Two days ago a message has begun spreading through darknet-related forums stating that the largest darkweb market, Agora Marketplace is going to be unavailable for a limited period of time, due to discovered security holes. The message seen on Agora’s subreddit https://pay.reddit.com/r/AgMarketplace/comments/3idznd/agora_to_pause_operations/ is a direct copy of a Blue Banner post from DarkNetMarkets subreddit.
As their message states, the amount of effort and resources needed for a security exploit were discovered to be substantially lower that what was previously thought and Agora staff fears that there might be ‘interested parties’ who possess such resources and would use them to bring Agora Marketplace down.
The main attack point in this instance would be to deanonymize server locations, thus making them open to a physical attack or law enforcement seizure.
Another paragraph of the message explains that “suspicious” activity was discovered around Agora’s servers and this is the cause for such a short-notice shut-down.
The staff of Agora Marketplace continues to explain that they are working over-time to bring their service back up as soon as possible, but advise their users to refrain from depositing any bitcoin to their market in the meantime.
The users are also advised to withdraw their funds as soon as possible as Agora cannot guarantee their safety during downtime.
As expected this message has caused a huge uproar on forums and users have immediately been divided into two distinct groups, those who are claiming that Agora Marketplace is pulling an “exit scam” and those defending the Agora staff, claiming that what they did was the right thing.
From the current situation it seems that Agora Marketplace is indeed going to return after some time and that the funds are being withdrawn, albeit slowly.
If one digs through forums a little they will find a huge amount of posts claiming that their bitcoins are stuck in “processing” and that they fear that they will never see their funds again.
Another small part of users are reporting that they have received their funds back after waiting as much as 48 hours, which gives hope to some that they will indeed get their money back.
If we look at it from a completely objective point of view, the delay on withdraws can easily be explained without the need for any panic.
Since Agora Marketplace is currently the largest marketplace on the dark web, it is obvious that its users are going to count in tens maybe even hundreds of thousands.
Now, imagine that after reading the shutdown warning all of those users immediately went to their Agora accounts and asked the site for a bitcoin withdrawal.
No matter how big and sophisticated the servers, there was bound to be some lag from the server side and with so much people the queue time has become quite long.
And with the reports of bitcoin arriving safely to their owner’s wallets growing as the time passes, it is almost 100% safe to say that everything that Agora Marketplace is doing is legitimate and that all the bitcoins will be returned to their rightful owners.
Compared to other marketplaces which pulled the plug on the operation as soon as things got rough and escaped with their user’s funds, it is quite refreshing to see a marketplace actually doing the right thing and trying to fix its issues and earn its user’s trust.
One last word of advice from owners of Agora Marketplace is that the users refrain from tumbling their bitcoins when withdrawing at this time as it may cause further issues.
As it currently stands, more and more people are receiving their bitcoins safely as seen from reports on various forums, which should be the reason enough to stop spreading panic and believe that Agora staff will do the right thing as they did so far.
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