The DarkMarket has been shut down but what will pop up in its place?​
The DarkMarket has been shut down but what will pop up in its place?​

DarkMarket shut down, but what’s next?

DarkMarket – the world’s largest illegal marketplace - advertised itself on the dark net as “the first market run by women”.

Now we’ve discovered this was a lie.

The site, where you could login and buy everything from “uncut coke” to fake identities, is alleged to be run by a man - an Australian man.

News headlines around the world have revealed the suspected operator is a 34-year-old Australian man who was arrested near the Germany-Denmark border.

But we knew 15 hours before the headlines something was wrong.

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One of our analysts, who’ve been studying DarkMarket’s activities for the past 12 months, has been getting an ‘error’ message when trying to get to its site since Monday.

We sent out an alert advising our clients – governments, law enforcement agencies and big organisations – this was happening on Tuesday.

The dark net isn’t a normal website you can access following a Google search.

Gaining access to the darknet requires a Tor Browse.

Tor, an acronym for “The Onion Router”, is software which ensures original users cannot be identified.

The recently shut down DarkMarket.
The recently shut down DarkMarket.

It enables our analysts to manually scour dark net sites anonymously and provide tailored insights on DarkMarket’s activities – as well as those of other dark net operators - to enable the most efficient and effective means to respond.

We’ve been watching as DarkMarket evolved to become the biggest operator in this space.

Basically, anything seedy or illicit contributed to the $220 million cryptocurrency exchanged on this site and they quickly grew in this space.

They were masters of opportunism.

When the previous leader in this space, Empire Market was closed by an “exit scam” in August last year, DarkMarket quickly filled the gap, offering to “waive sign-up fees” to lure new vendors to their site.

This enabled rapid growth – with the site hosting 2,400 vendors (according to prosecutors).

And then on Monday it was shut down.

The concern is now, what next? In the same way DarkMarket did months ago, someone else will capitalise on this void.

Kathy Sundstrom is a former Sunshine Coast Daily journalist who now works at identity and cyber support service IDCARE.


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