Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve made it my mission in my life to educate myself to the fullest extent possible as to the diagnosis and treatment of any and all health problems I’m suffering from. It is my wish that like a well-tuned engine, I be operating to the my fullest capacity for the majority of the time, such that I can maximise my potential in life and allow myself to experience positive feedback loops of self-development as often as possible.
To that end, I am currently medicating myself with 9 separate treatments on a daily basis, for conditions ranging from hair loss, to fat burning, to testosterone replacement therapy. I simply cannot be bothered arguing with ill-informed medical professionals as to their opinion on how I should be treated, when all the information one could ever need is available on the internet. It certainly takes a measure of skill to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff when researching a new field of health-related interest on blog posts, studies, and forums, but with hard work and perseverance you can make yourself an expert on pretty much anything you care to name within a week or two.
Anyway, since I’ve chosen to not go through the medical profession for remedies for my ailments, I’ve had to find an alternative way to source various prescription medications. And that’s where the Silk Road comes in.
For those of you who have never heard of it, the Silk Road can be thought of as essentially an underground eBay. Accessible only via an anonymous, encrypted network called Tor, the site is a marketplace for every kind of narcotic and prescription medicine known to man. Weed, pills, crack, heroin, coke, LSD, uppers, downers, steroids – you name it, it can all be found on there. Similar to eBay, a feedback system is operated, ensuring that you can at least be reasonably sure of the quality of the goods you are going to be receiving, and the reliability of the seller. For those of you not comfortable with ingesting substances you’ve ordered over the internet, then there’s not much point reading any further.
Obviously, a site like this is highly illegal, and so there are a number of anonymising hoops you’re going to need to jump through to be able to get on it and start using it. The currency used to pay for things on the Silk Road is Bitcoins. I’m sure you’ve all heard of them, and I could fill a series of posts solely about them such is the fascinating nature of the technology behind them, but for now, all you need to be concerned with is how to obtain and spend them.
Here’s a breakdown of what you’re going to need to get started buying things on the Silk Road.
1. An account on Mt Gox
You’re going to need Bitcoins. Mt Gox is what is known as a Bitcoin exchange, essentially allowing you to convert real currency into Bitcoins. Bitcoins themselves are traded on a market much in the same way as real currencies, and so when you “buy” them, you are actually entering an order on to the market to deal at a certain value. Fortunately, Mt Gox handles most of this for you. Find Mt Gox here. Account signup is a standard process. Don’t use the same account name or email address as you use for all of your other sites, as it will make it easier to trace you in the event that the site is compromised.
2. Funds in your account on Mt Gox
Before you can buy any Bitcoins, you’re going to need to have some funds in your account in Mt Gox. This isn’t so simple as merely using a credit card or Paypal unfortunately – a lot of people use Bitcoins to launder money. I had to fund my account via a European bank transfer option, which involved first having to verify my identity by sending in a scanned copy of my passport. There are other money exchange services which can be used to fund a Mt Gox account, but they too require some form of account verification first.
There’s nothing to worry about here – if you’re careful, there need never be any direct link between your Silk Road account and your Mt Gox account, and buying Bitcoins in itself is a fully legal activity.
I’m not going to hold your hand going through the process of how to get your account verified and funded on Mt Gox. All of the information is on the website, and anyone with half a brain should be able to figure it out. I don’t mind answering any questions in the comments section though.
Once you’ve got money in your Mt Gox account (this can take a week or two to get set up initially, so be prepared to be patient), you’ll be able to place an order to buy Bitcoins. You can specify whatever buying price you like, but it’s typically easiest to just allow the site to choose the amount for you (which will be the current market value). Put an order in too low below the market, and you might be waiting a long time for it to get filled. Put an order in too high, and you’re wasting your money.
4. A client for the Tor VPN, and browser to use with it
The Tor network essentially encrypts and bounces your internet connection from tens of thousands of other computers all over the world, reassembling your data at the receiving end. It is almost completely uncrackable, and demonstrably so – any real weaknesses would have been found long ago and used by governmental agencies to take down sites like the Silk Road.
Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to get set up on it. You simply need to go here, and download the Tor Browser Bundle that is applicable for your operating system. After downloading and installing it, running the application will automatically register you on the Tor network, and open up a special browser through which you can surf the web completely anonymously and risk free.
5. An account on the Silk Road
The Silk Road itself is on a special type of site called an Onion site (referring to the layers of encryption that are used in the Tor protocol), which can only be accessed once you are connected to the Tor network. The address of the Silk Road sometimes changes, but it currently can be found here – http://silkroadvb5piz3r.onion/
Account signup is again a simple process. Use a different username from Mt Gox for safety reasons. Don’t forget the PIN number you create when signing up – it is used in multiple places on the site to confirm various actions, and cannot be retrieved once forgotten.
6. Funding your account on the Silk Road
Once you have your Bitcoins in your Mt Gox account, you will need to transfer them to your Silk Road account. Under the “Withdraw Funds” section of Mt Gox is an option to fund a Bitcoin wallet (essentially a unique link to a repository of Bitcoins, such as your Silk Road account). You can retrieve the code for your Silk Road Bitcoin wallet by logging in to your Silk Road account, and visiting the “Account” section.
Most people at this stage recommend using several Bitcoin transferral sites in a “chain”, to avoid creating a direct link between your Mt Gox accounts and your Silk Road accounts. Essentially, you are hopping your Bitcoins from one site to another, in a sequence, before finally moving them over to the Silk Road. Personally, I’ve never bothered doing this, since I’m only getting hold of prescription meds. If I was buying several kilos of crack, I would probably be a little more cautious.
7. A PGP encryption tool
As an added layer of security, when making orders from the Silk Road, your name and address details are never sent in plain text. Instead, PGP encryption is used (consisting of a public/private key pairing), whereby sellers display their public keys which you can use to encrypt your details, which can then only be decoded by them. It’s quite clever really.
People seem to go out of their way to make using these PGP encryption tools as difficult as possible. After struggling with various different ones, the most simple and straightforward one I’ve come across for Windows is PortablePGP.
Essentially, you will need to import the seller’s public PGP key into the tool, and then encrypt your address details before sending it back to them. Other anonymising services are also used, such as PrivNote – a single use private note that “self destructs” after it is read.
And that’s it. By this point, you will have a verified Mt Gox account, a Silk Road account, a Tor client and browser and a PGP encryption tool, and you’re good to go. You should be now sat looking at the front page of the Silk Road, which will look something like this:
I’ve not gone into a much detail as I could here, simply because there’s quite a lot to go through. If you are really interested in being able to access and use this unique resource, then you’re going to have to go through a bit of effort yourself to figure it out. A much more in-depth guide can be found here if you get stuck.
Also of note, there are many more sites on the Tor network than the Silk Road. Political dissidents in militant countries often use the network to communicate with the outside world anonymously, and there are even other sites such as the BlackMarket Reloaded, which step up the illegal shenanigans another notch by offering guns and explosives for sale.
If my blog suddenly disappears after posting this, then it’s because WordPress have taken objection and removed it. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve taken someone’s blog off the air – it’s one of the downsides of not being self hosted. I’ve backed everything up, and I’ve got a server of my own ready to go should it be needed.