In every market, there are always businesses that outperform the rest.
Despite the fact that a majority of factors are held constant, it is the norm that there are those who will reap more profits than others.
For hidden markets, there is a wide range of goods and services that can be obtained. But we take a look at cybercrime and drugs which are considered to be among the most profiteering businesses on the dark web today.
They’re generating massive profits for the sellers and enormous amounts for the site admins after a product is sold and funds are withdrawn from a hidden marketplace.
Apart from that, the hidden sites also earn by charging vendor fees which may be refundable to persons who wish to become sellers in the marketplaces.
A point to note is that the fee, in most cases, is only refundable if the account of the vendor is in good standing by the time of closure.
Rising Profits for Cybercriminals on Dark Web
There are various ways in which cybercrime occurs, and the dark web offers the perfect hub for criminals to obtain the relevant data at a cost. Depending on the nature of the fraud, the type of information required and the technique used will differ.
The victim of the cybercrime can be an individual, an organization, a business or a government institution—it depends on who the attacker intends to target. As much as scammers and fraudsters do have a preference, no one is safe as anyone can be a target provided they have what is of benefit to the perpetrator.
Vendors that are operating on the dark web sell these services under the digital goods category because the customer can receive the information as a document.
Because of this reason, someone can perpetrate this type of crime anywhere as long as they are connected to the internet and they have the technical software and necessary knowledge to undertake the operation.
Among the major products available under this category are credit and debit cards, bank logins, tutorials in the form of eBooks, data dumps, a wide range of hacking services and, last but not least, individuals’ personal information which can be used to steal their identity. For one to engage in one of these activities and record success, they need skill accompanied with experience.
The online sale of credit cards and debit cards is a type of cybercrime known as carding, which can be considered to be among the biggest types of fraud on the dark web.
It is an art meant for those who have the desire to get rich quick by draining funds from another person’s account without their knowledge.
Despite the fact that financial institutions take the security of their customers seriously, cybercriminals are still able to infiltrate their systems and make away with substantial amounts of money on an annual basis.
Also, there is a recent uptick in data theft operations targeting major banking institutions, thus proving that the ever-growing threat is real.
In one of the most notable instances, Russian and Indian banks lost millions to hackers.
Then there is the other issue of ransomware, which was very prominent in the year 2017.
The spread of ransomware spanned throughout the entire globe, crippling operations in hospitals, airports, nuclear facilities, shopping centers, shipping companies and government agencies, demanding a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin.
After the first ransomware attack, Wannacry, some governments started feeling the effects very quickly. What followed was a series of blames games where security agencies in the United States were accused of losing control over their creation when a hacking group called Shadow Brokers leaked an exploit developed by the National Security Agency.
Currently, the dark web has offered avenues for people to buy ransomware. This was the case with Gibon, which was available in a Russian dark web forum late last year, as well as GandCrab ransomware, which was spotted on the dark web a few weeks ago.
All of the sales of the digital goods lead to loss of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis. And even though some measures are in place to prevent these financial catastrophes, there still those who successfully engage in cyber fraud and get away since they leave no traces.
Apart from the sellers, the buyers of digital products also tend to gain—provided they know what they are doing. For example, an ordinary person who does not have substantial coding and hacking skills can turn out to be successful, provided they follow a well laid out guide of how to cash out from a given platform.
Platforms that tend to be common targets are money transfer platforms such as PayPal, bank accounts, betting companies, e-commerce sites and, last but not, least cryptocurrency exchanges.
All these combined have liquidity worth billions of dollars and outlaws manage to make away with millions. This indeed shows that companies which have adopted IT strategies need to also enhance their security infrastructure.
An Overview of the Dark Web Drug Trade
The prices of the drugs offered on hidden market sites are dependent on the quantity, dose/potency and the type of drug.
The thing to note is that some of the drugs available in hidden markets may be legal in some countries but illegal in others. So, it’s a requirement that one reads the product listings before they purchase the desired product.
Then also, if one finds it difficult to understand the description in the listings, then it is advisable to send the vendor a message and ask for clarifications to avoid inconveniences that may arise in future.
The primary reason is that due to the experience amassed by the vendor, they choose not to engage in certain activities such as ship goods to specific regions because law enforcement agencies are always keeping watch.
The reasons may vary from time to time.
Then, the other major challenge faced by both buyers and sellers is shipping the product. Every time an item is shipped across continents, it will almost certainly be wildly expensive to ship it. Also, the probability of law enforcement agencies seizing goods increases for intercontinental shipping.
When products are taken by customs, buyers often start complaining that a particular vendor is a fraudster just because the goods they ordered have not been received. In their defense, sellers will keep away from any blame by saying that they mentioned the do’s and don’ts in the product listing.
But what is for sure is that drug trafficking has become rampant on the dark web and people are willing to take risks and ship products across countries and even continents with the hope they will receive them.
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