For the first time since its original incarnation’s launch in January 2011, Silk Road has been knocked off as the dark market’s leader. It now comes in third.
According to Vault 43, Evolution has 15,851 listings, Agora 15,522 and Silk Road a mere 11,025 listings.
“While our staff is the largest and most experienced in the darknet, we understand that marketplace diversity is a very good thing for our community,” says current leader of Silk Road, Defcon. “We already have a massive target on our foreheads from international press coverage. We welcome competitors.”
The reasons behind the loss of faith in the reincarnated are many. Some don’t like the inordinate media attention focused on Silk Road and have migrated to less high profile markets. Others favour Evolution’s multisig escrow, where instead of the funds being entrusted to one account controlled by the market, each transaction is paid into an agreed bitcoin wallet, which requires two of three keys, controlled by buyer, seller and marketplace, to release it. This prevents the temptation of a marketplace administrator to close up shop and abscond with the funds tied up in escrow.
Silk Road has been bombarded by problems this year, including an alleged hack that wiped out users’ accounts and a current sustained DDoS attack on the marketplace. The site currently offers no escrow at all, but is in beta testing of multisig escrow, on the way to public release this month.
“This attack is the most exhausting thing we have ever faced,” says Defon. “It is both psychological, with physical threats of real merit, and intellectual, with digial threats of true brilliance”.
Defcon claims he/she knows who is behind the attack: “A competitor does not like that we are repaying victims of our hack in Feburary and are still such a resillient community despite many setbacks”. On which competitor that might be, he says, “We know exactly who it is, but will not disclose as do not want a war.”
Defcon declares the site is about to announce that 100% of the coins stolen in the February hack will have been repaid once the site is back online.
On protecting the marketplace from future attacks, Defcon says, “Completely protecting a darknet service from DDoS is impossible, as we have no access to typical tracking information such as IP addresses. We take many approaches to shielding our infrastructure from attack, but each DDoS is very different. The defenses must always be more sophisticated than the attack, and this is a very sophisticated attack”.