[tor-talk] Silk Road taken down by FBI

Ted Smith tedks at riseup.net
Thu Oct 3 21:29:29 UTC 2013

On Thu, 2013-10-03 at 20:58 +0000, mirimir wrote:
> So they did have the server before they knew who he was. We also knew
> that he was sold out by his VPN provider. Hopefully, the identity of
> that VPN provider will come out soon.

I don't see evidence in your quote that implies that.

The section in the PDF (which I can't copy from because it's an un-OCR'd
scan) seems to indicate that:

      * they found the email address (which is the lowest-hanging fruit
        of all of this, given that it just involves a sophisticated web
        search for "silk road")
      * they found a human identity that they could subpoena email and
        financial records of from Google and his bank
      * they found VPNs and servers he had paid for.

I don't think it's a stretch to assume he used his personal gmail
address for buying a VPN or the server host, given that he was using it
to recruit developers.

Alternatively, the IP address of the VPN was already leaking (the PDF
states it was brought to Ulbricht's attention by a user), so the FBI
could very well have found it through that, and then worked backwards.

Ironically, if he had used another Tor hidden service to administer the
server, he might have an easier time now...

> More fundamentally, a business built around selling drugs by mail to
> customers' actual physical addresses was doomed. Anonymity in the
> physical world is much^N harder than on the Internet.

It's actually quite easy to send drugs through the mail; that's the
primary way large (mid-level) amounts are sent around the US, at least. 

Further, the Silk Road culture was to use PGP to encrypt your address to
the seller, so that the silk road would never have it. (It's somewhat
insane they stored cleartext addresses at all, but they did, so a few
people might get unlucky and find their addresses in the July 23rd

Sent from Ubuntu
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