Darknet markets provide a myriad of privacy and safety advantages compared to buying illegal substances on the street. The system may be regarded as imperfect, but offers more reliable information to users than that which the street transactions currently exhibit. Cryptomarkets hold the potential to cut down harm that may be caused by traditional drug markets in contrast to the online trade. This is favorable in terms of lower violent crimes connected directly to the drug trade, such as the possibility of being robbed, attacked or murdered. Alpha Bay ranks to be the biggest darknet market today. Drug dealers are grasping the opportunity of closing deals without face-to-face contact, coming up with vendor shops, but not without risks brought about by overlooked digital footprints.
The Tech-Savvy Generation
Last year 2015, Bengaluru police stated how the tech-savvy generation of today is more accustomed to using online services, whereby more people are choosing the online route which lets them buy drugs and distribute it anonymously. Though daunting, it’s actually simple for anybody to do with basic knowledge of the internet and means to hide their IP address. This kind of customer base of darknet shoppers could mean drug sales moving from mainly street-based to becoming an online staple.
This promising lucrativity has led drug dealers to start their own digital shops. A report released by the European drugs agency reveals how they are becoming tech-savvy in line with the rise of the online drug trade. However, it’s evidently not as tech-savvy as those behind the main sites such as Alpha Bay which remains functional as of today. The slightest fault could pave the way towards enforcement agents utilizing data to filter out and track the drug deals to individual computers.
With police keeping up with technology as well, sites on the dark web can be unpredictable and its life may be cut short anytime. It’s not only law enforcement operations that present a bumpy ride but downtime and exit scams that present both buyers and sellers added worry about its owners and their hidden plans.
Dark Web Criminals Make Human Mistakes
Staying anonymous on the dark web is a constant challenge to overcome, even with the help of anonymizing networks such as Tor and regardless of stature and tenure as drug vendor or administrator.
Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road apparently asked for help in a forum in relevance to the site, who then posted his personal email address in the process. Blake Benthall, alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, made the life-changing act of registering a server under his own name. Another sloppiness or audacity, or anything you want to call it, tells of a suspected drug dealer who attempted to trademark his brand under his own name.
It’s been further unraveled how some illegal sites are leaking identifying information about the owners. A site run by Doctor Drugs is hosted on the same server as “The Polish Connect,” another hidden service that may lead to the vendor’s location. The Outlaw Market forum,mostly offering drugs, has its “server status” page exposed, by which anybody can see technical information about the site. The Real Deal offering computer exploits, and Charlie UK (a site own by a cocaine dealer) had the same issues; while Rechard Sport counterfeit goods vendor, The Intelligent Black Market, and The French Connection had their own. These indiscretions put both dealers and buyers at risk, a common mistake by drug dealers switching from selling on marketplaces to starting their own digital shops, compared to more secure dark web marketplaces such as Alpha Bay.
Thanks to OnionScan, a custom tool that serves the purpose of making sites a better onion service provider, these issues such as image data, open directories, and exposed server status pages have been discovered. It was developed by independent security researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis.
With some common sense and proper research prior to utilizing marketplaces, like Alpha Bay who puts a focus on security and protection, one can save themselves from the headaches and all the trouble.
The Biggest Darknet Market
One of the stories on the dark web that shook its community must be the exit scam of the Evolution marketplace. The site owners created a stable community and became a prime contender that’s capable of replacing Silk Road, right before they shut down and disappeared with $12 million worth of users bitcoins. Despite the turmoil, other darknet sites like Alpha Bay stood strong.
Alpha Bay was founded by alpha02, reputable carder and carding forum member who has helped others through their concerns. He then decided to start his own marketplace, which has gained massive popularity and displayed a huge growth spurt in a relatively short time. The Alpha Bay site has its own categories and two streamlined and distinguished groups of users, buyers, and vendors. What makes the Alpha Bay distinctive among the rest of its competitors is the increased security levels the admin has implemented on the site.
Just recently, Alpha Bay beefed up its online security protocols and has announced as well that they would start enforcing stronger security measures. The latest security tactics involve pin based logins and 2FA or Two-Factor authentication. They aim to give their users protection against phishing attacks and possible hacking of user accounts, which works to both purchasers and sellers’ advantage and the long life of the Alpha Bay marketplace.