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Deep Sea Market, White House Market, DarkOde. You have likely heard about those. They are virtual trading venues hidden deep on the Dark Web, inaccessible to most users, and engaged in something so illegal and offending that it makes you want to take a shower every time you hear those names. They are dark web marketplaces (DWMs) where all sorts of malicious goods and services are sold and purchased anonymously. Weapons, drugs, counterfeit money, stolen credit cards and SIM cards, child pornography, spyware of every type – it is all there and available to anyone willing to pay with crypto and not ask too many questions.
What are DWMs, and how do they operate?
DWMs are a gateway to the global shadow economy. The first and most popular DWM was the notorious Silk Road, which shut down in 2013 thanks to coordinated international police action. Unfortunately, modern DWMs prove to be highly sustainable ecosystems, resilient to law enforcement efforts, which is why any takedown of a dark marketplace is immediately followed by the launch of an alternative DWM.
DWMs operate in a manner similar to any regular clear web marketplace, such as Amazon or eBay. There are buyers and sellers, goods and services are exchanged for money – mostly, Bitcoin – and traders get ratings to prove their credibility to potential customers. The DWM is an intermediary that secures the deal between the seller and the customer. The payment first comes to the marketplace and, once the buyer confirms the reception of goods, the market sends the money to the seller.
How dangerous are Dark Web Marketplaces?
The information sold on the Dark Web can extremely confidential and damaging for individuals as well as for companies and governmental agencies. The following statistics can give you a general idea of exactly how much of a threat DWMs are:
- Every 11 seconds, there is a ransomware attack facilitated by the Dark Web.
- In 2019, cybercrime activities generated over $1.5 trillion in annual revenue.
- Over 2 million daily users access the Dark Web via the Tor browser.
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