Aussie cops: Silk Road TOR anonymity 'not guaranteed'

We monitor Aussie buyers and sellers on Silk Road, says maritime cargo watcher.

There is no guarantee of anonymity for Australian buyers and sellers of illicit drugs on the TOR-encrypted e-commerce platform Silk Road, according to the Australian Federal Police and Australian Customers and Border Protection.

The pair released a joint statement Wednesday pointing to the arrest of one Melbourne man who allegedly imported narcotics via Silk Road.

“Criminals are attempting to exploit the international mail system through online networks, but the recent arrest demonstrates that we are one step ahead of them,” said AFP Manager Crime Operations Peter Sykora.

Sykora said it was aware Silk Road was operated from an offshore location, but warned Australian users were within the reach of the AFP’s powers.

The site can only be accessed via TOR, which masks IP address details that could otherwise be stored by an ISP and associated with a user account. Silk Road trade relies on the virtual currency BitCoin for transactions.

Alana Sullivan, acting national of Custom’s cargo and maritime targeting branch, said it monitors Silk Road along with other illicit-drug sites and was aware of the Australian presence on Silk Road as both sellers and buyers.

“Persons who buy or sell through online market places, on so-called ‘anonymous’ networks should understand that they are not guaranteed anonymity,” said Sullivan.

The statement follows a recent comment by Chris McDonald, an associate professor in computer science at the University of Western Australia and Dartmouth College in the US, that the federal government has “no chance of beating” TOR encryption, The Age reported in in April.

Law enforcement may not be able to beat TOR’s encryption. However, it did not prevent US authorities in April arresting eight men accused of operating The Farmer’s Market -- another service that used the TOR anonymiser to facilitate trade. Undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents had infiltrated the organisation after becoming trusted buyers over several years of investigation.

There were no Australian arrests, however the indictment pointed to funds funnelled through that operation that were sourced from Australia via Western Union.

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13 Comments

Hang on a minute

1

I dont know the details of the arrested man, in fact i really tried to dig up some details, nothing.

Suffice it to say, he was not arrested due to a failure in the Tor anonimity network. Nor was he arrested due to a failure in the anonymized use of the crypto-currency Bitcoin, that the Silk Road uses. Ten seperate charges, sounds like he was doing a lot of large orders, maybe delivered to his home address rather than a mail box. Which like the Farmers Market, who were busted because they were using *Paypal* and other non-Bitcoin payment methods, and so left a paper trail outside of Tor, is not a failure of the anonymizing technologies, but part of the weaknesses of 'the last hop' - receipt/transfer of goods/payment.

The Silk Road itself details instructions on how to decrease the chances of seizure and legal risks, and sellers are quite clever in packaging to evade customs. Just for the internet curious mind you, i wouldn't ever advise breaking the law. But these technologies are a lot more sound than the AFP give them credit for.

Hoam.

DFP

2

The AFP must think people are stupid.
But we are not.

The Real Headline

3

The real headline here should be... Internet: Future of the War on Drugs 'Not Guaranteed'.

Salmon

4

Yeah, when I discover a really good fishing spot, I always make sure to release a joint statement informing the fish.

jason

5

So in fact tor and silk road ARE anonymous, it's just that if you use it to import drugs, there are other means of catching you.

Classic

6

Salmon: Perfect!

Lemming 45609586983-G65

7

Smoke 'til cancer. Drink to organ failure. Gamble to destitution... (take prescription medicine 'til you OD!)

But, whatever you do, DO NOT POP AN ECSTASY TABLET AND DANCE!! =O

www.failstralia.com/ignorance

xg5

8

TOR doesn't provide end to end encryption. The last data transmission isn't encrypted so whoever owns the exit node can read the unencrypted data.... RTFM

consumer products

9

This may very well be a little off topic however, you appear to have
good customer understanding. What are the top product review sites?

consumer products

10

This may very well be a little off topic however, you appear to have good customer understanding.
What are the top product review sites?

Eva

11

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style is witty, keep up the good work!

Eva

12

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keep up the good work!

Evelyne

13

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