Posts Tagged ‘hacking’

Fun fact: the proper technical term for dark web sites is hidden services. It’s easy to forget what this implies, but as I’ve been researching the past couple of months for a new book, I’ve been reminded of how the dark web is designed to work.

There's sites on the Dark Web you - and I - will never see

There’s sites on the Dark Web you – and I – will never see

When people ask what’s on the dark web, those who reply will tell them all about the sites that they found once they downloaded Tor and “went exploring” or “browsing” (usually from finding The Hidden Wiki and clicking on some links). Check out the 11,000 comments on this thread on Reddit to see what I mean. (And for something fabulously weird, somebody for some reason decided to narrate a comment I made)

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Last month a friend who had just started reading my book rang me almost hyperventilating. “It’s Landmark!” she said. “It’s fucking Landmark!”

Did DPR copy'n'paste for his charter?

Did DPR copy’n’paste for his charter?

She had noticed some startling similarities between the Landmark Forum’s 2020 Charter (which seems to have been superseded since it was written in the 90’s) and the Silk Road Charter, which is quoted at the beginning of the book. As a long-time member of Landmark (a “group awareness training seminar” that many have accused of having all the aspects of a cult), she recognised the words immediately. She followed up by email, and wrote:

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SSBD had no role to play in the Silk Road marketplace where drugs were bought and sold.  He was a moderator of the Silk Road discussion forum, which had its own URL and was hosted on a different server to the marketplace. So why is the US so determined to extradite someone who may or may not be him?

Peter Philip Nash has been sitting in a Brisbane jail cell since 20 December 2013.

He is facing extradition to the United States to face allegations of narcotics conspiracy (maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years); conspiracy to commit computer hacking (maximum 5 years) and money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

scales-of-injustice

According to the US Indictment, Nash was known online as “samesamebutdifferent”, better known to Silk Road members as SSBD. SSBD was a well-loved moderator of the now defunct Silk Road discussion forums (new forums, colloquially known as SR2, have replaced the old). His job was to answer questions, explain the rules, move posts to their proper forum (with over a million posts, many were bound to wind up in the wrong place) and generally attend to banal administrative tasks.

In any event, Nash may or may not be SSBD.  But even if he is. What exactly was SSBD’s crime?

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Since the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, allegedly Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts, conspiracy theories have been coming thick and fast and they range from the plausible to the absurd.

tin_foil_hat

A lot of them involve his friend Rene Pinnell, for whom Ulbricht relocated to San Francisco – either that Pinnell is the real DPR and set Ulbricht up for the fall right from the beginning, or they are in it together and will provide each other’s reasonable doubt. Then there’s the one that it’s all an ingenious ruse that is going to plan so that double jeopardy laws can be invoked later. Or it’s all a setup so law enforcement can be seen to have done something. Or there’s a good chance of parallel construction of evidence by the authorities.

I’m not much one for wearing a tinfoil hat, though I get a kick out of reading all the theories. But there has been something odd happening, which probably has a totally innocent explanation, but it’s a bit weird.

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If the Bitcointalk hackers are reading this, can you please let me know if I’m a lousy journo and missed the smoking gun, or if it was part of a deleted post?

I originally wrote the below in response to a lengthy, well thought-out comment by a reader on a previous blog about the changing face of Dread Pirate Roberts. But then I figured, why waste what became the length of a blog post in itself? So here is my comment, recycled and slightly amended.

I’ve been mulling over the conclusions I drew in my blog post a few weeks ago, “Which Pirate is That?” in light of revelations from the FBI documents following the arrest of Ross Ulbricht.  Clearly, if the FBI docs are accurate – the gmail address was linked to altoid in 2011 and they swooped on Ulbricht as he was logged in as DPR – then it looks like there was only ever one DPR.

Allegedly the previous 'nym of Dread Pirate Roberts

Allegedly the previous ‘nym of Dread Pirate Roberts

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Ever since the suspected DDoS attack in November, the admins at Silk Road have been combating a number of different scams and attacks on the site.

The Quickbuy Scam (see below) - this vendor's image has been hacked with a fake bitcoin address

The Quickbuy Scam (see below) – this vendor’s image has been hacked with a fake bitcoin address

It’s hard to tell whether this is a concerted attack by one group determined to piss the website off or each one is separate. The most pervasive ones have been:

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For two weeks, users of online drugs marketplace Silk Road have been unable to log in to the site more often than not, reporting timeouts, missing catchpas and other technical difficulties.  Millions of dollars in Bitcoin has been inaccessible to the site’s thousands of members and trading has halted.

Where’s my Bitcoins?

The reactions of the community have run the gamut from hopeful acceptance to threats of violence against the site’s owner, admins and other random anonymous people.  Amazon has stocked up on pitchforks and tinfoil hats as speculation on the forum has reached fever pitch.

Here are five of the theories for its temporary demise, in one easily-digestible blog:

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