How to Access the Silk Road Anonymous Free Market Marketplace
The Other Side of The Internet
The wildness of the Internet, as seen by most travelers of the information super-highway, are well known, usually easily searched though not well witnessed. Stories of people procuring drugs, weapons, even human organs via the Internet. There are news stories of another internet where "hackers" sell identities, credit card numbers or even their services. The stories of a place where you might be able to hire a hitman or even purchase a human being over the Internet are abound, but, the average Internet user rarely sees that part of the internet first hand.
For the most part, stories and scenarios, like these, are passed around various media circles and read about by users who rarely venture beyond Facebook or eBay during their Internet travels. Still, the curiosity lingers in some, "Where do they sell this stuff?", "Where are these secret websites?","How do you get there?" they ask themselves, often never finding a satisfactory answer to appease their wonder.
Certainly, a multitude of sites exist that hold scores of seedy, mischievous and very illegal information, dealings and otherwise. Though, to access them an average user would be opening themselves up to a slew of possible malevolence.
So, with regards to the average user and his or her well being. Instead, perhaps simply to quell curiosity, we might explore "The Silk Road", the deep web's version of Amazon...more or less.
Silk Road 3.1
Silk Road 3.1
In October 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the "dark web" website called The Silk Road and arrested Ross William Ulbricht, the sites founder (aka Dread Pirate Roberts). He was was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in a Federal court.
Since his arrest, there were multiple attempts to open another Silk Road marketplace on the "dark web". All of them have been shut down.
Marketplaces continue to open, selling the same wares that were started on the Silk Road. Now, there are more than ever, but among them is, yet a new Silk Road marketplace.
What is "The Silk Road"?
"The Silk Road", apart from the name used for a "network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa", it's also the name appropriated for a "free market" site buried in the "deep web". For all intents and purposes, this is the Silk Road I'll be referring to.
The web site, is labelled to be an unrestricted market with which sellers can sell, just about anything (but, usually just products that would be considered illegal in a regular market), patrons can buy a host of products not readily available in conventional markets.
You can get almost anything there. The products range from knock off jewelry and electronics to machine guns...actual machine guns.
Buying on The Silk Road
Purchasing an item from "The Silk Road" is actually a tricky process and is meant to be. Participants in this "free market" like to remain anonymous and rightly so. The products sold on this site aren't exactly conventional.
Instead, purchases are made through third party sources and actual money is never exchanged. Instead, a kind of conduit using "crypto currency" (usually Bitcoin) are used to buy items, so, credit card information is never entered on the actual site. Because of this, transactions can't be tracked as a run of the mill transaction would, at least, not without great effort. The names of the sellers, buyers and even countries of origin are all kept confidential.
However, that doesn't mean a transaction can't be tracked altogether. It is possible to listen for a transactions' relays and log their IP addresses. Still, one would have to know when the transaction were taking place and finding the source of any particular transaction can be difficult.
How do I access The Silk Road?
The Silk Road, naturally, is not easy to access. The people that ply their wares on the site aren't traditional shop keeps and don't play well with others, so, the site isn't easily accessed. Still, selling can't be done without customers, so, there is a way to view and buy from the site.
Accessing the site from a traditional browser isn't possible, as browsers store information (such as: passwords, cookies, etc.). They also make reading your computer's IP address (Your computer's address on the internet, from which your physical location can be extracted) fairly easy to a hacker. Hackers, of course, being a good portion of The Silk Road's clientele.
To circumvent this betrayal of location and vital information, you must access it using a specialized browser called Tor.
The Tor browser is a program, that uses complex algorithms, to mask a user's location and allows them to browse websites anonymously. There are settings in many popular browsers that claim to do just that or come close but, Tor is specifically made to disguise the user's location. "The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you--then, periodically erasing your footprints."
Only after installing Tor can one browse The Silk Road site.
Where is The Silk Road?
Only after installing the Tor software and heeding ALL of it's warnings, the Silk Road is accessible.
Obviously, the difficulty of finding the site is beyond the reach of some internet users and is meant to be. Not all of what is sold on the Silk Road is illegal, though largely, a lot of it is classified as illegal. The site's address is markedly hidden, though, pretty easy to find. The URL changes from time to time, it's new incarnation is this. Or...for the less tech savvy, you can copy and paste this:
into the TOR browser.
Please remember that when visiting any site on the "dark web", use precaution. The only safeguards are whatever the user enables. Your best defense is a sense of where you are. Utilize VPN's, firewalls, and implement as many forms of security as you see fit.
Why You Shouldn't...
Free, anonymous markets are a great thing. It allows everyone to shop in peace, without judgement or persecution for what they choose to buy. Knowing you can get what you want, at a reasonable price without society or government intrusion. The Silk Road however it may claim it, is not that kind of market place.
It is a market peopled by those trying to profit from illegal goods. Purchasing such items from the Silk Road will land you in jail, just as any other illegal purchase would. The legal ramifications may even be amplified, in certain instances, to include larger than usual jail sentences due to federal jurisdictions and such.
It's patrons are also disguised and anonymous. This often hides their motives along with their identities in some cases. Whether a person is merely trying to sell goods or is after something else is never clear. In choosing to buy goods from Silk Road, the user takes responsibility into their own hands, be it opening one's self up to cyber attacks or a lengthy jail sentence. The choice to visit The Silk Road is the user's alone. Be cautious.
For Those Interested In More...
The Dark Web of Everything
Since this Hub was created, a number of events concerning The Silk Road, Bitcoin and numerous things concerning the Dark Web have occurred, many of which have been in the news. The result, oddly enough, is an increase in the number of marketplaces available on the dark net.
The Internet, is always flexing it's eternal resilience it would seem. The dark web continues to hum along, much to the befuddlement of the authorities. Regardless of trials, arraignments,investigations, and the rolling back of net neutrality, denizens of both the surface Internet, the "Dark web", and the world at large will always strive for a free market solution with which to operate anonymously, without judgement.