Darkmarket fear: Hysterics or understandable concern?

3 minute read

Posted by: David Cornwish </a></span>

November 13, 2015

Fear, it seems, is the mission-creep now invading the darknet . It appears that dark markets, the narco-types, are fearful of taking the top slot. But why?

History tells them, and us, that if you put your head over the parapet you’ll find yourself the main target. When Agora went offline the other markets in 2nd 3rd etc. places, by default, were expected and by expectations should have taken up the slack. This scenario has not really happened.

The rational behind the other markets seem to be twofold: 1. No-one wants to be number one as that slot automatically makes them the top FBI target for a take-down (this being great for the Fed’s PR machine) and 2. The extra DDOS attacks and server pressure from taking up the slack of Agora immigrants is a hit they would rather not suffer from their bottom-line BTC profit. Thus the double-whammy of being a target and having to fork out more of their profits has the causation of what we are now seeing; markets such as Middle Earth going off citing security concerns and a, by all accounts, take-it-and-run policy by certain other top markets, though the latter may well be rumors but certainly not without precedence.

Rumours? The onion-grapevine has been very active, not least on sites such as DeepDotWeb. From an unknown drugs cartel giving the green light to a ‘lesson’ offering a 500k Euro ‘reward’ for Gandalf of their feedback here on DDW is riddled with warnings and anecdotal evidence so as to make even the most fearless vendor empty their Nucleus-wallet.

Other possibilities? Of course. The current state of dark markets makes us all conspiracy theorists as, due to their very nature, dark markets are, well, dark. Covert. Thus, who can really say, without doubt, that one or more markets have not ‘flipped’ – that the owners have been arrested and the entire site, rather than having a typical THIS HIDDEN SITE HAS BEEN SEIZED notice, courtesy of our usual friendly three-letter special service agencies, is now being run by the same and is collating the details of all buyers and sellers.

Perhaps a certain market was originally made by the FBI (replace with any other country’s service – maybe the NCA of the UK? and has always been run and operated by them. Shivers….

It’s enough to turn you drug-free!

But before we put our tin-foil hats on, the likelihood of this is very remote. Not least because of the deaths which may have occurred and which would hence be directly attributed to such sales and then, in this litigation-crazy world, the high possibility of some grieving family suing the agency involved to within an inch of their budget.

The exclusion of weapons and pornography on many sites has, no doubt, been introduced by many a site owner in order to make them less of a target to the authorities. This is undoubtedly a wasted tactic due to the meaningless war on drugs which seems to sate the appitite of the average Neo-conservative.

The future? This is unclear. Some might recall the internet media at the time of the first Silk Road’s demise predicting the end of dark markets as we know it; that the centralized nature of these markets is a fail from the start due to the inherent risks to both site owner (maintaining a traceable physical server has major risks) and to customers of such markets having to give personal delivery information to an unknown entity. The prediction was that a BBS-style decentralized site would be the natural successor to the market system: a peer to peer automated board setup and paid for by ads, though the details for ownership and maintaining such a board was never detailed. The possibilities of an alt.drugs (those of a certain age may remember) board style taking over from the usual market fare is still a possibility. One which probably needs a tipping-point fueled by fed-up users of the status-quo buyer/seller format we currently have.

Thus far no replacement for the market style has been forthcoming though it seems that its time is very much long due and eagerly awaited by buyers and sellers alike. There is no doubt, however, that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is well and truly the order of the day in the current .onion market world.

Updated: 2015-11-13