A blog post by Blockchain firm Chainalysis has intimated that Eastern Europe exerts a disproportionately major presence in the darknet economy than any other region in the world – accounting for massive volumes in dark web and ransomware activity in 2020.
The excerpt for a soon-to-be-released Chainalysis report titled Eastern Europe: High Grassroots Adoption, Outsized Darknet Market and Ransomware Activity reflected on findings made by researchers who sought to elucidate the current status of crypto and ransomware volumes by region.
According to the study, 1.4 percent of Eastern Europe’s $41 billion worth of crypto transaction was sent to illegal entities. The statistic placed the region in second place to Latin America whose total transaction volume sent to illicit outfits stood at 1.6 percent.
The blockchain company reported the prominence of Eastern European cyber machinery in the global ransomware economy.
The region is considered to be riddled with some of the most profitable ransomware entities that received 23 percent of the ransomware crypto transfers made globally.
The researchers at Chainalysis asserted that the illicit darknet markets were largely responsible for the absorption of Eastern Europe’s cryptocurrency sent over a period of one year. This finding provided an indication that a significant portion of the digital funds were paid to dark web vendors across the region’s darknet marketplaces.
Importantly, while Eastern Europe takes the largest portion of the pie in the context of global darknet market activity by region, the report highlighted that the dark web market Hydra takes sixth place in rankings of the region’s crypto services (See below).
Hydra Market is Eastern Europe's sixth-largest crypto service (Source: Chainalysis)
Hydra Market ranks among the top websites dealing in darknet wares to satisfy the Eastern European market.
It is the largest Russian-language dark web platform in existence, and has recently reported its plans to expand into the English-speaking demographic of the criminal underground.
Indeed, the fact that the market is rising to become a powerful and experienced darknet stakeholder cannot be ignored – with the expansion efforts seeming to reflect on the site’s overall performance in the recent past despite the economic effects related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, Chainalysis estimates that Hydra’s activities generated revenues to the tune of $1.2 billion in cryptocurrency – the figures were noted between June 2019 and July 2020.
Moving forward, if the new version of Hydra market commences activities, it would occupy would easily occupy an important position in the English-language segment of the cybercriminal world.
Dark web analysts have noted the huge momentum wielded by the Hydra team and the current dark web circumstances may offer an opportune moment for the Eastern European darknet powerhouse to reach even greater heights.
Expectedly, the rest of the darknet community will be forced to react to a Hydra-led future. It is very hard to tell how such a response will look like – whether the antagonist platforms will accept fair competition in the markets or fight.
Crypto Adoption in Eastern Europe: Russia and Ukraine Lead the Way
Finally, the Chainalysis report acknowledged the Eastern European’s high levels of crypto adoption meant for legitimate economic uses.
Details from the Chainalysis Global Crypto Adoption Index 2020 placed Ukraine and Russia at the top of the list of countries witnessing significant adoption of crypto assets.
According to the index, about 85 percent of all Eastern European crypto transfers were designated as “professional-sized” transactions exceeding the $10,000 mark.
The figures presented in the report showed that Russia had sent billions of dollars’ worth of digital currency and received the same form of funds in the billions.
The same observation was made in the context of Ukraine, with both countries seeming to perform exceptionally well on crypto adoption despite the size of their populations and economies.