Trying to shut down Silk Road, and any of its many-headed hydra reiterations, seems to be the ultimate lesson in futility. According to Motherboard, a new version of the online black market, called Silk Road Reloaded, launched today on the I2P anonymous network, dealing with several altcoin currencies.
In fact, those are two of the biggest differentiators between this new Silk Road and its ancestors. Where Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0 used Tor and Bitcoin almost exclusively, Silk Road Reloaded will use a total of eight different forms of cryptocurrency, including Darkcoin, Dogecoin, and Anoncoin, with more along the way. As Motherboard mentions, Silk Road Reloaded has most of the illicit unmentionables you'd expect from an online black market, save for weapons and stolen credit card credentials.
The biggest news is that Silk Road Reloaded transitions from Tor to the anonymous, decentralised I2p network. Think of it as the deeper deep web. When Silk Road 2.0 was shutdown in November last year, black markets struggled to find an alternative to set up shop, fearing that Tor had been compromised or was culpable due to its U.S. government ties (those fears have not gone away.). It would seem that Reloaded has found a possible answer.
This new illicit site actually cribs this I2P tech from one of Silk Road's competitors, TheMarketplace, which is one of the hardest to access markets on the dark web. After downloading I2P software or reconfiguring your computer, users then access .I2P sites, known as "eepSites." One source says the actual entomology of the "eep" suffix could be an allusion to "end-to-end protocol," "encrypted-to-encypted peer," or is "just a phoneme for IIP (Invisible Internet Project)."
The creators of the I2P discuss the differences between onion routing and their own peer-based creation:
Tor and Onion Routing are both anonymising proxy networks, allowing people to tunnel out through their low latency mix network. 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.
Motherboard's Joseph Cox reports that right now the service is little more than a digital desert with very little to no activity at all. But in the coming days, weeks, months, that could all change. [Motherboard]