Deep Web Users Blame Convicted Silk Road Boss for Getting Caught
"Ross was an absolute cement-head, when it came to security."
When the first Silk Road was shut down, the deep web was in a state of panic. The site's forum, as well as those on rival sites, were on fire with analysis and general chatter about the arrest of the Silk Road's creator Ross Ulbricht.
But now, after Ulbricht has been convicted of all seven charges against him—an outcome that his defense is likely to appeal—the deep web is quiet. Members of the community could be discussing the verdict privately between themselves, but at least on the forums there is hardly any mention.
Of those who are talking about the trial, the comments are mostly scathing criticism of Ulbricht, and in particular how he didn't properly implement encryption on his computer, among other security mistakes.
"Ross was an absolute cement-head, when it came to security," wrote Evolution forum member Fantino. Evolution is a deep web market that recently celebrated its first birthday. Continued Fantino, "There were any number of knowledgeable people on the SR Forum who gave him advice, which he universally ignored."
"At the end of the day he fucked up"
Staff from Evolution chimed in too. On The Hub, a neutral forum for all marketplace enthusiasts to meet, Evolution market moderator EvilGrin mocked the defense's approach, joking that it would only be effective on "opposite day."
Other commenters in the same thread were willing to look past these mistakes and extend messages of condolence.
"A good man is going to jail today. A sad day it is," wrote user Cyrus_the_Great.
"smoking a blunt for him right now ! ;(" lamented Evolution vendor TheKushSaiyan.
"We all knew it was coming, but it doesn't make the news any easier to swallow. I'm so sorry for Ross and his family," wrote nswgreat.
There didn't appear to be any dedicated thread discussing the verdict of the Silk Road trial on Agora, another popular deep web market.
One deep web user, however, made the point that the very space where these conversations were taking place—the forum of an anonymous, online drug market—would not have been possible without Ulbricht.
"A very sad day for us all," HashishUK wrote on the Evolution forum. "Without this man non of this would be here today."
"At the end of the day he fucked up," HashishUK continued in another post, "but we would not be here without what he did he is a very smart man, just seems lazy as fuck and didnt want to learn how to secure shit properly."
Silk Road was the first drug marketplace to marry the digital currency Bitcoin with the anonymity of Tor's hidden services. Since then, we've seen a plethora of other marketplaces based on the Silk Road model come and go, as well as the ramping up of law enforcement efforts to shut them down. Today, there are at least a dozen deep web sites selling drugs; a phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down.
The newer sites have pushed the template further, too. Evolution users enjoy two-factor authentication for a more secure experience, and some projects are experimenting with decentralisation, which may make shutting down the site harder.
Even if much of the deep web community is willing to castigate or turn against Ulbricht, there is no doubt that the Silk Road has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the drug trade, and has spread the idea that a free market can exist beyond the control of the state.
So while it's business as usual for the latest generation of marketplaces, some are keen to remind others that Silk Road started all of this.