Silk Road 2.0' Raid Leads to Federal Seizure of Hundreds of Servers
According to a new report from USA Today, a coalition of British and
American digital security forces has arrested multiple individuals and shut
down more than 400 websites tied to the black market trading service known as
Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 2.0, named for the ancient trade route that extended
from Africa to Asia, is said to have been operated by Blake Benthall. Benthall,
a 26 year old American living in San Francisco, is charged with conspiracy to
commit computer hacking, conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, money
laundering, and conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents.
Conviction on these charges could result in Benthall serving a life sentence.
"Silk Road 2.0" is Just One Site in a Deep, Dark World of Criminality
Silk Road 2.0, used for the sale of huge quantities of illegal narcotics and prescription drugs, is just one of the seemingly endless number of websites that make up the Dark Web. As defined by the BBC, the Dark Web is a little-known part of the internet that relies on private server enclosures which are linked together to form their own massive network. As aforementioned, federal officers seized and shut down more than 400 sites that made up the Silk Road network, which were spread across a yet to be revealed number of computer server racks across the world. Depending on your perspective, Silk Road 2.0 is a comparatively moral operation, given that the Dark Web is said to have hundreds if not thousands of sites tied together in networks that traffic in human bondage, images of child abuse, and worse.
Dark Web Rack Computers' Anonymity is a Huge Hurdle
What makes the seizure and closure of Silk Road 2.0 such a win is that it's very rare for anyone to actually track down the computer server racks and their human operators which control these criminal empires. The biggest problem is that these black market merchants use a program called Tor to anonymize their server racks and cabinets, effectively making them untraceable geographically. According to Wired's story on Silk Road's demise, this might be the first time anyone has broken through Tor's technology; unsurprisingly, government officials are not releasing any information on how such a feat was accomplished.