DPR: Not so dread inspiring but surely now full of dread….
No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Ulbricht.
Well the news cycle exploded this week with the arrest of Ross Ulbricht aka DPR or if you like The Dread Pirate Roberts of Princess Bride and now Silk Road fame. The schadenfreude here had been epic as the criminal empire that was one of the largest in the darknet was taken down because the “pirate” could not comprehend how to carry out OPSEC properly. What lead to this guy’s demise was some good old fashioned internet gumshoe work by an SA who also worked on the Sabu case back last year. Ross it seems decided to use his personal Gmail address for postings pimping Silk Road as well as other assets that tied it all together digitally back to him. Not the best of OPSEC here Ross.
I challenge you to a battle of wits.
Anyway Ross had an idea and that idea was pretty interesting in that he wanted to use the darknet to have a Libertarian nirvana of commerce for just about anything. He set up his site, maintained it himself for a time, and then began to realize that he could not do it alone and this is where things start to go wrong. You see, when you run something yourself you only have yourself to deal with. When you start bringing in people to work for you and they know things about you (and you will always slip up here and give things away unless you are a trained spook) and that makes them a liability to your Operational Security. Ross learned this the hard way I suppose in that he started to feel that people needed to be whacked because they knew too much.
Meanwhile the OPSEC failures that Ross had made were steadily creeping up on him. So too were the UC’s on Silk Road who worked their way into the boards making deals and gaining his trust. In the end Ross decided that one of the UC’s was actually a cool Huggy Bear kind of guy and asked him to whack one of his administrators who he felt was a threat… OOOPS! If it’s one thing a Dread Pirate should know is to “Trust No One” but Ross I guess did not read that lesson in his Econ Theory classes. I guess it’s just another pointer I would make to all of you would be Pirates or Ninja’s out there … You can’t trust anyone. Oh, and yeah unless you are trained for this at say Langley or maybe Академия федеральной службы безопасности Российской Федерации you are more than likely to fuck up majorly and end up in the clink with Ross and many others. I have to say though that the idea of using the darknet and all the means that Ross had put together was a pretty good plan. The only real hitch was that he never took into account that he was going to be going up against a nation state(s) and they always win.
Hey, at least he didn’t fall for that land war in Asia thing right? …..
Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?
So Ross went on to become the ersatz Walter White of the darknet until one day at his apartment in San Fran his doorbell rang. At the door was ICE/DHS and they had an interesting package for him in their hands. The package was full of ID’s with his face on them but not his name and when asked about them according to the complaint/affidavit his answer was “Anyone could get documents like these online at places like Silk Road” which let me tell you Ross, isn’t the thing you want to be saying here. After some questions and answers it seems the ICE/DHS folks went away which is confusing to me. First off, I surmize that the ICE Q&A was just a front for the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Ross but really, why tip their hand like that? If I were Ross I would have closed the door, waved at the feds through the window, watched them leave and RAN to my system to have a fire sale at Silk Road. I would have chosen a new DPR and been on my way to a non extradition country but ol’ Ross?
Ross instead of cutting and running doubled down! He went on to do an interview with Forbes and continued on his way doing the business of being the “Dread Pirate” which let me tell you son, was one of the most ballsy and stupid things I have seen since Barrett Brown on camera threatened federal officers lives. Ross what were you thinking? I mean damn dude, did you really think you were Walter White? Oh well I guess time will tell as interviews are carried out or data dumps come from the feds as we go along slouching toward a plea bargain. Perhaps though your cognitive dissonance between personae online and offline just sort of short circuited you out and you couldn’t do anything other than carry on thinking you were covered.
Time will tell… But let this be a lesson to all you would be Pirates out there. You may call yourself a pirate or a ninja or even a Ninja Pirate but you really are just some shmuck with a grandiose sense of the self instilled in you by your helicopter parents who always told you just how fucking special and magnificent you were. So as you sit in federal pound you in the ass prison Ross take heart, for I am sure there will be another DPR someday in the darknets ….Sailing the dark digital waters with the shrieking eels that will some day end up in the cell next to yours where you can commiserate.