A darknet marketplaces is nothing more than a commercial website that lives on a darknet. If these websites live on the darknet, how does it differentiate from the internet? The internet is essential to the global system of interconnected computer networks using the Internet protocol suite, TCP/IP. For example, the world wide web, which can be seen as an information system where documents and other web resources are identified, is carried on the internet.
The darknet is nothing fancy. It’s just a different set of protocols. The darknet can also be described as an overlay network within the internet that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations, or authorization and often uses a unique customized communication protocol. Tor, for example, is most commonly associated with the darknet and sometimes even perceived as the darknet itself, which is not entirely true.
There are numerous other communication protocols and software solutions to access different forms of darknets, including I2P, Freenet, Riffle, Tribler, and Zero net. Initially, the darknet was meant to defend digital rights by providing security, anonymity, or censorship resistance. Shortly after that, it was detected by and used by both criminals.
So darknet marketplaces function primarily as black markets, selling or brokering transactions involving drugs, cyber-arms, weapons, counterfeit currency, stolen credit card details, forged documents, unlicensed pharmaceuticals, steroids, and other illicit goods, as well as the sale of legal products.
Most commonly, the darknet marketplaces use a form of cryptocurrency to facilitate payments. So the anonymity of these marketplaces is matched with the alleged anonymity of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin remains the most common cryptocurrency on darknet marketplaces. However, other darknet marketplaces favor different cryptocurrencies.
Just like eCommerce stores on the regular web, darknet marketplaces come and go and rise in fall in popularity. Currently, and from my perspective, Empire is the most popular darknet market but is frequently offline for periods, making it hard to access. White House Market is another popular market but requires you to use Monero instead of Bitcoin. To find out which darknet markets are currently popular, see Darknetlive.com or dark.fail.
The mainstay of darknet markets is the sale of illegal drugs. According to the RAND Corporation, Carnegie Mellon University researchers concluded that darknet markets accounted for $100 million to $180 million in total sales volume in 2015. Cannabis, ecstasy, and cocaine-related products accounted for roughly 70% of total sales. These online marketplaces have user review systems that are similar to those found on e-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon.
Sellers who deliver the goods on time receive higher ratings and a better reputation over time. Darknet markets offer sellers and buyers resources on how to get their products through the mail, such as what supplies are needed to disguise shipments and techniques to avoid detection.
Darknet markets are dark web black markets that sell illegal goods and frequently accept cryptocurrencies as payment. Although some products available for purchase are legal, illicit goods such as drugs, stolen information, and weapons are common in these markets.
Darknet market transactions are anonymous. These markets exist on the Tor network to provide users and darknet providers with security and anonymity. To protect the seller and buyer, transactions are conducted using a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and dark wallets. To deter scammers, the site operator holds the payment in escrow. The only exposed link in the chain is the delivery of the goods via the postal system.