The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was followed by a spate of noticeable ramifications across various economic spectra. Still, even as traditional stock markets took a hit from the crisis, darknet markets responded differently – they thrived.
A host of expert analyses have highlighted the exponential growth of darknet marketplaces since the start of the pandemic, with particular observations being made on the rise in the number of first-time dark web market users.
As it stands, Empire Market tops the list of the largest ecommerce sites across the hidden web. The existing wave of social media and darknet forum discussions highlight the platform’s significance as a go-to destination for darknet products and services.
According to an anonymous Tor researcher who doubles up as the darknet analysts behind the dark.fail web portal, Empire Market sprung back online on July 11 after a long outage. A Twitter post by the analyst shared the news and intimated that the darknet market’s DDoS filter remained online after Empire Markets recovery from an 18-hour downtime.
In addition, while speaking to VICE News, the anonymous researcher opined that the community of dark web markets are in a golden age as evidenced by the growth in demand for darknet wares and resultant sales.
Otherwise, even as darknet markets continue to be flooded by users stuck at home, conflicting reports show an expected discrepancy in the supply chain system – darknet shoppers are generally worried about the disruption of postal and mail delivery services amid the COVID-19 global crisis.
Mail Services Affected by COVID-19
A report by Sixgill, a notable cyber intelligence firm, weighed in on dynamics of the darknet economy amid the raging coronavirus pandemic.
The study reported a striking similarity in effects between legitimate online sectors and the darknet ecosystem – with the same patterns of consumer anxiety being observed in both worlds owing to supply chain disruptions.
The uncertain economic climate that accompanied the global public health crisis was reflected on shipping delays, product pricing and the overall state of customer service.
Indeed, the peak of the coronavirus lockdown created major ripples within the mail service industry. Mail sorting players were overloaded, understaffed and swamped with extra work as online sales surged through the roof.
Towards the end of March, industry giants seemed to have encountered a massive disruption in the mail system. As an example, Amazon Prime’s premium next-day delivery service was seen to be experiencing delays, while British retail giants were reported to be experiencing difficulties across their home delivery systems.
The above effect seemed to spread to darknet markets that have long depended on postal systems to maintain clear distribution networks. The weeks that followed the widespread mail disruption were marked with notable darknet vendor worry, caution and postal delays that placed them at crossroads with impatient customers.
Today, it turns out that the biggest concern for darknet market users is the shutdown of postal and shipping services across the world. A large number of posts on the subreddit forum r/darknet have attributed to users’ worry concerning the extent by which drug shipments have been affected by the already-suffering global economy – users seem wary of a worsened future for the mail service industry.
One thread titled “Trump Is Destroying the USPS”, which was locked down by the subreddit’s moderators, seemed to reflect the widespread darknet user concern about the future of the U.S. Postal Service.
Thus, even as the darknet markets seemed to prosper in the past few months, it would be proper to conclude that the only thing standing in the way of unstoppable darknet market success is the massive mail disruption that has accompanied the pandemic’s economic consequences.