Stolen Data For Sale On The Darknet

It is not so rare to find the stories in the news of identity thefts being perpetrated or large databases with personal information being hacked. While personal information are being stolen on a daily basis it often begs the question, what is this data used for?

stolen data
First of all, there are several types of personal data “packages” that can be bought on darknet markets each having their own bitcoin price, but the most popular ones are the full data sets consisting of anything from name and address to social security number, called “fullz.” These fullz are usually obtained in large numbers by performing hacks on databases of companies that deal in finance, social security or insurance and it is not uncommon to see them put up for sale days after news of data breach is reported.

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stolen data
Fullz can go anywhere from few Satoshi to a full bitcoin or two, depending on what information they provide and who said information belongs to. One thing that is mostly looked for and which greatly increases the bitcoin value of fullz is if credit card information is usable or not. While there are some buyers who will deliberately go for “dead” credit card information, in most cases, fullz with proper, working credit card information will go for a much more bitcoin than dead ones. The credit card limit is also one of the deciding factors when creating a price in bitcoin for personal data. It was reported that some fullz went for as much as 2 Bitcoin, since the data obtained belonged to somebody who had a $10,000 spending limit on their card.

stolen data
While carding, term for stealing credit card information, is quite advanced and wide spread on Russian part of the darknet where it can fetch a hefty sum of bitcoin, it seems that the English-speaking community is much less prone to it. There is also the inherent distrust towards carders that makes selling carded information not too spread on English marketplaces, due to which only a handful of marketplaces, like AlphaBay Marketplace actually sells them to begin with.

AlphaBay Come Back From A Downtime With New Infrastructure

Earlier last week the admins of AlphaBay have posted a message on their subreddit saying that the market will be put offline for approximately 24 hours in order to improve its infrastructure in anticipation of Agora refugees.

Reddit DarkNet Market New Interface
Ever since the biggest market on darknet, Agora, announced a temporary shutdown, there were many vendors and buyers alike who started looking for a new darknet marketplace that will offer them stability and consistency. Due to this, many marketplaces started getting a good amount of new users migrating from Agora and in light of that are experiencing problems with load on their servers. One of the biggest contenders to Agora, AlpaBay, has obviously been the place of choice for many people and as such has suffered the most strain on their servers due to a sudden increase in traffic.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

Reddit Alphabay Market New Interface
For this reason it seems that admins decided to inconvenience everybody for a higher goal and shutdown the site temporarily before optimizing it to suite the new community. The service was down for a little more than 24 hours and the downtime was thoroughly explained on AlphaBay’s forum and subreddit. There were also improvements to AlphaBay’s wallet infrastructure and a new hot wallet was created to replace old ones. The old wallet left online for 3 days in case somebody sends their bitcoin there by mistake, but getting your funds back from it will take time since the process will have to be carried out manually. Escrow timers and auto-completions were also extended by 48 hours to compensate for the time lost.

Another important thing to note is that it was reported that AlphaBay Market will be giving free vendor bonds to vendors that decide to migrate from Agora. This will serve as an enticement for major Agora vendors to transfer to AlphaBay earning them more customers in the process. While AlphaBay admins are aware that this will also make the scammers try to abuse the system, they are confident that their ScamWatch team will be able to mitigate it to minimum with the help of the community. AlphaBay admins are urging their users to be extra vigilant at this time to avoid being scammed and are advising them to report any suspicious activity on the Scam Reports section of their forum as soon as they notice it.

new interface
Despite the fact that marketplace downtimes are usually followed closely by false accusations of scamming and bad reputation for the market it seems that AlphaBay users are actually pleased with the results of the latest updates. According to AlphaBay’s subreddit, users are reporting that the site’s speed has increased multiple times and that the improvement in service was well worth the wait. While there are still those that were inconvenienced by the downtime, many are reporting satisfaction and positive reviews from the new service.

All of this will just serve to put AlphaBay one step closer to overcoming Agora, especially now since more and more Agora users are deciding to move to AlphaBay which is sure to increase its community exponentially. All that is left is to wait and see whether Agora will recover from their reported technical issues or will AlphaBay Market manage to take its community over in the meantime.

AlphaBay Marketplace Added New And Unique Features

With all the recent news circling the Darknet on exit-scams and market shutdowns it is a refreshing thing to see some of the markets not only managing to stay afloat, but actually releasing new features to help its users promote themselves better. It seems that AlphaBay has recently become a synonym for new features and while some users are not really happy with the market paying so much attention to “unneeded detail”, AlphaBay staff does not show signs of stopping their feature streak any time soon.

The two features that were released by AlphaBay Marketplace, as I previously mentioned, the goal of helping the users promote themselves in two ways. These are Sticky Listings and Sticky Topics. As the name suggests the first feature will be implemented directly to the market, while the second one will be usable on AlphaBay forum.

  ==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

AlphaBay – Sticky Listings

Alphabay Sticky Listing

The Sticky Listing feature will offer the option to highlight one of your listings for a limited time. If a vendor has some listing that he would particularly like to share with his customers or a new product enters his stock, they can make that listing “sticky” by going to their Listings page and clicking the Sticky button. After that they will be prompted to choose the time they want to make their listing sticky for. There are 3 possibilities for now and each of them has their own price depending on the amount of time wanted. The options are as follows: USD $120 for 7 days, USD $180 for 15 days or USD $300 for 30 days. After making their listing sticky, it will show among the top search results for the given category, thus making it more visible to potential buyers.

AlphaBay – Sticky Topics


The second feature is Sticky Topics. What they do is very similar with the exception that the first feature is made for the market and the second will be active on forums. After paying the fee (USD $150 for 30 days, USD $300 for 60 days or USD $450 for 90 days) the forum topic of your choice will be market as sticky and will appear in the top of the forum section where it is located. It is important to note that Sticky Topics are as of now only available for Listings Review section of the forum as to prevent the abuse of the feature.

The two new features have run into mixed feelings from the users of AlphaBay Marketplace, which is evident from the recent post on their subreddit and other forums. There are some users who believe that giving the ability to list low-quality products or vendors above the reputable ones for a fee is contradictory to the feedback system that was set up earlier and has shown good results. The other side of debate welcomes these AlphaBay features as a unique way to advertise if used correctly and could increase profits to some vendors.

Despite the split judgment of the AlphaBay users regarding the recent features, it seems that the market staff has no plans to stop rolling out improvements to the site, both aesthetic and practical.

The Darknet And Alphabay Marketplace

Darknet And Alphabay

Ever since the famous Silk Road takedown, it seems that the darknet has gained a lot of “unwanted” attention from the general public. The issue would not be as bad if a lot of people weren’t looking at darknet with an already created prejudiced view gained from listening to news about Silk Road. While there is a lot of criminal activity happening on the darknet it is not really a rumored “underworld” of the net where bad things can befall you the moment you “connect” to it.

Let us start from the very basics of what the “Darknet” really is. As some of you may know, there is a very big portion of the internet called the deep web consisting of unindexed data. This is essentially the data that Google, Yahoo and other browsers do not or cannot access generally due to it being intangible and not directly relevant to what users are searching for. One part of the deep web however is made up of websites such as the AlphaBay sitethat are intentionally “hidden” from browsers and that is what darknet is. These sites like AlphaBay have no regular URLs and therefore require special software to be accessed. And since you cannot search for those sites like AlphaBay you need to already know their address from an outside source. Essentially you need an invitation.

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AlphaBay – Tor

The above mentioned “special software” needed for accessing sites like AlphaBay is Tor browser. When connecting to internet using Tor your signal will be rerouted several times through the nodes making your IP harder to track and appear the same as that of the last or “exit” node instead of the one assigned to your computer. While this offers some degree of anonymity, your ISP can still see that you are using Tor browser and a persistent investigator can track you even if you are using Tor.

TOR Browser

This is where VPNs become useful. What VPNs do is they create an encrypted tunnel through which a user can connect to the internet, so your ISP only sees where you have “entered” the tunnel, but not where you are going or where you exited. The only one that knows this is the VPN service provider and you always want to choose the one that keeps no logs of its users’ activities. If that is the case there is 99% certainty that you are indeed anonymous on the web when using both Tor and said VPN.

Now that you have connected to your VPN of choice and fired up your Tor browser you will be welcomed by Tor’s starting page. After some inspection you will realize that Tor is pretty much the same as your everyday browser. You can even use it for your day-to-day browsing, albeit the speed will be much slower. With all this it is obvious that you are still connected to the “ordinary” internet or clearnet. So how do you connect on the darknet and accessed sites like AlphaBay?

Well, you cannot connect to it in the literal meaning of the word. You can only visit specific sites that are part of it since the whole point of darknet is that it is unconnected. If you search the clearnet for some links you will find a number of sites offering them to their visitors. There are also several subreddits of sites like AlphaBay that have all sorts of information on the topic. You do not have to visit any sites that have anything to do with illegal actions, but chances are you will run into some of them nonetheless. Aside from offering a relatively safe ground for illicit activity, the darknet is also used by activists and information traders from countries that are prosecuting and controlling the freedom of speech. This is the reason for a number of blogs on darknet that have information you will not see on clearnet. There are also sites which use darknet for secure information drop-off for any potential whistle-blowers (think E. Snowden controversy and you got the right idea). But like with anything, take it with a grain of salt since there is false information on darknet like on every other form of media.

AlphaBay Marketplace

For those who are looking for the notorious darknet markets like AlphaBay Marketplace (for research purposes obviously) there is a number of lists on clearnet where you can get the .onion links to them. AlphaBay has seen an especially good growth rate over the course of its lifetime, mainly due to the professionalism put into it. And that is another thing;darknet markets like the AlphaBay aren’t a rag-tag construction of throw-away code like you would imagine something that needs to be abandoned quickly would be. There are markets out there, like AlphaBay, that could stand toe-to-toe with clearnet markets design and feature-wise.

Alphabay Home

AlphaBay – Bitcoin

One thing you are sure to notice when visiting darknet markets such as the AlphaBay Marketplace is that all AlphaBay transactions done there are conducted using “Bitcoin.”By using bitcoin you can purchase goods or services from sites like AlphaBay without anybody knowing your identity. If handled properly,bitcoin can leave no trace of its user’s information at all and this is why it has become the currency of choice on darknet markets like AlphaBay.

Whether it is illegal or legal actions it seems that darknet is getting more and more attention from the general public. While the opinion on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing does exist, many visitors are just “passers-by” that heard about it and want to check it out. The problem is that many people have a bad impression of it, usually created by the notion that only offenders visit these pages and fail to realize that darknet offers the only possibility for somebody to freely express their views. But as long as mainstream media continues to report only on the bad aspects of darknet, this opinion is unlikely to change.

The Deep Web And The Darknet Hidden Services

It seems like only yesterday when most people where browsing the internet, blissfully unaware of what is happening underneath its surface. Then the media realized there is an interesting story to be told there and thus series like House of Cards was created, followed by an “in-depth” story on the Deep Web and Silk Road’s downfall.

What this did is create an unnecessary confusion over the terms “Deep Web” and “Darknet”(or Dark Net) and the things these terms represent. The mistake here was the use of said terms interchangeably, probably caused by the lack of research done on their history.

The term “Deep Web” was actually coined by Mike Bergman and the company Bright Planet as a name for unindexed part of the web. To understand this better one would first need to understand the way in which search engines look for content. For a search engine like Google or Yahoo any content not connected to something via a link is practically non-existent. This includes dynamically created pages like, a Gmail account or information you need to use the site’s search box (which search engines cannot do) to find. This being said, it is clear that about 96% of the web can in fact be considered “Deep Web”.

deep webThe misconception was created when people wrongfully started using the term “Deep Web” to describe what is known as “Darknet”. The difference here lies in the fact that while Deep Web is unindexed due to technical inabilities of a search engine, the content on the darknet is purposefully hidden from the surface net. While there are numerous ways to hide content on web, the one most commonly used by users is through the use of Tor or The Onion Router.

This is specialized software used to access sites with hidden content which can be recognized by having an “.onion” suffix in the URL. It was first created by the US Navy as a way to encrypt data and increase anonymity, but since all the data was sent from the US Navy and to US Navy the project was abandoned and shared with the public due to obvious lack of practicality. The way Tor works is by having a network of computers become “nodes” through which users are rerouted when making a search query. This makes their IP change every time it jumps from node to node making it increasingly difficult to track. While this system is very strong it still has its vulnerabilities and should not be takes as completely untraceable. The main thing to note about browsing the darknet with Tor is that it differs from conventional Internet browsing. Since it is unindexed, you cannot type the name of the web page in the browser and hope to get a list of pages that match your query. Instead, you need to have the link to the page given to you by somebody who already visited the site in order to be able to enter it. There is no comprehensive index of websites residing on the deep web. Some have built small lists of deep web links.

This system however opens the possibility for a whole new world, or rather “underworld” on the internet. By creating special randomized URL’s that can only be read by Tor, a completely different community has appeared fueled by anonymity. Any black-market good from stolen credit card information to firearms and drugs can be found on the darknet. Another thing that became synonymous with it was “hacking” or rather “cracking” for those who have term preferences. The anonymity that the darknet has to offer makes it a haven for those looking to offer their “technical knowledge” as a service, but also those praying on less tech-savvy people, looking to relieve them of their credit card and personal information.

tor browserThe most common places where one could find illegal goods being marketed are the darknet markets. After the downfall of the biggest and most notorious online black market, the Silk Road, many new contestants began to battle for the top place. In the upcoming period hundreds of marketplaces where created and brought down continuously, mainly due to newly found mistrust in the safety of Tor and darknet in general. One other thing that this created was the rise of false marketplaces and opportunities for scammers. The most notorious story one will hear on the darknet is the one revolving around the Evolution marketplace’s exit scam. The owners of said site created a stable community and were one of the prime contenders to replace Silk Road before closing the site and disappearing with $12 million of their customer’s Bitcoins. After this incident the darknet market community was severely shaken, but despite that it still remains functional on sites like AlphaBay, Agora, and Nucleus.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are some sites on the darknet that contain child pornography and other disturbing content. This is the one major downfall with the darknet because while it gives a place for free thinkers, political activists, drug users and anyone else that cherishes their privacy, a place to be open and free it does also give the same liberties to the sick and twisted scum of the earth pedophile’s.

With all the illegal actions taking place and questionable content being posted on the darknet, it is easy to forget the good sides of such a place. For example it offers a possibility for uncensored freedom of speech for countries where governments are stricter regarding their media. It also offers a safe place for people to exchange information and stories with the media and between each other, anonymously.

To summarize, the difference between Deep Web and Darknet, while not too big still exists and lies within their scope. The Deep web is the entire wealth of information unindexed by search engines for one reason or another. The Darknet however, is actually a small fragment of the Deep Web, artificially hidden from the search engines and usually connected to illegal actions.

While both Deep Web and Darknet terms are relatively new and still evolving, it is important to use them properly now more than ever to raise technical awareness of the public and avoid misinformation as much as possible.

The Anonymous Virtual Currency “Bitcoin”

bitcoinBitcoin is largely considered the first decentralized cryptocurrency created. It was published as an invention by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and it was released as open-source software in 2009. While there were systems similar to it before it was published, Bitcoin has brought about a revolution in online economy and has inspired the creation of multiple other cryptocurrencies.

What makes Bitcoin one of the favorite means of payment online is the fact that while today’s economy largely relies on big banks, Bitcoin does not, since it is a completely decentralized system to begin with. This means that no single person, corporation or country has control over the Bitcoin market and nobody can claim them unlawfully. This is possible due to Bitcoin system’s design, making it essentially one big, virtual ledger. Everybody can access it through specialized software and since it is open-source, everybody can check it out to make sure that it does exactly what its creators said it would.

The primary way one can get a hold of Bitcoin is through mining them. While normal currencies are based on gold or silver reserves, Bitcoin are based on mathematical algorithms. By allowing your computer to be used for solving complex mathematical calculations using the Bitcoin software you are carrying out an action known as “mining”. Your computer is essentially helping in finalizing transactions which are part of Bitcoin block-chain earning you a small part of transaction fees which are translated into Bitcoin of value equal to the amount of your contribution. As its name suggest the block-chain is a structure made of Bitcoin blocks, lists of transactions happening all over the world. The block is updated regularly and its updates are sent to all miners working on it.

The way miners work on a block is by applying a set mathematical algorithm to it and gaining a so-called “hash” out of it. It is very easy to create a hash out of a block and computers can perform this task very rapidly. To make sure that the amount of available Bitcoin does not become too large, developers designed a way to make mining more difficult the more coins are mined out. This is done by prompting the miners’ computers to create a hash with specific properties which differ for every hash needed. Another important thing when mining for Bitcoin is “nonce”.  When Bitcoin block is hashed along with a “nonce” it should give a set output and unless one does not get that exact output, the “nonce” is incorrect and searched for again. Since “nonce” is checked in order from 0 upwards, it takes a considerable amount of time to find the right one.

A thing to note about Bitcoin is the anonymity involved with making transactions with them. To store Bitcoin, one needs only a personal address of their wallet. While everybody can tell how much Bitcoin there are on a certain address, no one is able to tell who the address belongs to. If one uses different Bitcoin addresses constantly and never deposit Bitcoin from different addresses into a single one, there is virtually no way to trace who the Bitcoin belong to.

It is for this reason that Bitcoin have become the primary currency when doing any form of business on Darknet. Due to illicit nature of many actions conducted on darknet markets it is vital that its users remain anonymous. There are multiple ways to protect one’s Bitcoin when dealing with unknown vendors, but one should always make sure to deal with reputable people before giving away their personal information. It is also important to note that there are numerous phishing sites around darknet, praying on inexperienced people and their Bitcoin wallets.

The most important thing is not to use the same account information twice and to make sure that the information you give does not link to any of your personal information. More than 80% of reported scams on darknet are nothing more than inexperienced users giving away their information to phishing sites, just to find their Bitcoin taken away by somebody.

Lately the Bitcoin has begun to take heavy criticism of their privacy policy, mainly due to their block-chain being public and accessible by anybody. It is for this reason that many people contemplated switching over to a different cryptocurrency like Altcoin or Darkcoin. The problem that has risen from this was somewhat counterintuitive to what one might think happened. Since the two above mentioned crypocurrencies have a “hidden”, encrypted block they raise more suspicion about the people using them. Firstly, there is the mentality that, it is obvious that if somebody would go to such lengths to protect their identity they must be hiding something.

Bitcoin-CryptocurrencyThe second thing needs a little bit more explanation. It is obvious that for those looking to hide something, it is the best option to increase possible suspects as much as possible. If there is only information that the suspect is using Bitcoin to conduct business it is not too helpful since millions of people are doing so just to buy a coffee at a local coffee shop or order something over the internet. The amount of people using other, more anonymous cryptocurencies is much lower, meaning less people to sift through if one was to look for you. So, essentially the decreased anonymity of Bitcoin has made it much safer and less suspicious to use than other, safer cryptocurrency options.

The only real problem that users of Bitcoin face, which greatly affects small vendors on darknet is its volatility or constantly changing value. For a small business, a single Bitcoin, with its value changing by tens or hundreds of dollars on a weekly basis can make a difference between making a profit and losing money. This is the primary reason why people are looking into alternative payment options, but so far none has offered the benefits that Bitcoin does.

If we sum it all up it is clear that Bitcoin will remain the currency of choice for darknet market users as long as its benefits outweigh the risks, but if a good alternative appears in the future, there is no doubt that it will be accepted with open arms.