Hydra, an underground dark web marketplace, was shut down by German IT authorities this week. The German operation included an international cast, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Department of Justice, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
(Original File Source – in German language)
The IT seizure also included several hundred Bitcoin valued at approximately $25 million.
According to some sources, Darknet markets increased revenues to almost $2 billion in 2020. The fastest grower in this illicit marketplace was Hydra which serves only Russian-speaking countries and accounts for 75% of the Darknet market revenue. (While I won’t delve into it fully here, the linked source goes into an interesting and deep examination of Hydra and how it works.)
This means that while the $25 million worth of Bitcoin that was seized was $25 million less in the hands of cybercriminals, there still is a ton of money out there in the hands of bad actors.
The US Treasury got into the action as well, dropping sanctions on Hydra and affiliates. They define darknets as follows (taken from their site):
Darknets are Internet-based networks that individuals use special software to access in a manner designed to obscure the individuals’ identity and their associated Internet activity. Marketplaces that reside on the darknet almost exclusively accept virtual currency as payment for a large range of illegal services and goods, including ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). Virtual currency is often the payment method of choice on darknet marketplaces because illicit actors who transact on the darknet often incorrectly believe virtual currencies to be an anonymous and untraceable means of exchange. Ransomware payments are also often demanded in virtual currency for similar reasons.
According to the BBC, this is the latest in a tough series of events for darknets. However, that means the good guys are winning a few; we all live in a bit safer virtual world today. Still, this is a small drop in the bucket when it comes to truly curbing the influence of cybercrime.
It falls on each of us, in our personal and professional lives, to do our part in maintaining a defense to at least make the jobs of the cybercriminals more difficult. If you’re not sure whether or not your business is up to the challenge, give us a call or CONTACT US and we can set up a consultation with our team of IT security experts to ensure you are aware of what’s going wrong and what’s going right for your organization.