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World’s Biggest Darknet Marketplace Shuts Down

Introduction

Hydra Market, one of the biggest hubs on the Dark Web for illicit activity, was recently dismantled by US and German investigators that worked together to bring down what used to be the world’s biggest dark cyber-marketplace.

What is a dark marketplace and how did we eliminate one of the largest ones out there?

Dark Marketplaces: The Reality

Cybercriminals are always devising new ways to attack businesses like yours, and you may not even know about some of the latest tricks up their sleeves.

These days, cybercriminals don’t have to be expert hackers themselves. Online, they can buy malware-as-a-service, ransomware kits and bundles of malicious code that even come with customer support to help walk them through how to execute the cyber attack.

That’s why online marketplaces hosted on the darknet are so dangerous: Anyone with money and know-how can arm themselves with cyber-threats, and even get advice on how to use it. People review businesses and browse around just like legitimate online shopping.

Taking Down the Hydra Market

The Hydra marketplace catered mostly to Russian cybercriminals, and was the hotspot where 80% of crypto exchanges on the dark web took place in 2021. It was, until recently, the largest and oldest dark marketplace online, operating steadily since 2015 until April 2022.

The servers facilitated the purchase and sale of illegal services and goods, such as:

  1. Cryptocurrency

  2. Identifying credentials and PII

  3. Financial information

  4. Money laundering

  5. Hacking starter kits, and

  6. much, much more.

Part of why it was so lucrative? Hydra charged commission on all transactions made on their servers and they only operated in cryptocurrency. Since Hydra’s inception, it’s been the source of $5.2B cryptocurrency transactions. At the time of its closure, German officials secured $25M in bitcoin from Hydra’s servers.

Shutting Down Hydra

Securing and shutting down Hydra’s servers happened in conjunction with the arrest of Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, a 30-year-old Russian man. He was charged with operating the Hydra servers and brought up on various counts of fraud and conspiracy charges.

The USA aided German law enforcement in seizing the infrastructure and shutting down the Hydra network. According to German officials, investigations into the dark marketplace started August 2021. Hopefully, taking down Hydra will deter smaller darknet markets from growing so bold in the future.

Conclusion

The Dark Web can be a dangerous place. From buying and selling your personal information, to full-on money laundering and narcotics, there are plenty of ways for cybercriminals to compromise your personal information and just as many reasons to safeguard your data from theft. Additionally, more people are making use of Dark Web monitoring services to automatically scan for and notify them about their stolen credentials, allowing them to react faster to potential breaches and threats.

The successful elimination of the Hydra servers and subsequent arrest of an important administrator will bring awareness to the prolific nature of the dark web and ideally propel more businesses to invest in defensive services. It is possible to defeat these underground marketplaces and protect private data.

References

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