After Silk Road Takedown, Challenges Increase for Investigators of Online Black Markets

By Colby Adams

As federal investigators continue to pursue illicit online vendors in the wake of its high-profile prosecution of Silk Road, they will face two hurdles: evolving data-encryption and an atomized black market. Following the closure of the Tor-hosted website in October for purportedly facilitating the sales of narcotics, arms and illegal services, a number of now-defunct successors attempted to absorb Silk Road's customer base, including Black Market Reloaded, Utopia Market and Silk Road 2.0, which promised buyers and vendors stronger protection from investigators. Utopia, which like Silk Road charged its vendors a commission to sell illegal goods and services, shut down...