General News Jun 04, 2021

Inside Hydra Darknet Market’s $1.3 Billion Turnover in 2020

Hydra market’s success is attributed to a number of internal and external…


New research reveals that Hydra dark web market has been dominating the illicit darknet market space since the year 2018.

According to a report that was published by the blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, Hydra market’s operations have significantly expanded since its creation to attain transaction volumes reaching $1.3 billion in 2020.

The last few years have been eventful for the Russian-language dark web marketplace, which saw its activities grow in scale from the turnover of just $9.4 million in 2015.

According to findings of the Chainalysis research, the last three years have been marked by a transaction rise of about 624 percent, with 2020 figures indicating that Hydra market revenue represented for 75 per cent of all dark web activity.

Experts intimate that the platform’s growth has occurred in parallel to the Russian law enforcement endeavor that dismantled RAMP, a known Hydra market competitor – the 2017 takedown of RAMP effectively influenced cybercriminal migration to Hydra.

What Are the Contributing Factors?

The Russian-speaking platform’s success has been attributed to a number of in-house and external conditions that have ensured that the dark web site has stood the test of time. The inevitable demise of rival marketplaces, along with the imposition of strict policies on Hydra vendors, is among the factors that have favored the darknet bazaar.

Essentially, Hydra administrators have also implemented a couple of critical security measures that have enabled its users to operate away from law enforcement interference. It turns out that Hydra transactions are difficult to trace considering the wide range of difficult-to-track Russian currencies that the users are obliged to employ.

The regional financial operators and service providers that are linked to Hydra operations seem to differ sharply from those used by other dark web markets, including ATMs and escrow services.

Otherwise, the fact that Hydra users have since been forced to navigate advanced security and identification protocols imposed by cryptocurrency exchanges has influenced most of them to resort the buried treasure technique in cashing out illicit crypto assets.

The physical cash withdrawal method is enabled by Hydra’s army of couriers, also referred to as “treasure men” who will deliver items bought on the dark web market to a secret location. The method, which has long been used by drug dealers, is now being employed by Hydra market to facilitate the exchange of virtual currency for physical fiat cash.

The Law Enforcement Element

Experts report that Hydra market’s activities have been cushioned by particular mechanisms that have successfully kept the authorities, potential competitors, and other interest groups from disrupting the dark web market.

The platform’s suitability for darknet cybercriminal activity explains why DarkSide ransomware gang, the hacker group that breached Colonial Pipeline, used Hydra for crypto cash-out services.

Importantly, Russian officials have been said to have shown no genuine interest in shutting Hydra market. The aspect reflects on the platform’s rather surprising resilience amid robust law enforcement operations that have since led to the destruction of similar dark web sites like Joker’s Stash.

Interestingly, the only notable downtime in Hydra’s history was during a short time at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 when revenues took a hit for a number of months – the platform was back on track by the month of May the same year.

Flashpoint’s senior analyst Andras Toth-Czifra has reported on the matter by posing the challenge of whether the phenomenon is plain coincidence or an indication of collaboration between Russian authorities and Hydra.

Indeed, considering the high stakes, the longer Hydra market remains in uninterrupted operation, the more realistic it will be for researchers to conclude that the platform enjoys some degree of geopolitical and law enforcement immunity.


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