‘Silk Road Reloaded,’ a new anonymous online drug market, draws upon a host of new anonymizing features, including I2P connectivity and the use of cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin.
By embracing I2P, the administrators of the new Silk Road iteration now welcome a service that, as opposed to Tor, is friendly to peer-to-peer connections and uses a design that is optimized for hidden services.
There are other differences between Tor and I2P, as well. As the I2P site explains, “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 distributed network database and peer selection.”
Silk Road Reloaded has also adopted the Darkcoin, an alternative cryptocurrency that claims to keep its users’ transactions for more private than Bitcoin.
Although Bitcoin does inject a sense of privacy into online transactions, the problem rests with the blockchain, a public record of all Bitcoin transactions via which people can easily trace transactions back to the purchaser’s and seller’s pseudonyms. If those pseudonyms are not properly secured, it’s possible for persons watching the blockchain to determine who is selling to whom, effectively exposing the exchange of illicit substances and other goods to outside observers.
Whether Darkcoin will provide stronger security and anonymity than Bitcoin remains to be seen.
Silk Road Reloaded offers a catalog of drugs, hacking tools, and counterfeit money, but it sells neither weapons nor stolen credit card credentials.
This is presumably a deliberate choice on the part of the site’s administrators. As they explain, “We nor anyone else has the right/privilege to tell you what to do with your person, on any level except/unless you cause harm to someone’s property/person…. It’s not only a major disruption of progress, but it is an interference to control someone to the degree that their free will is compromised. We may not be able to stop this, but we certainly won’t contribute to it.”
Silk Road Reloaded replaces Silk Road 2.0, which was taken down as part of an international sting led by Europol, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security against underground drug markets back in November of 2014.