The dark web—a part of the internet that can only be accessed through The Onion Router (TOR) network—contains numerous marketplaces for drugs and other illegal activities. After Silk Road, the most notorious of the original darknet marketplaces, was shut down by the FBI in 2013, numerous alternatives have emerged to fill the void. In total, darknet markets facilitate several hundred million dollars in illegal transactions each year, including not only illicit drugs but also counterfeit money, stolen credit card numbers, malware, and illegal services.
Earlier this year, DarkMarket, one of the largest darknet markets, was also shut down and its servers confiscated in a police raid in Oldenburg, Germany. DarkMarket alone facilitated approximately $170 million in illegal sales per year. None-the-less, numerous darknet marketplaces continue to operate, and with no shortage of demand it is unlikely that police will be able to significantly curtail this sector of the black market economy. Dozens of darknet markets are currently operating, including White House Market, Invictus Market, World Market, and Corona Market. Additionally, several darknet forums such as Dread Forum—which do not sell products directly—facilitate the exchange of information often tied to the sale of illegal goods and services.
Transactions on darknet markets are not quite as simple as making a purchase on Amazon, but the process is also not particularly complicated. Generally, purchases must be made with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies such as Monero or Ethereum. As cryptocurrencies become increasingly commonplace, this barrier to use is diminishing. Likewise, while one must know the address of a darknet site and use a special browser such as TOR Browser to access it, several “front doors” to the dark web like dark.fail have made this process quite simple. The increasing simplicity of making darknet purchases is evidenced by the millions of active consumers using the dark web for illicit purchases each year.
The result is that the average tech-savvy consumer now has access to a global marketplace for illicit products and services. The current largest darkmarkets listed on dark.fail include The Majestic Garden, Monopoly Market, White House Market, ToRReZ Market, and forums like Riseup, Endchan, and Dread. (Dark.fail is available on the open web, and is an excellent resource—the links on dark.fail, however, are only functional through TOR). With the easy availability of anonymous, truly secure channels for commerce and communication, it’s no surprise that extremist groups of all stripes are moving to the darknet for communication, coordination, and financing.
Fortunately, Alpha Recon uses both live intelligence analysts and sophisticated darknet scrapers and crawlers to maintain awareness of what transpires on the Dark Web, and routinely incorporates that intelligence into our alerts and products. Contact Alpha Recon today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a demo of our platform, including our Dark Web capabilities.
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