They don’t let Kashmir Hill write headlines like mine on Forbes, so I have to do it for her. Fun article. Go read. Come back.
Sad stories coming out, regularly. And they will for a long time. Scheherazade could stay busy for 1001 nights with the Silk Road rap sheets, I imagine, by the end of it.
But Forbes is tracking the predicted cascade of trials and likely convictions, just or not — they’ll be coming in for YEARS — following the Silk Road busts. For years, people. As I predicted in a #callmecassandra post years ago.
And I wish I could say I take no joy out of it. I’m human, I get smug. I despise the drug war — I really do. I’ve blogged about how hard it is to approach solving it as an infowar problem.
But the darknet marketplaces were and continue to be, IMO, a poorly conceived strategy that strengthens the government’s position in the infowar and enforcement budgets, winning them back hearts and minds and re-associating drugs with crime and violence for hire — just as legalization is gaining so much ground.
So who is promoting this stuff? Oh it’s always a mixed agenda, who this serves. It serves the people who want libertarian fuck-you anarchist agendas, and culture jams up the tailpipe of the establishment at any cost. It obviously serves a market.
But it’s also the best honeypot LE has for a new generation of drug entrepreneurs they could never have flushed out otherwise — and it’s chaff for the press that distracts everyone from the concept that they can do nothing at all about the real organized crime online, which gets no attention from the press anymore at all since the Silk Road clones have come to dominate page hits.
Someone influential in “the movement” recently told me Silk Road was about “open markets in contraband” — that makes it sound so sanitary and philosophical. Except things are not that neat.
I like the clean food and drug regulations and I’d frankly prefer my street drugs without adulteration if I used them anymore (she says, looking at her rather complicated allopathic pill tray — boy I don’t need to add anything to that!). And I don’t like yuppie sanitized e-commerce violence-for-hire as a supplement for the violence from street drug entrepreneurship in my gritty Dominican barrio, tyvm.
But to me, I see Silk Road et al as HempFest’s Altamont — a marriage from hell. I have such a bad feeling about this direction. And this massive fail is the first among many. We hear about more darknet marketplaces failing? #callmecassandra There will be more dumbasses in the docket.
Oh, please, fail hard and early. Fewer people will get hurt.
We can patch Tor, but the thousands of people selling? Every one of those is a vulnerability. And the FBI is full of hungry, ambitious hunters, many nearly as smart as me and better trained, and some are far less concerned with niceties.
What do you figure the odds are any of these markets will stand up to social engineering? Drug dealers are known for their lack of discipline and impulse control, their poor attention to detail — bad opsec.
My prediction? None of these sites will stand. Every one of them, if they stand up to technical attack, will fall to ordinary stings and social engineering exploits, ordinary online police work and forensics.
Because they are rife with dumbasses and marks. Just by the numbers.
And once the site is pwned, and the data is available, each whole site’s data will just be picked clean (after, as Holder is allowed now, it’s left operational for a good long time to harvest live connection data), and the way things run, this likely leads to network connections to weak links to other co-conspirators in other ventures. Inserted malware as servers are kept as zombies for weeks after seizure by the feds. Juicy bits gleaned from emails kept in clear text on hard drives. Plea bargains as people inform.
Big budgets, big press for the drug warriors.
It’s not a new victory for the markets for contraband. It’s just a new battlefield. A children’s crusade. Anyone can play.
Ashes, ashes, they all fall down…