Silk Road Reloaded, an important development in the world of black markets

Pierluigi Paganini January 13, 2015

The newborn Silk Road Reloaded black marketplace adopts I2P Anonymous Network and different virtual currency scheme to protect illegal business.

The Operation Onymous conducted by law enforcement allowed the seizure of dozens of black markets on Tor Networks. While all the underground marketplaces in the DeepWeb, including Silk Road 2.0, went down due to the operation of the police, new marketplaces is trying to profit for the situation, like ‘Evolution’.

Obviously the cybercrime is continuing its illegal activities, dor example the popular “Silk Road Reloaded” is online again and implements new anonymizing features, including I2P connectivity and the the possibility to pay for the goods.

The new version of Silk Road marketplace, called Silk Road Reloaded, relies on the I2p anonymous network instead the Tor network, and allows  payments with several virtual currencies, , including Bitcoin, Darkcoin, Dogecoin, and Anoncoin.

Silk Road Reloaded

“I2P is an anonymous overlay network – a network within a network. It is intended to protect communication from dragnet surveillance and monitoring by third parties such as ISPs.” states the official website of the project.

Basically, I2P adopt peer-to-peer connections by design and was developed to maintain hidden the execution of an application on the nodes of the network.

“I2P is a scalable, self organizing, resilient packet switched anonymous network layer, upon which any number of different anonymity or security conscious applications can operate“”

Silk Road Reloaded isn’t the unique black marked hosted on the I2P network, “TheMarketplace”, which is another popular marketplace in the underground community uses the same network.

The official website of the I2P project provide a clear explanation of the primary differences between Tor and I2P:

“Tor and Onion Routing are both anonymizing proxy networks, allowing people to tunnel out through their low latency mix network. The two primary differences between Tor / Onion-Routing and I2P are again related to differences in the threat model and the out-proxy design (though Tor supports hidden services as well). In addition, Tor takes the directory-based approach – providing a centralized point to manage the overall ‘view’ of the network, as well as gather and report statistics, as opposed to I2P’s distributednetwork database and peer selection.

The I2P/Tor outproxy functionality does have a few substantial weaknesses against certain attackers – once the communication leaves the mixnet, global passive adversaries can more easily mount traffic analysis. In addition, the outproxies have access to the cleartext of the data transferred in both directions, and outproxies are prone to abuse, along with all of the other security issues we’ve come to know and love with normal Internet traffic.

However, many people don’t need to worry about those situations, as they are outside their threat model. It is, also, outside I2P’s (formal) functional scope (if people want to build outproxy functionality on top of an anonymous communication layer, they can). In fact, some I2P users currently take advantage of Tor to outproxy.” states the post of the official project website.

Silk Road Reloaded, like its predecessors Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, offers drugs, counterfeit money and hacking tools, but seems not sell neither weapons nor stolen credit card data.

“This lack of weapons and stolen data may be due to the site owner’s apparent political beliefs: it appears that the site owners subscribe to the same libertarian motivations that inspired the original Silk Road. “Who are we? Ones who care about true freedom, self-ownership and self-possesion. Yes believe it or not you own yourself,” the site reads.” reads Motherboard.

Also for Silk Road Reloaded, the manager of the online black market monetize their efforts by taking a small fee (1%) on the transactions.

“All functions are completely enabled and fully functional,” says a message on the site, posted today. “Sample data is being removed. Current vendor(s) your products will show shortly. Thank you all for making the site launch a success!” continues Motherboard.

Silk Road Reloaded also include a forum for its users, and a built-in messaging system.

At the time of writing, the newborn website appears still ’empty’ by security experts believe that will soon reach the popularity of other black markets.

Silk Road Reloaded represents an important milestone in the evolution of marketplaces because demonstrates that criminals crews are exploring alternatives to sell illegal products and services in the total anonymity.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Silk Road Reloaded, black markets)

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