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.
Here's the part I don't understand:
* A user friendlychemist threatens DPR.
* DPR asks friendlychemist to refer his "supplier" to DPR.
* redandwhite says he was "asked to contatct" DPR by friendlychemist and friendlychemist owes redandwhite money
* DPR asks for a hit from redandwhite on friendlychemist
That makes zero sense to me. Why would you assume those two users are not the same person or aren't at least allies?
* DPR was ready to pay friendlychemist upto $150K
* 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.
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).
Toy version of the conversation.
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.
Edit: Nevermind! Apparently the 80k "hit" wasn't just a negotiation technique: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bal-sil...
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.
And anybody else who thought they would try and blackmail money out him. It seems completely plausible scenario and kills two birds with one stone. No pun intended.
Along with five other countries.
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.
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"
EDIT: Or he was watching too much breaking bad and beginning to assume Heisenberg's characteristics after feeling invincible for earning $80MM
However, he went too far into his fantasy, and not too smartly, and he'll pay for it.
I just put in two spaces like the formatting guide said. But the whole thing ended being one line.
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!
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!
Shift-v starts line-by-line visual mode.
Ctrl-v starts visual column mode(which is both very cool and very useful)
Or startline,endline command: 10,20d
> 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.
This means you don't need to include any line breaks.
Almost an analog for "Walter White," who also made $80mm on his calamitous journey from "honest" meth-cooker to kingpin.
Payed off anyways but at the same time negotiated a discount and scared the guy into not trying it again.
This is corroborated by the fact that the FBI knew the name, date and city yet couldn't match it up to a real body.
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.
There's some interesting stuff in there, page 21 is the murder for hire scenario and 24 is where the agent explains how they identified DPR.
1. Canadian spies set up "FriendlyChemist", hack into another vendor and get extortion material on DPR
2. "FriendlyChemist" tells "RedandWhite" (obviously the same person/agency) to contact DPR
3. "RedAndWhite" extorts American based DPR to pay for a murder that mysteriously does not happen in Canada
4. DPR then (stupidly?) pays "RedAndWhite" for fake ID documents from Canada, which mysteriously get stopped at the border
5. US agency arrests DPR on delivery of Fake ID's
6. There is no chance of entrapment since:
- Based on the Nature of TOR, we can never prove that "FriendlyChemist/RedAndWhite" are a police force (karma)
- They are most likely not a domestic force, but were working covertly with US agencies (cannot be subpoenaed).
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).
Doesn't seem so impossibly far-fetched does it?
They'll stack the charges so high you a helicopter to see over 'em. He'll either plead it out and get fifty or fight it and get life. His choice.
If the federales have all of his assets, he ain't fighting nothing.
The police couldn't find a record of the alleged murder victim, so I'm guessing that "redandwhite" and "friendlychemist" were the same person, just playing a con on DPR to get some cash.
I took it to mean fast and relatively painless versus protracted suffering, i.e. "non-clean", messy.
Without the 'respectively', it's ambiguous whether the clean or non-clean were the cheaper of the two alternatives.
Clean: Traffic accident, apparent suicide, etc.
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.
That would be hazardous in my opinion. Now you have two places where you can place the preparator.
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.
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?
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."
Edit: but I'm waiting and reading with an open mind.
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.
If you're interested in a well-argued and entertainingly written outsiders' perspective on this, I recommend Matt Bruenig. Here's a starting point: http://www.demos.org/blog/8/21/13/fun-times-libertarianism
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.
I agree that it's a baffling world view though.
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.
And I thought the journalist that got his laptop seized at an airport was harshly treated...
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Edit: the excerpt quoted is from the (now unsealed) FBI complaint, first linked elsewhere in this thread: http://krebsonsecurity.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Ulbric.... The whole thing is pretty interesting reading.
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.
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 "email@example.com" 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
"firstname.lastname@example.org" (the "Ulbricht Gmail
Super interesting read!
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.
That may be; or maybe they just Parallel Constructed a proper looking investigative trail.
... 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.
edit and off-topic rant: I really hate searching government PDFs.
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!
I'm reading through it now, but it's still not 100% clarified how they originally determined the true IP and provider of the server. There are a myriad of different ways, though.
Linking to ancient bugs that were fixed a long time ago is pointless, every popular piece of server software would have bugs.
So, care to name five?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you please explain in detail how one would do this to a hidden service?
I'm trying to determine if you just don't understand how hidden services work, or have found an actual vulnerability that needs to be addressed.
The same goes for end users: http://www.ohmygodel.com/publications/usersrouted-ccs13.pdf
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.
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.
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.
1) Compromise a web server on Tor
2) Buy a zero day browser exploit, create payload to expose
data about endpoints and exits.
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.
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.
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.
Professional forensic investigators have what are called 'write blockers' that prevent all writes when drives are plugged in to be imaged.
Otherwise I could shred say some paper evidence, and the course would reject a taped-up copy that shows my original document. Which they wouldn't, of course.
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.
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.
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 interesting thing is that I haven't ever been served with a warrant. Which is weird, as I know much smaller competitors who have.
Of course, there's no reason why you should believe that statement.
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.
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.
Perhaps a coincidence, but that's ~10 days before the guy who ran the Freedom Hosting gig was busted.
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.
1) Located the first reference to "silk road" on the internet. You can find this yourself on Google:
"silk road" site:shroomery.org Date range: Jan 1,2011 - Jan 31,2011 *
2) The same username, "altoid", showed up on a bitcointalk days later.
3) Later in 2011 "altoid" made a post on bitcointalk with his email address, containing his real name, in it:
If you search the name on Google it doesn't show up, but if you look at the user's page you can see it in his posts.
That seems like more than enough for a warrant for this individual. Everything after that should be easy.
I've used Google before to locate when a particular word or phrase first appeared. Kind of surprising someone didn't figure this one out quicker.
* Obviously this is a common word, so either adding other keywords with it would be likely.
Having the world believe they can't reverse Tor would clearly be more valuable than having the world believe they can. Remember that Tor explicitly doesn't protect against a global passive adversary.
I'm betting a dozen entrepreneurs are looking at this right now thinking "I can do this better" and are designing their systems as this is happening.
All joking aside, I hope you're right, and that the next few SR alternative sites figure out how to get it right, and that Tor itself isn't fundamentally broken by the FBI.
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".)
The trust and review system, the search engine and the communication platform can all run independently and don't need to happen on the same platform.
The web interface can be provided by an open-source turn-key package, so the next DPRs only need to figure out the hosting.
Who are you talking about? Everywhere I look people are saying tor is certainly broken, the NSA is watching us, etc.
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.
> A: The road has more users, but our service is better (to put it bluntly).
> [...] We have automated PGP encryption of messages for the members who refuse to send their messages using PGP.
Black Market Reloaded is the odds-on favorite to be the new Silk Road.
Drugs are bad, mm'kay?
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!
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.
Google searches and reading some public forum threads... Staggering sophistication!
Someone asking for help on the bitcointalk forum for a new venture? Happens almost daily. Someone asking a question on SO about how to access Tor? Ditto.
You don't discover who "Dread Pirate Roberts" is from this. But you do discover these types of things pretty easily AFTER the NSA tells you who DPR is.
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.
And a few post below someone says:
> I'm interested Ross
Spy film discretion here.
That post was made today.
A warrant to keep "pulling the string", issuing subpoenas, and compelling production of evidence from those who might have it? Absolutely!
I assumed bitcointalk had a small member base when "altoid" joined. A quick look at their tables show 3,694 total new registered users through January 2011.
"altoid" registered on shroomery on January 27th 2011 and the "altoid" who revealed his name publicly registered on bitcointalk on January 29th 2011.
Found the BBC story about this, if you're interested.
Lesson learned, if trying to stay anonymous only use cat photos as profile pictures found on google images.
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.
Even when I take photos of interesting stuff, I'll find an alternate source rather than post mine.
Most people don't realize the government can have an army of people working 24/7 to track you down while you're busy trying to cover your tracks. The odds are never in your favor.
Also, having an active social media presence doesn't help either. lol
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.
I believe this guy is the second owner. If I recall correctly, the first guy did pretty much exactly what you said.
Given the information released today this claim seems to be false in every way.
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.
I guess the investigation stemming from the IDs was probably where it started to come together.