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How Silk Road Bounced Back From Its Multimillion-Dollar Hack

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the easy-come-easy-go dept.

The Almighty Buck 50

Daniel_Stuckey writes: "Silk Road, the online marketplace notable for selling drugs and attempting to operate over Tor, was shut down last October. Its successor, Silk Road 2.0 survived for a few months before suffering a security breach. In total, an estimated $2.7 million worth of Bitcoin belonging to users and staff of the site was stolen. Some in the Silk Road community suspected that the hack might have involved staff members of the site itself, echoing scams on other sites. Project Black Flag closed down after its owner scampered with all of their customers' Bitcoin, and after that users of Sheep Marketplace had their funds stolen, in an incident that has never been conclusively proven as an inside job or otherwise. Many site owners would probably have given up at this point, and perhaps attempted to join another site, or start up a new one under a different alias. Why would you bother to pay back millions of dollars when you could just disappear into the digital ether? But Silk Road appears to be trying to rebuild, and to repay users' lost Bitcoins."

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so that they can do it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820015)

Guy takes bitcoins from customers
turns bitcoins into something tangable
invests said money
repays with interest
regains street cred
repeat

A fool and his bitcoins are soon parted. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820049)

When will people learn? Dealing in bitcoin is EXTREMELY risky. People losing small fortunes every time you turn around. Think I'll just stick to wire transfers.

Re:A fool and his bitcoins are soon parted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820061)

I could say the same of cash. You need to be more specific.

Re:A fool and his bitcoins are soon parted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46821517)

You can see the guy who you are giving cash. You know his location, others see him. There are ways to track him down, especially if he runs a street shop.

Re:A fool and his bitcoins are soon parted. (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 6 months ago | (#46828279)

Yup. That's why I don't make large transactions in cash. Or in bitcoins.

Re:A fool and his bitcoins are soon parted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826979)

Yeah, drug dealers never ripped anyone off before bitcoin existed.

better than FDIC (2)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about 6 months ago | (#46820071)

The FDIC will only pay back the first $250K and can take up to 10 years.

Re:better than FDIC (4, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#46820625)

Having money in US banks is risky anyways. If you can't account for a large sum of money, government organizations are known for just outright taking the whole damn thing. Not even taxing, it, just fucking outright taking ALL of it away. I even know people who had the police confiscate cash (in one case, $5,000) and just flat out keep it if they can't provide receipts showing where it came from. I honestly don't blame the super rich for hiding money in offshore accounts; you never know what the government will suddenly and irrevocably decide is "theirs," and public opinion will never be on your side either if you ever made an issue of it (popular opinion seems to be that the wealthy are only wealthy if they steal or inherit, in spite of some 70% of the forbes 400 not having wealthy parents.)

Re:better than FDIC (4, Insightful)

Gryle (933382) | about 6 months ago | (#46821549)

Paraphrasing an observation I once heard, the US has a funny way of looking at wealth. If I'm wealthy I made my money fair and square through hard-work, determination, and maybe a pinch of luck, and I deserve to keep my hard-won earnings.. If you're wealthy you're a lying, thieving bastard who exploited someone else and don't really deserve your earnings.

Re:better than FDIC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46822139)

There is another saying. No one ever made a million completely honestly.

Re:better than FDIC (1)

Ellie K (1804464) | about 6 months ago | (#46826463)

FDIC is insurance. They repay you if the bank goes out of business. They don't take your money!
Comparing $5000 confiscated by police, and suggesting that it is the motivation for the 100's of millions of dollars kept offshore by Forbes 400 billionaires is illogical.

Re:better than FDIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46828615)

If this were true that would be awful, but it's not true in the United States. Pesky 6th amendment prevents taking private property without due process of law, which means the state must prove beyond a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the money is the proceeds of one of the crimes that qualifies for asset forfeiture, such as cooking meth or money laundering. Very few crimes qualify. I've had to return a lot of money because we didn't have enough evidence.

Re:better than FDIC (3, Insightful)

Unkl_Shvelven (1002053) | about 6 months ago | (#46820983)

The ten years part is a myth, see Snopes [snopes.com] .

From the relevant primary source (Spring 2006 FDIC Consumer News newsletter):

If a bank fails, the FDIC could take up to 99 years to pay depositors for their insured accounts.

This is a completely false notion that many bank customers have told us they heard from someone attempting to sell them another kind of financial product.

The truth is that federal law requires the FDIC to pay the insured deposits "as soon as possible" after an insured bank fails.

Historically, the FDIC pays insured deposits within a few days after a bank closes, usually the next business day. In most cases, the FDIC will provide each depositor with a new account at another insured bank. Or, if arrangements cannot be made with another institution, the FDIC will issue a check to each depositor.

Re:better than FDIC (1)

deadweight (681827) | about 6 months ago | (#46823437)

I had a bank robber come in line behind me. I deposited my paycheck and left. He robbed the teller and made off with my check. ME: Where is my paycheck? BANK: We got robbed and the robber took it. ME" Who is "we"? YOU got robbed, you have insurance. I saw the FDIC sticker on the door. BANK: The funds will be in your account tomorrow. ME: Thanks

Project Black Flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820149)

Leave Henry Rollins out of this.

"Why would you bother to pay back millions of..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820271)

"dollars when you could just disappear into the digital ether?" So idiots will send you twice as much to embezzle when you're "hacked" again. A fool and his money are soon parted. (Often several times by the same scammer.)

Why they're rebuilding. (4, Insightful)

ddt (14627) | about 6 months ago | (#46820281)

Their customer base includes hit men?

Re:Why they're rebuilding. (2)

erichill (583191) | about 6 months ago | (#46820567)

Indeed, reading this one wonders how long before something bad happens to those who at least apparently have run off with the money. Part of the usual overhead for playing in a black market, after all.

Re:Why they're rebuilding. (1)

codebonobo (2762819) | about 6 months ago | (#46821633)

Their customer base includes hit men?

Like the taxpayer supported hitmen that most pay for? Silk road at least never allowed for assassins to be hired and bid upon; the same cannot be said for other organizations.

A fool and their money... (2, Insightful)

iroll (717924) | about 6 months ago | (#46820293)

These losses illustrate perfectly the stupidity of giving some pseudoanonymous sociopath on the internet your money to "hold" for you. WHY? WHY? WHY?

Nobody would ever think, "Hey! I've got $500 in my pocket, better give it to the first creep that I find in an alley!"

Using a shady, tor-based business to broker a transaction is risky, but it only risks the single transaction (or the consequences for making transactions in contraband). Putting your funds on deposit with a shady, tor-based business (or a Japanese trading card exchange) is dumb in ways that must boggle even the Princes of Nigeria.

Re:A fool and their money... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820539)

These losses illustrate perfectly the stupidity of giving some pseudoanonymous sociopath on the internet your money to "hold" for you. WHY? WHY? WHY?

There was nothing else before this. Silk Road 1.0 was so succesful, it heralded an era that no one ever saw before and only those that were around during it's time can understand what a free society truely looks like (except for those that have been to Burning Man). Silk Road 2.0 is an attempt to provide that same experience, except it's not. Nothing like the original days when DPR2 was in charge. With MultiSig, decentralized escrow coming into play, we are ready to enter that new era. Beyond the black market of Silk Road, decentralized exchanges and cryptocoin as an IPO vehicle, we shall either experience a shift in wealth ownership to the more libertian-minded (c/o 2012 and beyond) or further explotation by the 1%.

TL;DR: you may have seen dogecoins on reddit, as well as bitcoin, karmacoin and potcoins. Don't discount the worth of these tools, we are at the crossroads of a change of power. Hated the way the world has progressed in the previous 50 years? As proven with SilkRoad, cryptocurrency has the clout to change that.

Re:A fool and their money... (2)

iroll (717924) | about 6 months ago | (#46820639)

TL;DR: you didn't read what I wrote, and responded to something you made up.

With a broker or an exchange, you only have risk associated with the transaction. You put money in, bitcoins come out. You put bitcoins in, money comes out. Or, alternatively, you put bitcoins in, special brownies come out. The risk is all associated with that transaction.

With a deposit, you're basically putting money in and crossing your fingers.

In the above-ground market, there are lots of rules to try and mitigate the risk, which is why the vast majority of us will go our whole lives without losing a deposit in a normal financial institution. When you put your money on deposit with DogeBank, you have none of that mitigation.

Re:A fool and their money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820687)

You should quit while you're behind. Reiterating your borderline retarted opinions on how a free market works is doing wonders for your reputation. A business that steals from its customers ceases to be a business automatically. Sure, the theif may get something... but they kill their golden goose in the process, and then no one else gets ripped off. Please stop posting.

multisig, man, multisig. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820893)

"With a broker or an exchange, you only have risk associated with the transaction. You put money in, bitcoins come out. You put bitcoins in, money comes out. Or, alternatively, you put bitcoins in, special brownies come out. The risk is all associated with that transaction."

Yes, and the GP explained to you how new approaches (multisig) moves silk-market like operations too into that space, by making deposits with a third party unnecessary. You need to trust that the broker and the dealer aren't conspiring against you, but as long as ONE of the two is trustworthy and they aren't in cahoots, multisig solves that problem.

Of course, there's still the risk with the transaction itself, and that's considerable when it's in an illegal market.

Re:A fool and their money... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46824149)

understand what a free society truely looks like (except for those that have been to Burning Man).

Burning man is a festival and a holiday. It's not a free society.

The reality of this free-as-in-libre currency Bitcon appears to be that people are ripping other people off left right and centre.

Re:A fool and their money... (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 6 months ago | (#46820581)

The entire reason they are succesful is BECAUSE the deposits. It enables them to create an escrow system which makes things much more comfortable.

Also you can depisit on a per-transaction basis...there is no minimum.

Re:A fool and their money... (1)

iroll (717924) | about 6 months ago | (#46820649)

If you deposit on a per-transaction basis, you can only lose as much money as you can lose if all of your transactions fail.

If you leave your money on deposit, or "store" your bitcoins there because you don't know how to drop a wallet into dropbox, you are basically dangling a carrot for somebody to steal (MtGox). I mean, think about PayPal for goodness sakes. After the whole minecraft incident, what sane person would just "let it ride" in a paypal account? PayPal is great for facilitating transactions, but there's no reason to trust them with massive deposits.

Traceability. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820923)

If you deposit on a per-transaction basis, you become dramatically trackable. This is the other reason why people take the risk of depositing on black market sites, and why multisig isn't likely to make a big difference. An essential part of Silk Road's service was the tumbler.

Deposits and escrow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820917)

Multisig allows a superior escrow system, where you don't have to trust any single user (you still have to trust that the majority of participants, usually two out of three, are honest).

The question is, with multisig, what's in it for the site makers? They can't defraud, and they can't skim a fee (well they can, but they'll have lots and lots of competition). Who will be interested in making a site and drawing the government's ire when there's but little money to be made?

Re:A fool and their money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820597)

You're forgetting that its business... just business. And business doesn't go so well for even the lowlifes if they walk away with the money without completing their end of the deal. The free market is your security. So I think you should take a second to examine your own stupidity regarding this, and perhaps also examine your obvious bias because you think someone that pays for and does drugs is automatically stupid, not for any valid reason, but because you don't like drugs. But I bet my shorts that you're a drug user and just don't think of yourself as one. Drink coffee? Well, caffeine is drug. Drink beer? wine? Alcohol is also a drug. So please save your hypocrisy, idiot. Also, it should go without saying, drugs and "shady" drug deals are everywhere, and every level of society, and not just in the proverbial back alleys. Here's an anacdote for you: years ago scientists tested the sewage from the US Capital building and found Cocaine and Heroin. I wonder how it got there? It couldn't be that the guys you voted for are getting high, could it? Yes, that's exactly what it means. I'm not saying all congress critters are drug users, but chances are good that some are, and the amount that are is probably equal in the exact proportion of the general population. So don't be such a jugemental asshole all the time. And stay away from my kids when you're high on caffeine and alcohol. Thanks.

Re:A fool and their money... (0)

iroll (717924) | about 6 months ago | (#46820621)

This is the dumbest thing I've ever read. You have managed an astronomical level of projection.

I said that grey/black market transactions are risky, but the that the risk is limited to the transaction, while the risk making a deposit to a grey/black market bank is basically 100%. Buying contraband is risky; that's not a value judgement, it's a fact. That's why people make shitloads of money dealing in it.

Re:A fool and their money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820657)

Then you're not very bright, are you? You have an astoundling level of naivety. Amazing that you seem to know all these things about things you seem to want to distance yourself from, so if you're distant from it, how could you know anything about it?

As in everything that is bought or sold, only a very small minority makes "shitloads of money." You think every drug dealer makes shitloads of money? Not so. The vast majority make nothing at all. I'm serious. No profit whatsoever. What is their incentive? They're just good people, and decent to their friends is all. The market is the market, and only those at the top of any particular market have the kind of margins you seem to think are at every level of the market. What turnip truck did you fall off of?

You sure have the arrogance to be posting on slashdot, but you just don't have the intelligence that most that post here do. Maybe you should hold your tongue a bit more so that its not so obvious to everyone what an insufferable idiot you are.

Re:A fool and their money... (1)

iroll (717924) | about 6 months ago | (#46829083)

Another amazing act of mental acrobatics and insane projection. Where dark corner of your pathetic psyche are you dredging up these things from? What am I distancing myself from? Or am I not distancing myself, I can't keep it straight.

In everything I've written in this thread, I've not made a single value judgment about illegal drugs, you raving lunatic. And by the way, you know a helluva lot less than you think you do. It is an undisputed fact of economics that contraband (guns, drugs, porn, forbidden politics, outlaw jedi) will command a premium proportional to the risk required to deliver it.

Maybe you should smoke a little less crack so that it's not so obvious to everyone what an insufferable idiot you are.

Re:A fool and their money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46823327)

Did you really just try to defend drugs by pointing to the fact that CONGRESS has been caught with them before?

"Hey, X isn't so bad, those folks that 91% of the country disagrees with about everything have been known to use X!"

From someone who does approve of responsible recreational drug use being entirely allowed, I had to facepalm at this. Use drugs, make arguments on the Internet...but preferably, try to avoid doing both at the same time.

Re:A fool and their money... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46831687)

People addicted to drugs tend not to think too clearly about the potential risks involved in obtaining them.

LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820453)

"an estimated $2.7 million worth of Bitcoin belonging to users and staff of the site was stolen"

LOL

Bitcoin, the online money.

fu beta (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820681)

you too

Trustworthy is the name of the game (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820719)

Why would you bother to pay back millions of dollars when you could just disappear into the digital ether?

Because TRUST is a vital ingredient in trade. In order for other to trust you, you need to prove yourself to be trustworthy.

In that sense, the people behind Silk Road has more trustworthiness than that guy sitting inside the Oval Office.

Re:Trustworthy is the name of the game (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46824209)

That guy sitting in the oval office is Barack Obama. We know quite a lot about him. We even have his birth cert!

Now who is that person trading as "The Silk Road"? And where is he?

If you need honest businessmen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46820929)

don't go looking for them in corporations with limited liability. They have the right and entitlement to walk with stuffed pockets when things go South. Ordinary business stuffs their pockets with customer money when taking a hike, bankers stuff their pockets with taxpayer money when doing so.

They are protected by the law. Drug dealers aren't, even when Department of "Justice" Godfather Holder has enough of a stake in them that he liberally equips them with weapons and commits perjury before congress about it, then clears himself of any consequences when caught.

I'm really sorry for them (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | about 6 months ago | (#46820985)

It's not like they wanted to hurt anyone, just make money. So depressing. I feel sort of crappy myself. I wish I had more time to rest. It feels like I'm waiting for the mortician. Sorry for all this, I needed to vent.

Why Rebuild and pay back $2.7m? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46821109)

If you feel the brand is worth more than $2.7m I guess - how much profit did the site make per annum?

Hmm, I wonder... (1)

namgge (777284) | about 6 months ago | (#46821417)

Why would you bother to pay back millions of dollars when you could just disappear into the digital ether?

I'm just guessing, but I'd have thought that ripping off certain users of Silk Road could be extremely bad for your health.

Decentralized Black Markets (1)

codebonobo (2762819) | about 6 months ago | (#46821693)

Decentralized Black Markets are being created and working proof of concepts are available.

https://github.com/darkwallet/darkmarket

All of these old darkmarkets mentioned in the OP are obsolete. Theft from the market owners will no longer be possible. Theft from sellers, while rare in past, will become even more rare with escrow mutisig authentications. Theft from governments shutting it down and stealing everyone's bitcoins like in SR1 will now become impossible.

http://www.coindesk.com/airbitz-wins-toronto-bitcoin-expo-hackathon-darkmarket

DarkMarket: A decentralized peer-to-peer marketplace, which cannot be shut down. Anyone can start a node and join the network, buying and selling with their peers. With identity, reputation, seller pages, multi-signature escrow, private messages and privacy features.

Re:Decentralized Black Markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825203)

It needs a new name.

Darkmarket was a honeypot a few years back.

Bounced back? No, trying to bounce back (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46821861)

First off, they haven't 'bounced back' ... someone is trying to, but at this point its not really shit to brag about. Second, in order for them to 'bounce back', their going to have to rob someone else.

The first morons who let these guys hold their money were idiots. Who the fuck lets their drug dealer hold their money? NO ONE WITH A CLUE.

Then, when the drug dealer runs off with your money ... what moron gives them more to hold on to? Not even strung out junkies are that stupid in general.

Hey Jay! What Do I Love? Stupid Criminals! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46822527)

As you astutely observed, key details in this article are wrong. They weren't robbed, either - the FBI seized their assets and shut them down. The writer and the respondents are either Silk Road insiders or supporters - simply a new kind of Organized Crime. Like lunkhead criminals of the 30's, they just can't learn, so they will have their assets seized, be will be beaten up and thrown in jail by law enforcement from now until the end of time. Criminals are born stupid and they'll die stupid.

Re:Hey Jay! What Do I Love? Stupid Criminals! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46845667)

Not the same site. Kinda makes your comments about people being stupid look... well, stupid.

Get off my Grass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46823323)

Back in my day, you had to work hard at networking and being generally acceptable - socially - to score what you wanted. Kids these days have it Tor too easy...

Anyone here still using Silk Road? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46866347)

I found a good guide and the Silk Road url here but want to know if many people still using it. http://silkroaddrugs.org

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