Darknet markets have experienced a three-week-long shutdown following DDoS attacks, which raised several questions regarding the platforms’ future.
The so-called darknet markets have gained a questionable reputation as being a platform where one can purchase equally goods in services that are either rare to find in regular marketplaces online or are not strictly legal.
In recent weeks, however, several of the community’s most popular darknet markets, including Dream and Aero, have experienced a prolonged downtime due to sustained and aggressive DDoS attacks. While the markets are online again following the shutdown, several of the affected markets are either inactive unusable, due to Bitcoin’s lengthy transaction times.
Most darknet marketplaces only accept cryptocurrency payments, Bitcoin is most widely accepted. However, since the hiatus, most users have been unable to purchase goods or services as their Bitcoin transactions would not clear. Over the weekend, the amount of pending Bitcoin transactions in the marketplaces was around 150 000 and has since reached 160 000.
Most users have complained that their transactions to Dream remained unconfirmed even after a period of up to five hours. Users have complained the marketplace via email, but also on the website’s forum, where dozens of complaints have been issued within the last day alone. As is often the case with darknet market patrons, they usually require the goods or services fast, and don’t mind paying for the faster service. Users have become accustomed to transaction fees which can go up to $10 per transaction. However, despite the higher fees, transaction times have still been remarkably sluggish.
Generally speaking darknet markets hardly ever survive for three months, unlike Dream, who has been active since 2013. However, despite its sizable clientele and sturdy reputation, Dream has not evolved much since its establishment. In addition, the site accepts payments exclusively in Bitcoin, which sometimes limits its accessibility. In addition, this makes the site vulnerable to issues which affect Bitcoin and its users, such as network congestion.
Many darknet markets started implementing cryptocurrency transactions due to the extra added privacy that it offered. However, since this decision, several governmental agencies have become surprisingly capable of tracing cryptocurrency addresses back to their real-world identities. As the Bitcoin network becomes increasingly congested, and scrutinized, however, several other altcoins have stepped up to provide darknet markets with a quicker and more cost-effective solution.
While Dream still does not accept any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin, it’s competitors has implemented more variety in payment methods. Point Marketplace has officially started to accept Ethereum, while Aero now accepts Monero. There is also Libertas, another darknet marketplace , which exclusively accepts Monero. Monero experienced some growth in the last week, however, it is still unknown if some of the growth could be attributed to the marketplaces’ acceptance of cryptocurrency.
According to the marketplace downtime monitor, Deepdotweb, a large number of darknet marketplaces have been under significant and continuous strain caused by DDoS attacks.
DDoS attacks have become somewhat routine on the darknet. Executing such attacks are generally easy for the majority of darknet markets, despite the DDoS protections that any targeted site might have implemented. However, the last few weeks demonstrated a marked increase in the attacks’ severity and longevity.
After the reputable sites, Alphabay and Trade Route collapsed, the darknet community has been rife with fear, which can clearly be seen on the various forums available on the darknet. The latest collapse, and consequently, increased DDoS attacks have caused many regular users to seek out other options. Some users have reported to instead frequent dedicated vendor shops, while others have been utilizing peer-to-peer options which rule of the possibility of central failures.
While latest developments make the future look uncertain for darknet marketplaces such as Dream, it has given other marketplaces, such as Openbazaar the chance to emerge.
According to reports, Openbazaar, who recently launched their 2.0 platform, has a host of features likely to appeal to the darknet community. In addition, Openbazaar implements a variety of security protocols which was previously lacking from traditional darknet markets.
In addition to its upped security protocols, the Openbazaar team has recently announced that they will soon add support for accepting Zcash payments. This latest announcement has addressed several concerns previously voiced by Bitcoin users, in terms of the high fees, lengthy processing times, and decreasing anonymity.