Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) announced that the world’s largest illegal dark web marketplace, Hydra Darknet Market, has been taken down. The BKA confiscated 543 bitcoins with a total value of around 23 million euros.
The BKA said it “secured the infrastructure in Germany of the world’s largest illegal Darknet marketplace and thus closed it.” The Darknet market, which has been in operation since 2015 via Tor, was a Russian-language darknet marketplace that opened as a competitor to the now-defunct Russian Anonymous Marketplace (aka RAMP). Around 17 million customers and more than 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the marketplace.
Hydra Market’s sales amounted to at least 1.23 billion euros in 2020 alone. Its use of Bitcoin Bank Mixer, a service for obfuscating digital transactions provided by the platform, made crypto investigations challenging for law enforcement agencies, the BKA said.
The agency attributed the shutdown to an extensive investigation operation conducted by its Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) in partnership with U.S. law enforcement authorities since August 2021.
The shutdown of Hydra is a small win for cybersecurity, but a victory nonetheless, says Chris Olson, Chief Executive Officer at The Media Trust. “Unfortunately, Hydra represents a minuscule drop in the bucket of global cybercrime, which will cost organizations (and therefore consumers) about $10.5 trillion per year by 2025. Cyber actors have perfected the pipeline from Web and mobile-based phishing attacks to darknet markets, and new ones are opening all the time. In truth — if past precedent is anything to go by — Hydra operators will likely take their digital assets and resurface in the near future under new identities and domains.”