Researchers have found out that a number of websites on the dark web like the AlphaBay do actually sell illicit material, but majority of such material they sell are not porn. The dark web is a conglomeration of hidden websites as well as services that can be accessed only by way of the Tor network. Recently published research on the dark web reveals that more than 57 percent of these hidden websites are hosting some kind of illegal content on their sites.
Researchers Thomas Rid and Daniel Moore, both from King’s College in London, created a customized script that was able to parse through as many as 5,025 numbers of live .onion-based websites. They found out that as many as 1,547 sites on the dark web hosted some material or other that can considered as criminal in nature. The leading activity on websites like AlphaBay appears to be centered on drugs. The financial criminal activities come in a close second.
The finding of the dark web researchers is definitely not a shocking revelation. This is because the very nature of the Tor network, which promises security and privacy, tends to attract clandestine type of operators and operations.
Researchers noted that the founders of the Tor network, who are exceedingly idealistic in many ways, appreciate the fact that a better reputation is essential for better security and that a bad reputation often leads to a compromise of security. They also point out that political leaders and law enforcement authorities would target activities that attract a great deal of clientele as Tor seems to do. According to them, it is a difficult and confusing problem. This is because a balance has to be struck in order to ensure that the Tor network continues to exist.
Alphabay is a darknet market that operates on Tor. The darknet market was officially launched on 22nd December 2014. The marketplace was founded by alpha02, a reputable member on most of the carding forums. After helping many carders on carding forums, he started his own marketplace.
The site has seen a steady growth and within the first 90 days, they had as many as 14,000 new users. Gwern.net, the darknet informer website, even placed AlphaBay at the top based on a 6-month survival probability. Digital Citizens Alliance research director Dan Palumbo recognized AlphaBay as the largest among online darknet markets.
AlphaBay allows vendors to sell drugs, stolen credit card information, weapons and many other illegal items in exchange for payments in Bitcoin for the purpose of anonymity. The marketplace allows users to protect their accounts by using what is called Two-Factor Authentication.
AlphaBay processes transactions by means of an Escrow system which is centralized with a view to provide protection to all the buyers. As and when a transaction is initiated, the money is held in the Escrow till the buyers acknowledge the receipt of goods. Additionally, the marketplace offers a decentralized multi-signature system, wherein a private key is released to a seller only upon finalization.
In May 2015, AlphaBay announced the introduction of an integrated escrow system for digital contracts, which allows users to provide services in the future as per the agreed terms of the contract.
AlphaBay Sells both Legal and Illegal Goods and Services
In March 2015, it was reported that AlphaBay sold stolen Uber accounts. The marketplace put on sale data stolen from TalkTalk based in London after the telecommunications company witnessed a major hack in October 2015.
A podcast released by the website CodeBreaker talked about shopping experience on AlphaBay and purchase of legal goods such as pharmaceutical drugs.