Russians on the Darknet Part II: Marketplaces & Forums

Interestingly, despite Hydra Market being Russian and serving only Russia and the surrounding countries, in 2019, 31.2% of criminal BTC received by UK exchanges came from Hydra Market. In the Spring 2020 CAML Report, CipherTrace reported to have discovered that 86.8% of all criminal BTC received by Russian exchanges came from Hydra. Some vendors have as few as 2 listings, while others have over 50 listings. There are roughly 4,600 vendors on Hydra—an enormous amount.

To find the forums and marketplaces where the important and relevant is you will need to know what you’re looking for and how to look for it. However, because of the illicit nature of the dark web, many websites don’t want to be found, as such there is no easy way to navigate the dark web. Because of this short lifespan, security professionals need to constantly be on the lookout for the next big marketplace. Each website can be thought of as an independent silo.

Darknet websites rarely, if ever, link to one another. Although White House Market is a smaller marketplace than the others on this list, it is possible that its ultra-security features and simple, easy-to-use UI will quickly attract more vendors. WHITE HOUSE MARKETPLACE (WHM) White House Market is a dark web marketplace that enforces the use of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption to just browse the site. The site goes into detail about its security on the About page and explains that it does not store Monero private keys on their servers, which can ease the mind of its users.

Silk Road was created by Ross Ulbricht in February 2011. By the time it was shut down in October 2013, and Ross Ulbricht arrested, the site had traded an estimated $183 million worth of goods and services. The very first of these marketplaces to pair the darknet with Bitcoin was the Silk Road. Over the next two years, the Silk Road set the standard for darknet marketplaces. Another popular Russian forum and marketplace on Tor is RuTor.

RuTor’s landing page has several distracting advertisements at the top of the site similar to the previously popular RAMP marketplace. RuTor has been an active Tor hidden service since 2015 and has quickly established itself as a reliable information resource for Russian hacking, darknet education, and project collaboration. This is because the onion site does not have any central server. Onion sites are highly effective, and they can help you increase your profits even without using any money.

Everything is done through the servers of other websites that the user visits. Other than drugs and fake identification documents, Hydra offers cash-out services that allow users to swap crypto for gift cards, prepaid debit cards or even cash . These services, coupled with Hydra’s reputation, make the dark market an attractive option for criminals operating in the region. Hydra Dark Market and Ransomware Attacks It is common for some criminals to use dark markets rather than regulated exchanges as fiat off-ramps.

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