It hasn’t been a week since the government seized and shut down Silk Road, the digital black market hidden in the underground Deep Web, and arrested the alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht, but a Silk Road revival is almost ready. A post on Atlantis Blog, the mouthpiece for another Internet black market that was shut down just weeks earlier, hinted that “Silk Road 2.0” is ready to launch and is in the final testing stages.
The post, written by a representative of Atlantis using the name “Heisenberg2.0,” said that former vendors will get anonymous invites to join the site before it's opened to the Tor community. The author, or authors, also noted that there are at least five other projects aimed at becoming the next Silk Road, and that competing black markets such as Sheep and Black Market Reloaded are experiencing growth at exponential rates.
The community is also planning ways to avoid the security lapses that allowed for Silk Road’s downfall in the first place. First among those is BitWasp, an “open source, anonymous bitcoin marketplace specifically built for use in conjunction with Tor or I2P via the hidden services such as .onion websites and eepsites [for I2P]."
BitWasp aims to make it easier for someone to establish and operate a website like Silk Road, and make it possible for hackers to set up any number of Silk Road imitators.
“This is essential because, as with nature, competition will select for the best, most secure and most revolutionary marketplaces,” Heisenberg2.0 wrote.
It will make policing them much more difficult. The process will become like a digital version of Whack-a-Mole, with a new version popping up every time one is shut down, similar to the strategy adopted by The Pirate Bay.
If the sites want to stay secure, they may need to move away from the Tor network for anonymous browsing. The latest leaks from Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA and GCHQ have made cracking the Tor network a priority and view online anonymity as a threat to their mission.