In 2020, cryptocurrency-based crime dropped dramatically. This is the conclusion that the blockchain investigation firm Chainalysis came to after processing the statistics of the previous year. Yet it would be premature to relax: this fact does not mean that the criminals abandoned the crypto industry for good. Most likely, they will keep using it for their nefarious purposes, taking advantage of the anonymity principle.
The Essence of the Insights
According to the data gathered by the Chainalysis team, in 2019, illegal activities accounted for 2.1% of all cryptocurrency transactions. That equaled approximately $21.4 billion. But the next year, this indicator plummeted to 0.34%, which equals around $10.0 billion in transactions.
Should we be happy because crypto owners became more law-obedient? Not quite. The Chainalysis experts state that fewer crimes are being committed in the industry indeed. Yet the number of legit transactions has also increased significantly. The overall economic activity in the crypto sphere almost tripled between 2019 and 2020. More and more people realize that cryptocurrencies are a convenient and reliable method of payment. They begin using them for their daily needs, they purchase tokens for investment purposes and for sending funds to recipients abroad, avoiding large commissions. So even if the number of crypto-related crimes had remained at the same level, their share of the total number of transactions would have declined anyway.
In 2020, no large-scale crypto scams took place. In 2019, by contrast, gullible victims lost over $2 billion on the notorious PlusToken Ponzi scheme. However, we should not come to the conclusion that such scams will not occur in the future. It might happen so that in a couple of years someone will come up with another scheme and will be able to fool thousands of people. So far, scams account for 54% of crypto-related crimes.
The runner-up in the rating of the most massive offenses in the crypto sphere are dark markets. Their share grew from $1.3 billion worth of activity in 2019 to $1.7 billion in 2020.
And what about ransomware? This is where many potential problems can come from. Today, cryptocurrency-based crimes that involve ransomware account only for 7% of all funds received by criminal addresses. This equals approximately $350 million worth of cryptocurrency. Yet if compared to 2019, the number of such offenses skyrocketed by 311%. The Chainalysis team warns that the real numbers might be even higher because not all victims report to the police.
It is hard to predict whether the frequency of ransomware attacks will keep growing or it is just a short-term trend. Because of the pandemic, people had to work from home. The level of protection of their home computers was considerably lower than in their offices. But once they come back to their usual workplace, the IT departments of their organizations will take proper care of their cybersecurity.
The above-said facts and statistics do not mean that cryptocurrency has become an entirely safe sphere. But it is definitely becoming safer. If people act reasonably and take precautions, they will be able to noticeably reduce their risks.
What Is Chainalysis and What Do They Specialize in
Chainalysis is a blockchain analysis business that provides information, software and services to its clients. Its customers are governmental bodies, exchanges, financial institutions, insurance and cybersecurity organizations from more than 50 countries. Chainalysis offers them investigation, compliance and risk management instruments to solve cybercriminal cases and increase consumer access to the safe usage of cryptocurrencies. The headquarters of the organization is based in New York. In 2020, the Forbes magazine included Chainalysis into the list of top 50 fintech companies.
A dangerous bug was detected in the browser that used to have a reputation of privacy-focused software. For now, you should stop using old version of Brave for onion services.
This is unpleasant news for people who normally use Brave to access onion services. A dangerous bug was detected in this browser that sends queries for onion addresses to public DNS resolvers.
Recently, the developers added to Brave the Private Window with Tor feature. It allows users to conveniently open onion services in a Tor-enabled tab. First, this feature seemed to be very opportune. But now, it turns out that the DNS data is leaking through it.
What Is the Mechanism of the Leak?
The leaks are caused by the browser’s in-built capabilities to block advertising. Their functionality is more or less the same as that of PiHole or ad blockers built by third parties. So why should they leak the DNS data? The experts of the TheHackerNews.com site came up with a comprehensive explanation of the problem.
The ad-blocking feature of the Brave browser is known as CNAME. It blocks third-party tracking scripts that employ CNAME DNS data to impersonate the first-party script when it is not and prevent detection by content blockers. According to TheHackerNews.com, an online resource can conceal third-party scripts with the help of the subdomains of the main domain. Then, an automatic redirection to a tracking domain will take place.
Anyone who checked DNS query logs or used a local DNS sinkhole could notice this feature right away. Users who run their server and have the unpatched version of Brave could easily test the bug.
To make sure that the bug really exists, follow these simple steps:
If your logs were temporarily disabled, enable them.
Check your DNS query logs.
Right-click a link in the Brave browser and choose to Open Link in Private Window with Tor.
After that, the query for an onion service will be picked up by the DNS server.
Did the Developer Take Any Measures?
The first notification about this issue appeared on January 13, 2020, on HackerOne. Hackers and security experts launched this platform to share information about bugs with the ultimate goal of making the Internet a safer place. People who report about bugs there can expect to get a bounty.
A nightly release of the Brave browser allegedly featured a patch to fix the bug. After the developers got to know about this problem, they promised to update their product. The Brave 1.21.x version was supposed to include a patch for the DNS leak. But in fact, users have received only an update to the public version of the browser so far.
So How Should I Access Onion Services Now?
Until the issue is entirely fixed, please do not try to access onion services through Brave. You will not be able to remain anonymous. Instead, you might want to use Tor, which is the default browser for sites of such type. Tor was built on the basis of the Firefox browser — while Brave is based on Chromium.
UPDATE: Since Apr 13 2021, Spurdo Market accepts Monero.
What Is Spurdomarket?
Some experienced dark net users might remember the Finnish marketplace called Sipulimarket. After it was closed in December 2020, the Spurdo market emerged to take its place and serve as an alternative to the Silkkitie. As soon as Silkkitie was gone, the huge amount of potential customers striving to acquire illicit products was left unattended, and it was only a matter of time until someone seized this opportunity. Although Spurdomarket provides service primarily to the Scandinavian market and cannot be listed among the most significant industry players, it definitely has some tricks up its sleeves and deserves a proper and fair review.
Mikä on Spurdomarket?
Jotkut kokeneet tummat net-käyttäjät saattavat muistaa Suomen Marketplace nimeltä Sipulimarket. Kun se suljettiin joulukuussa 2020, Spurdo-markkinat syntyivät paikkansa ja toimiva vaihtoehtona Silkkitielle. Heti kun Silkkitie oli poissa, valtava määrä potentiaalisia asiakkaita, jotka pyrkivät hankkimaan laittomat tuotteet, jätettiin vartioimatta, ja se oli vain ajan kysymys, kunnes joku tarttui tähän tilaisuuteen. Vaikka Spurdomarket tarjoaa palvelua ensisijaisesti Skandinavian markkinoille, eikä sitä voida luetella merkittävimpien teollisuuden pelaajien kesken, sillä se on varmasti temppuja hihoissaan ja ansaitsee asianmukaisen ja oikeudenmukaisen tarkastelun.
How does Spurdomarket Work?
Spurdomarket’s most definitive feature makes it unique in both positive and negative ways. In a large part the site is built for the local community. Therefore, its layout is in the Finnish language. The platform offers no English version (or version for any other language for that matter), although some vendors provide descriptions and major details in English.
On the one hand, it generates plenty of inconveniences to both sellers and buyers. You have to know Finnish or spend a lot of time translating all the necessary information. But on the other hand, it protects the community from scammers and other dishonest individuals because only distributors and customers with serious intentions would be eager to exert that much effort.
Another essential measure that Spurdomarket execute to guard the privacy of its users is applying the Escrow system. This means that the marketplace stores your funds and transfers it to a vendor only when a deal is finalized. This mechanism ensures that no fraud is committed to buyers or sellers alike. In addition, this system implies complete anonymity because there is no direct communication between the parties involved. All the disputes are solved through Spurdomarket in accordance with its established policy which prevails over vendors’ rules for these matters in case of any contradictions.
The order and delivery processes are adequately straightforward with no unnecessary complications:
The buyer purchase an item
The seller ships it within 72 hours (if the order is not marked as shipped within this period of time the system cancels it automatically and the buyer gets a refund)
When the order is received by the customer, the deal can be finalized
In case there is a delay or any other unforeseen circumstances, the buyer can extend the order
If there are any complaints, the client can initiate a dispute, but it has to be done manually within 14 days after placing the order, otherwise the purchase will be finalized automatically.
Miten Spurdomarket toimii?
Spurdomarkin lopullinen ominaisuus tekee siitä ainutlaatuisen sekä positiivisissa että negatiivisissa tavoissa. Suuressa osassa sivusto on rakennettu paikallisyhteisölle. Siksi sen ulkoasu on suomen kielellä. Foorumi tarjoaa englanninkielistä versiota (tai versiota mihinkään muuhun kieleen), vaikka jotkin toimittajat tarjoavat kuvauksia ja merkittäviä yksityiskohtia englanniksi.
Toisaalta se tuottaa runsaasti haittoja sekä myyjille että ostajille. Sinun täytyy tuntea suomalaisia tai viettää paljon aikaa kääntää kaikki tarvittavat tiedot. Toisaalta se suojaa yhteisöä huijareilta ja muilta epärehellisiltä yksilöiltä, koska vain jakelijat ja asiakkaat, joilla on vakavia aikomuksia, olisi innokas käyttämään paljon vaivaa.
Toinen tärkeä toimenpide, joka Spurdomarket toteuttaa suojella käyttäjien yksityisyyttä, soveltaa escrow-järjestelmää. Tämä tarkoittaa, että markkinapaikka tallentaa varojasi ja siirtää sen myyjälle vain silloin, kun sopimus on viimeistelty. Tämä mekanismi varmistaa, että petoksia ei ole sitoutunut ostajille tai myyjille. Lisäksi tämä järjestelmä merkitsee täydellistä nimettömyyttä, koska asianosaisten välillä ei ole suoraa viestintää. Kaikki riidat ratkaistaan Spurdomarkin kautta vakiintuneen politiikan mukaisesti, joka vallitsee toimittajien sääntöjä näistä asioista, jos ristiriitaisuuksia.
Tilaus- ja toimitusprosessit ovat riittävän suoraviivaisia ilman tarpeettomia komplikaatioita:
Ostaja ostaa kohteen Myyjä toimittaa sen 72 tunnin kuluessa (jos tilaus ei ole merkitty lähetettynä tämän ajan kuluessa, järjestelmä peruuttaa sen automaattisesti ja ostaja saa hyvityksen) Kun asiakas vastaanottaa tilauksen, sopimus voidaan viimeistellä Jos viivästyminen tai muut ennakoimattomat olosuhteet ovat, ostaja voi laajentaa tilausta Jos valituksia on, asiakas voi aloittaa riidan, mutta se on tehtävä manuaalisesti 14 päivän kuluessa tilauksen tekemisestä, muuten ostos viimeistellään automaattisesti.
What does Spurdo market offer?
The website’s design is simple and intuitive, all the major categories are presented in the form of a list, you can open the one that you need to study the offered items. As well as in any other dark web marketplace, the majority of Spurdomarket’s product range is displayed by drugs. However, some digital items and bank details are available for purchasing. On Spurdomarket you can find the following categories:
Doping (performance drugs)
Other (digital stuff, debit/credit card information, etc.).
Of course, as any other enterprise that understands that key to success is earning clients’ loyalty, so they keep coming back, Spurdomarket values its reputation and wants to be perceived as a trustworthy platform. Thus, it imposes certain restrictions on the types of offers that are allowed to be published. The list of products and services that are prohibited to sell on the website includes:
Unlike many other major dark net marketplaces, selling Fentanyl or similar substances is not a taboo on the Spurdomarket which might rise some concerns.
Companies operating in the deep web understand the importance of privacy. Hence, in case you disclose any personal information about other people (commit a doxing), you will get banned from the community.
One of the greatest advantages of using Spurdomarket is its prices. On this site you can find truly the cheapest products and services because many of their offers are limited for the Finnish market. From this perspective your translation work can actually pay off.
How to Keep It Safe
Obviously, being a dark net marketplace means doing your best to guarantee your clients’ privacy and security. With that in mind Spurdomarket uses several features to ensure that all the deals remain safe and completely anonymous. For instance, it can only be accessed via Tor browser.
Despite the applied security measures it would be wise to take additional precautions because everyone knows that it is better to be safe than sorry. Here are some of the steps that you might want to take before accessing the marketplace:
Use dedicated system or virtual machine (VM) for the dark web business
Install secure operating systems, such as Tails (https://tails.boum.org/) or Whonix (https://www.whonix.org/)
Store your Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) keys on your dedicated system/VM only
Do not mix your deep web activities with casual browsing
Use VPN to protect your traffic, especially if you are connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
On the whole, Spurdomarket cannot outbid the major industry players, but its local nature provides it with some particular advantages that make it really stand out. It doesn’t have an impressive product range, still its low prices and lucrative offers look very attractive. In terms of safety and privacy it seems reliable. Yet, there is no information on whether it has enforced PGP, or 2FA (2 Factors Authentication). It doesn’t support Multisig or FE (Finalize Early) option, but Escrow system is an established standard in this industry. Inability to understand the Finnish language might cause some difficulties, but it also means that shady users would refrain from accessing it. Overall, Spudomarket has many perspectives and deserves recognition.
Who is Spurdo?
Originally, Spurdo Spärde is a poorly drawn character based on the sprite image of Pedobear. It was originally conceived in the Finnish imageboard Kuvalauta to mock the newcomers who often flooded the site with hackneyed reposts, one of the main materials being images of Pedobear. The character is coarsely drawn on purpose and accompanied by captions that are misspelled and stylized in all cap.
Let’s learn cool Finnish words!
sipulitori – onion (so, sipulitori market means onion market)
Monopoly Market is an online drug marketplace, hosted as an onion service. It cannot boast of a long history yet because it was established in 2019. But it has a strong reputation and it keeps evolving at a good pace. From this review, you will get to know how this project functions, how it differentiates itself from the numerous competitors, what you can purchase here and other informative details.
What Is Monopoly Darknet Market
Onion Monopoly is a drug-focused userless and walletless marketplace. It strives to create a safe environment for online trade, reduce customer risks and optimize the process of placing orders. In 2021, it is considered a trusted network that efficiently filters scammers and receives largely positive reviews from its clients.
Features Of Onion Monopoly
This platform features a segregated design. This means that the vendor panel is separated from the marketplace. If the main URL of the project is attacked, vendors will still be able to process orders as usual. If a vendor URL leaks, the administration of the marketplace will quickly understand whom it belongs to and will be able to thwart the attack.
The Monopoly market darknet aims to reduce the number of clicks that the customer should make to place an order. On a conventional marketplace, the client might need to log in and out several times while waiting for the confirmation of their order. But here, it is enough to insert your order code to keep things under control.
All trades are locked in. If a third party gets hold of the user’s order code or the user loses this code, they can reset it with their PGP key that they get at the checkout stage. The same principle applies to refunds. Vendors may not follow this rule — but in this case, they should be ready to compensate potential losses to their buyers.
Thanks to such an approach, no customer can be linked to multiple orders. If law enforcement agencies obtain the information about the buyers, they will fail to see how much each of them purchased. They will not be able to suspect anyone of buying drugs for resale. They will not investigate or raid anyone.
At the moment of this review being written, the assortment of the platform featured the following list of substances.
Benzos — 68
Cannabis — 270
Dissociatives — 20
Ecstasy — 26
Opioids — 32
Prescription — 35
Psychedelics — 57
Steroids — 81
Stimulants — 46
The most popular subcategories in each of these categories were rather predictable. For instance, 24 offers in the Ecstasy category belonged to either Pills or MDMA subcategories. Among 20 Dissociatives offers, Ketamine accounted for 15.
The clients of this marketplace do not transfer their funds to the Dark Monopoly administration. The team of the platform is not planning to add a wallet to their site in the foreseeable future. This increases the credibility of the project. Users can be sure that the team of the market will not escape with their funds.
However, sending money to an unknown vendor might be risky too. This is why the marketplace meticulously checks the reputation of each vendor. When the customer enters the site, they can see the vendor’s status from the onset (New or Established). The names of the best vendors are displayed on the leaderboard.
1% of the vendors receive top status. So far, there is no uniform verification for top vendors. They should get in touch with the team of the marketplace to discuss their new status individually. The scope of privileges that they receive might differ depending on their listings, sales volume, number and success rate of disputes as well as other indicators that reflect their professionalism and the level of customer satisfaction.
The administration does not claim that 100% of the deals on their platform are safe. But they do their best to eliminate fraud. Customers, in their turn, should remain vigilant and use all the tools that the system offers them to maximize the safety of the deals.
Security & Anonymity
Once the customer sends funds to a given address, they get the Transaction ID and the Secret View Key. They should use this data to verify the transaction. By default, the payment needs to have 10 confirmations.
There is no automatic queue or cron job on the Onion Monopoly. A confirmed transaction triggers the script. The vendor will see the order only when the payment gets the Funded status. If the order remains unfunded for 12 hours, it will expire. Messaging is disabled to reduce spam.
How To Order
The process of placing the order is genuinely intuitive. Even if you are a complete newbie, it will take you just a few minutes to figure out how the system functions.
Find The Item You Need
The layout of the site is rather traditional. The list of the products is located on its left side. You can either click on the categories or type the name of the product in the search field above. It might happen so that the vendor has already reached the maximum limit of orders. In such a situation, you can either find an alternative vendor or wait until the one that you chose initially finalizes their current orders.
Fill Out The Form
You will need to indicate the following information.
Shipping (First class, priority or multiple orders to the same address)
Enable PGP 2FA (optionally)
Your PGP public key
Payment method (one of the two cryptocurrencies)
Payment type (direct deal or escrow)
The vendor might not enable their clients to select between escrow or direct deals. If they offer only one option, all you can do is to accept it.
Receive Order Code
To proceed to the checkout and receive your order code, click on the broken circle below the fill-in form. The empty field for the order code is located in the right top corner of the site. Next to it, there is a button with a truck icon that confirms the shipping.
Send Your Funds
The market enables its customers to view the prices in 5 national currencies:
To switch among them, use the button in the right top corner of the site. However, the platform does not handle fiat money payments, so be ready to use crypto.
The project accepts two cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR). The administration added Monero for security and privacy reasons. In the Tutorials section of the marketplace, you will find detailed instructions on how to carry out the payments. Those who prefer Bitcoin should use Electrum. Customers who opt for Monero should use either MyMonero or Monero GUI. The administration recommends that its clients avoid Cake Wallet or Coinomi Wallet. Also, buyers should never transfer tokens to the marketplace directly from any crypto exchange.
Methods To Reduce Scamming At Onion Monopoly
The administration of the platform strives to guarantee maximum security to its customers.
Before a listing goes live, the administration approves it manually. Additionally, the Dark Monopoly team encourages users to check the forums and look for information about each vendor before placing an order.
This term denotes the number of disputes that a vendor can have open at any given time. The current limit is 10% — this is the maximum ratio of orders that can be disputed. When they reach the limit, their selling abilities will be automatically restricted. To restore their selling ability, the vendor needs to finalize the disputes.
Each vendor is allowed to process only a limited number of orders simultaneously. When they reach this limit, they will not be able to accept new orders until they finalize the previous ones. The longer the vendor uses this marketplace and the more credible they are, the higher their limits.
Pros & Cons
A decent selection of products
Focus on the reputation of the vendors
Minimum scam risks
The opportunity to choose between BTC and XMR
The project is just 2 years old
Users transfer funds directly to the vendors, which might be risky
XMR.to, the famous crypto exchange service, is closing down. It used to be a trusted brand and it had a large loyal following. It offered its clients a highly intuitive interface where they could rapidly swap XMR for BTC. But now, the time has come to call it a day.
XMR.to had to stop operating because of legislative restrictions. The regulation of the crypto sphere becomes consistently tougher both on the national and international levels. Governments make considerable efforts to combat money laundering and other crimes that might involve cryptocurrency. They do not ban crypto transactions in general but force the owners of the exchanges to change their rules. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford it.
The Essence of the Problem
That was not a momentary decision for the exchange. Earlier, XMR.to had to stop serving customers from the US and some other areas where new draconian laws came into force. The problem with the new legislation is that it mandates invasive policies, which completely contradicts the fundamental principles of Monero. In the US, these policies were imposed in accordance with the Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act. Australia, the UK and other countries have identical laws too.
Those who have used XMR.to before should remember the mission statement of the project. In this document, the founders explicitly emphasized that they had no intentions of identifying the users. Anonymity was one of the primary merits of cryptocurrency at the early stages of its existence. Now, the sphere is rapidly losing this advantage — at least in that part that strives to play fair.
First, XMR.to shut down their onion service. Tor browser enabled its users to obfuscate their real geographical whereabouts, thus bypassing numerous restrictions imposed by national governments. Unfortunately, this measure did not save the exchange because it still failed to comply with numerous laws.
Where Can You Exchange Monero Now
In their official announcement about the closure, the founders of XMR.to stated that they are predictably sad. Yet at the same time, they are happier to shut the service down now and not a few years ago. XMR.to started to operate 6 years ago, which is an “eternity” for the crypto industry. Back then, very few projects could compete with it and offer similar services to customers in case of its premature closure. But now, clients can choose between diverse exchange platforms. It is good both for crypto holders and the market in general, the XMR.to team points out.
These are safe and reliable projects that you might want to try as an alternative:
KSwap. This service is largely similar to XMR.to and seems to be completely trustworthy. It was created by the same person who launched the Kilos search platform.
Xchange.me. It is also a renowned and credible service, familiar to many Darknet users.
Monero remains a convenient, reliable and popular means of payment. It is hard to imagine that people would stop using this coin for their financial transactions. Yet because of the regulations, more and more crypto exchange services have to either shut down or migrate to the onion sphere. There, their founders can remain anonymous so that no governmental authorities can impose sanctions on them. Today, it seems to be the only solution to guarantee confidentiality to the clients of the service.
The Dubious Consequences of the Law Reinforcement
While the authorities seem to act in good faith, they are achieving the reverse of the desired result. While some people will be ready to sacrifice their anonymity, others will join the dark side. From the customer’s viewpoint, that might not be a big deal. Darknet has its own reputation institute, so experienced users know which projects they can trust. For newbies, it might be a bit stressful to try Darknet services for the first time. Yet when they realize that confidentiality is their priority, they will make their first-ever Darknet transaction. Very soon, they will get used to onion services. Maybe, they will go on exploring further Darknet capabilities. So the owners of Darknet sites seem to be the unevident beneficiaries of the new laws. It might seem absurd but this is true.