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The Darknet Just Had One of Its Wildest Months Yet

Darknet marketplaces exist on a constant knife edge, never more than an exit scam, LE bust, or DDoS away from going down. Even by their usual frenetic standards, though, November was quite a month for DNMs, with high drama and intrigue aplenty. Despite a number of marketplaces disappearing off the map, a new study shows the ecosystem to be stronger than ever.

Also read: John McAfee Weighs in on Maximalism, Epstein’s Death, and ‘the Greatest Gift Since Fire’

The Darknet Will Not Be Downed

“The drug market has become increasingly digitally enabled. Drugs purchased online can be transported across Europe and delivered to consumers by post and parcel services.” So reads the forward to the latest EU Drug Markets Report released by Europol last week. The 260-page report makes for heavy bedtime reading, but darknet vendors eager to optimize their opsec will find useful clues in there on how to frustrate law enforcement. As the report acknowledges:

There are notable challenges in identifying postal items containing drugs. For example, the total volume handled every day by a major postal centre such as the Mail Centre Vienna amounts to 4 million items. Furthermore, there is currently no mechanism in place for the reporting of suspicious parcels akin, for example, to the existing one for reporting suspicious financial transactions. Although systems are in place for service providers to remove and destroy suspicious parcels, they do not have a legal obligation to inform police authorities.

As an indication of the quantity of drugs moving through the mail each day, the report notes that “Since August 2016, about 8,500 postal items containing illicit drugs have been identified at international airports across Germany, amounting to a total of 404 kg of illicit drugs (287 kg amphetamine and 111 kg MDMA, as well as cocaine and cannabis) and 307 250 MDMA/ecstasy tablets.”

The Darknet Just Had One of Its Wildest Months Yet

While Europol was applying the finishing touches to its painstakingly researched report, the darknet was undergoing one of its most turbulent months to date. The following rundown records November’s key DNM talking points.

Double-Crossing and DDoSing on the Darknet

Nov 4: Silk Road admin and drug dealer turned informant Curtis Green receives his first restitution check from jailed fed turned criminal Carl Mark Force.

Nov 14: Cryptonia, one of the most popular DNMs goes down. At the time of writing, three weeks on, it is still offline, despite an admin promising that it will return and that users will receive the funds they are due. It’s believed to be gone for good.

Nov 15: Dread, the darknet’s main forum for all things DNM-related, goes offline and stays down for the next 10 days.

Nov 22: The Independent discovers that DNM vendors are offering Black Friday deals, seemingly unaware that this has been a thing since the Silk Road days.

Nov 22: Data scientist Andrea Baronchelli shares “Collective Dynamics of Dark Web Marketplaces.” The report analyzes “24 episodes of unexpected market closure through a novel datasets of 133 million Bitcoin transactions involving 31 dark markets and their users, totalling 4 billion USD.” It found that “coordinated user migration from the closed market to coexisting markets guarantees overall systemic resilience beyond the intrinsic fragility of individual markets. The migration is swift, efficient and common to all market closures.” The hydra theory is true it would seem: lop off one darknet market and two will spring up to replace it.

Nov 23: Nightmare market is hacked, and its homepage defaced to display the dox of a Belarusian said to be a former admin of the site. The site exit scammed four months earlier, with the hack the final act of the crippled DNM’s long goodbye.

Nov 25: An admin for Grey Market, one of the smaller DNMs, claims that their computers were seized by LE and that anyone who used the market in the past week is compromised. Whatever the case may be, Grey Market is still online at press time.

Nov 25: Dread returns to the darknet, with admin Hugbunter explaining in a PGP signed message the technical reasons for its lengthy downtime. He also notes that someone claiming to be the FBI asked them to “place a ban on opiate related posts on the site, following a case of a 15 year old who overdosed on fake oxys laced with fent.” A couple of days later, the feds sign their own PGP message claiming that it wasn’t them that asked for fentanyl discussions to be purged. Curiouser and curiouser.

Nov 26: Darknet monitoring site Dark.fail reveals that 8chan successor 8kun’s Tor hidden service has remained online despite its clearnet site being DDoSed. Darknet markets haven’t been so fortunate, with Point/Tochka in particular spending days at a time offline. At the time of publication, the popular DNM and its Github repository have been down for a week. The site has been frequently offline all year, with DDoS attacks to blame. When Dread returned to life two days earlier, citing DDoS attacks, its admin wrote “If any of the attacks were to be LE, I’d put a bet on this one.” Could feds be behind Point’s hiatus as well?

3 Down, 30 to Go

In total, three darknet markets disappeared in November: Berlusconi, Samsara, and Cryptonia. Despite this coup for law enforcement, these DNMs were merely the tip of the iceberg: with another 30-odd sites listed on dark.fail, there’s still plenty of places for cryptocurrency users to acquire their wares. At present, Empire Market appears to be soaking up most of the business, just as it has been all year.

The Darknet Just Had One of Its Wildest Months Yet

Darknet markets are interlinked with bitcoin because BTC remains the most popular means of paying for goods and services on them. There’s another reason, though, why the two have synergies: the distributed design of DNMs gives them a utility akin to that of Bitcoin nodes. If one market disappears, or is found to be acting dishonestly, users will bypass it and route their business through the honest majority. In this manner, DNMs have proven incredibly resilient. Individually, each one is centralized, but collectively they form a decentralized market whose uptime since 2011 has rivaled Bitcoin itself.

Do you think the latest darknet market closures will affect supply, or will new DNMs appear to replace them? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Europol.


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Kai Sedgwick

Kai’s been manipulating words for a living since 2009 and bought his first bitcoin at $12. It’s long gone. He’s previously written whitepapers for blockchain startups and is especially interested in P2P exchanges and DNMs.

Kai Sedgwick , 2019-12-03 17:45:49 ,

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NewsBlock © 2019 - 2020 All rights reserved.

NewsBlock © 2019 - 2020. All rights reserved.


While Bitcoin’s price seemingly moves without rhyme or reason — collapsing by dozens of percent and embarking on face-melting rallies on a whim — the cryptocurrency market is filled to the brim with fractals.

Related Reading: Analyst: Bitcoin Price Likely to Fall to Low-$8,000s as Chart Remains Weak

A brief aside: A fractal, in the context of technical analysis and financial markets anyway, is when an asset’s price action is seen during a different time. This form of analysis isn’t that popular, but it has proven to be somewhat valuable in analyzing Bitcoin.

One recent fractal popularized by a well-known cryptocurrency trader is implying that BTC is going to return to the low-$7,000s in the coming days.

Bitcoin Fractal Implies Retracement to Low-$7,000s

A well-known crypto trader going by “Tyler Durden” on Twitter recently posted the chart below, which shows that a Bitcoin price fractal may be playing out. The fractal has four phases: horizontal consolidation marked by one fakeout, a surge above the consolidation phase, a distribution, then a strong drop to fresh lows.

If the fractal plays out in full, BTC could reach the low-$7,000s again, potentially as low as $7,100. This would represent a 20-odd percent collapse from the current price point of $8,800.

It isn’t only a fractal that is hinting Bitcoin has the potential to visit its lows. As we reported on Saturday, Bloomberg believes that if the GTI Vera Convergence Divergence Indicator flips red, a downtrend could push the cryptocurrency back to $7,300.

Related Reading: Stephen Colbert Pokes Fun at Bitcoin in Monologue: Mainstream Gone Wrong?

Can Bulls Step In?

But again, many believe it is irrational to have such bearish interpretations of the cryptocurrency’s chart at the moment. As reported by NewsBTC earlier, Popular crypto trader Mayne recently noted that the “people waiting for $6,000” are irrational. He quipped that Bitcoin retracing and consolidating after its fourth-biggest bull move in history ($7,300 to $10,500, a 42% gain) is perfectly par for the course, but noted that it’s totally possible we can go lower from $8,800.

The medium-term technicals support this.

Trader and CoinTelegraph contributor FilbFilb found that by the end of November or start of December, the 50-week and 100-week moving averages will see a “golden cross,” which he claims is far more significant” for the Bitcoin market that other technical crosses.

Also, a Bitcoin price model created using Facebook Prophet machine learning found that the leading cryptocurrency is likely to end the year at just over $12,000. What’s notable about this model is that it called the price drop to $8,000 months in advance, and forecasted a ~$7,500 price bottom for BTC.

To put a cherry on the cryptocurrency cake, Crypto Thies observed that when Bitcoin bottomed at $7,300, it bounced decisively off the 0.618 Fibonacci Retracement of the move from $3,000 to $14,000, which correlates with the two-week volume-weighted moving average. He added that summer 2019’s consolidation was marked by Bitcoin flipping major resistances into support levels, implying that a bullish reversal and subsequent continuation is likely possible in the coming weeks.

Featured Image from Shutterstock


Nick Chong , 2019-11-10 12:00:38

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