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Silk Road, Tor and the Threat of DDoS

Whenever authorities bust somebody for alleged use of popular software for illegal purposes, there's always the chance digital miscreants will protest with DDoS and other attacks.

That's certainly a possibility after the FBI's arrest of Ross William Ulbricht, known as "Dread Pirate Roberts," alleged operator of Silk Road, a marketplace for illegal drugs. 

According to the Reuters news service, federal prosecutors charged Ulbricht with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

In a Forbes article, writer Andy Greenberg added that authorities seized the Silk Road website along with between $3.5 to 4 million in bitcoins, the cryptographic currency people use to buy drugs on Silk Road. In addition to the use of bitcoins, Ulbricht allegedly used Tor to conduct business.

Tor is free software used for online, anonymous communications. It moves Internet traffic along through a free, global volunteer network using thousands of relays to hide a user's location from those who might try to spy on them via traffic analysis and other methods.

Silk Road and Tor have many loyal users who will no doubt be unhappy with this latest turn of events. Don't be surprised if some of them express their feelings by launching fresh waves of DDoS attacks. The FBI's online resources are an obvious target, but when rage ensues everyone becomes fair game.

Of course, there's always the possibility nothing will happen and I'll be happy if proven wrong. But it's best to be prepared. As always, Akamai will monitor activity for its customers and protect them from what may come.