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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Dark Web is Alive and Well

dark-web
The days of buying illegal drugs online are far from over, despite the founder and architect of the infamous Silk Road being sentenced to life in prison. The Silk Road was a “dark web” marketplace where drugs could be purchased anonymously using a form of currency called BitCoins. Two years ago, federal agents arrested the website’s founder Ross Ulbricht, and that may have been the end of illicit drug marketplaces lurking in the dark corners of the Internet - but it wasn’t!

When government agencies went after the Silk Road, dismantling it and imprisoning its architect, it only served to kill the competition. This allowed the smaller dark web marketplaces to flourish, exponentially increasing their sales. The example that was thought to be made by giving Ulbricht a life sentence did little to deter the others engaged in illegal dark web activity. In fact, it is now easier than ever to order illegal drugs online and await the arrival of a package from a legitimate parcel courier, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“It’s an idea, like social networking, that you wouldn’t think very much of until it happens. Then you can’t imagine people giving it up,” says Johns Hopkins University computer science professor Matthew Green. “The easiest way to think about Silk Road is to view it as a proof of concept for later darknet markets.”

“To this day, more than half of anonymous marketplaces implement websites that are directly derived from the template that Silk Road used, and from formatting all the way to policy, Silk Road invented the status quo that actors in this space have come to expect,” said Carnegie Mellon University researcher Kyle Soska, a doctoral candidate in electrical computer engineering.

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