Overview[edit | edit source]

Silk Road was an online market. It is operated as a Tor hidden service, such that online users are able to browse it anonymously and securely without potential traffic monitoring.

Silk Road achieved anonymity by operating on the hidden Tor network and accepting only bitcoins for payment. Using bitcoins as the exclusive currency on Silk Road allowed purchasers and sellers to further conceal their identity, since senders and recipients of peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin transactions are identified only by the anonymous bitcoin address/account. Moreover, users can obtain an unlimited number of bitcoin addresses and use a different one for each transaction, further obscuring the trail of illicit proceeds. Users can also employ additional "anonymisers," beyond the tumbler service built into Silk Road transactions.[1]

The website was launched in February 2011. Development had begun six months earlier. It is part of the Deep web. Although Silk Road is an underground website, sometimes called the "Amazon.com of illegal drugs" or the "eBay for drugs," the site also sells apparel, art, biotic materials, books, collectibles, computer equipment, digital goods, along with dozens of other categories of merchandise.

In September 2013 federal agents seized the Silk Road site, and in October 2013 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Ross William Ulbricht (known as Dread Pirate Roberts). He had received over $13 million in commissions from sales on the Silk Road. While the Silk Road was primarily used to sell illegal drugs, it also offered digital goods, including malicious software and pirated media; forgeries, including fake passports and Social Security cards; and services, such as computer hacking.

The FBI estimated that the Silk Road marketplace had processed more than $1.2 billion in sales by July 2013 involving 150,000 anonymous customers and around 4,000 vendors. In May 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison for a series of federal crimes related to his black market activities in operating Silk Road.

References[edit | edit source]

Source[edit | edit source]

External resources[edit | edit source]

  • "Tor and the Silk Road takedown" (full-text).
  • U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, "Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats, and Promises of Virtual Currencies," 113th Cong., 1st Sess. (Nov. 18, 2013).


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