The dark web just got a little less dark: The biggest dark web marketplace in the world has been taken offline.
As reported by Bleeping Computer, due to a successful operation to seize its servers, German police were able to take down Hydra Market, a leading darknet platform that became popular by selling drugs, in addition to offering lucrative money-laundering services.
For reference, the dark web can be utilized via the use of specific browsers and VPNs to access and purchase illegal services in the form of cybercrimes, such as fraud, identity theft, and malware programs.
When the services being sought involve drugs and money laundering in particular, though, the potential payout can lead to a financial windfall that generates billions of dollars. Case in point: Germany’s cybercrime and criminal police divisions stated that Hydra Market obtained around $1.35 billion in 2020 for its services.
The police also confirmed it discovered 543 bitcoins in Hydra’s possession. At current market rates, that’s around $25 million. Still, a small drop in the bucket compared to the $1 billion-plus it managed to make within a year.
Barring any other unknown marketplaces that have made even more, based on the amount of money it received, Hydra was the largest darknet market in the world when it was operating.
Furthermore, as highlighted by Engadget, if reports are to be believed, Hydra was responsible for about 80 percent of all cryptocurrency transactions performed on the dark web. Ultimately, the darknet marketplace had reportedly secured around $5.2 billion in crypto alone since 2015.
Although Hydra primarily offered drugs and money laundering services, it also sold stolen databases and forged documents. Furthermore, individuals could acquire access to its hacking for hire services as well.
The Hydra dark web marketplace was home to 19,000 registered seller accounts. In total, the customer base reached at least 17 million people, according to Bleeping Computer.
A spokesperson for the German authorities in charge of the operation confirmed to Bleeping Computer that no arrests have been made yet. As for an in-depth look at the systems and servers that were seized, such information cannot be shared at the moment due to ongoing investigations.
Crypto-related cybercrimes on the rise
Before Hydra, the biggest player in the dark web marketplace space was the infamous Silk Road, which was taken offline in 2013.
If it existed today and was able to evade authorities since its inception in 2011, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume the service would be generating countless billions in terms of turnover, especially because its bottom line would have been boosted by the emergence of crypto-related cyber crimes.
In 2021 alone, cryptocurrency crimes resulted in $1.6 billion being stolen from individuals.
Elsewhere, U.S. authorities made their own crypto-related seizure recently, which is said to be “one of the largest ever brought by the US involving cryptocurrencies.” According to Bitcoinist, the feds were able to obtain around $34 million in cryptocurrency from a Florida resident. He allegedly utilized the dark web to “sell Netflix, HBO, and Uber account information, among other popular services.”