole parallel construction dialogue for NSA feeding DEA tips is exactly the situation suggested here. Why do you equate published journalism with hoaxes and factually devoid crazies. It is insulting to a fairly civil discussion.
Well, we know the NSA is behind some things, or else it wouldn't exist.
We also know this is an incredibly high profile case. It's in the interests of the DEA and FBI to lean on their contacts in the NSA, even.
That said, the FBI is very good at what it does, and finding this sort of thing isn't just what the FBI does, it's what any investigator does. (I have personal experience with this area that I can't disclose, but trust me, everyone knows how to link usernames between websites.)
The most interesting part was trying to decipher what was got cleanly and what was got with PRISM.
Stackoverflow is one not specifically mentioned as "obtained records from" just that those actions happened on stackoverflow. Non-public actions. Also why would stackoverflow keep a record about each username and email change, but not IP and access times? They never mentioned how he connected to SO or if he masked it. BUT they mentioned that in every other case.
I imagine they had access to his gmail account and StackOverflow emailed him when he changed his account information. I would bet that the StackOverflow information came after they identified his gmail account (which had his full name in it!).
Had he not made some pretty amateur mistakes (like using his real email) he probably wouldn't have been caught. My guess is that email address is what lead to his downfall. Without a target the FBI wouldn't have much to investigate.