You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

editorial

Silk Road case: Detective work pays off

Continue reading below

Advances in encryption and other Internet technologies always had the potential to create an explosion of Web-based crime. But the recent prosecution of Ross Ulbricht and the shuttering of Silk Road, the illicit online emporium he is accused of creating, makes it clear that even sophisticated cybersuspects are vulnerable to dogged police work.

Under the protection of state-of-the-art technology, Silk Road users could buy and sell anything from narcotics to fake IDs online. As a further precaution, all purchases were conducted with bitcoins, an online currency that facilitates anonymous transactions and can be exchanged for US dollars. The FBI estimates that between 2011 and 2013, a total of $1.2 billion changed hands on Silk Road.

But ultimately, detectives found a way to bring Silk Road down. Using information gathered by staking out online chat rooms and by intercepting a package full of fake IDs in Canada, authorities connected Silk Road’s IP address to an Internet cafe in San Francisco and, ultimately, to Ulbricht himself. Those concerned that Internet crime will lead to intrusive online dragnets — and those who advocate for more latitude for law enforcement online — should take note of how the FBI finally caught Ulbricht: The power of deduction is just as effective against cybersuspects as it is on the streets.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.