A Complete Guide to Darknet Marketplaces

The darknet markets are a topic that everyone should educate themselves on—whether you wish to use them yourself, or just so that you are aware of their existence and know a little bit about them.

Below is an overview of what darknet markets are, how they are found, what’s on them and how to stay safe on the deep, dark places of the web.

The darknet, a hidden network

The darknet first became popularized in 2002. It still operates over the same network as the regular internet; you just can’t find it unless you have special software to connect to it. All traffic operating over the network is encrypted, much like the traffic between your computer and your VPN (Virtual Private Network) is encrypted.

This makes it extremely difficult to determine who is looking at what on the darknet. Not only that, it is extremely difficult to determine who runs a darknet website, and from where.

From Silk Road to Dream Market

One of the first major uses of the darknet, and one that continues to flourish to this day is darknet market services—much like eBay, but on a secret network that makes identifying individuals exceedingly difficult to impossible. This means that it could be a marketplace that deals in items and services that people want to conceal what is purchased.

The first major darknet market was the infamous Silk Road. The Silk Road ran from 2011 to 2013 and gained notoriety worldwide, particularly when the market was shut down by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The founder and main administrator of the market was arrested and subsequently jailed for life.

However, just because law enforcement managed to shut down one market, of course, this didn’t mean it would stop the business from continuing. Other darknet markets proliferated, and we now have at least a dozen larger markets that continue to trade, including Dream Market.  

Items sold on darknet markets

The most common items that you will find on the darknet are illegal drugs. This covers everything from marijuana to cocaine and even more exotic illegal drugs like 2CB. You are also able to find opioid substances such as heroin and fentanyl quite easily.

Other items you can pick up include things like fake IDs, counterfeit money, and stolen jewelry. Digital goods include items like credit card details, eBooks on creating ransomware and hacking, as well as fraudulent accounts to services like Netflix and Uber. As for services, you can find hackers for rent and even services like hitmen for hire.

There are also, to a lesser degree, other items and services that are fully legal available on these markets.

Safety and darknet markets

It’s always important to stay educated about darknet topics.Read background information about different dark web markets and their seller bases, educating yourself about the broader network of darknet sites at large.

The dark web is rife with people trying to take advantage of newbies and those less technologically savvy than themselves. And unlike the regular internet, there is not much policing on the dark web.On the regular internet, banks will try and protect users as best they can, sending email warnings about hacked accounts and providing guidance on how to stay safe online. But this isn’t really the case on the darknet—you are left to fend for yourself for the most part.

You should always have an in-depth read about safety on the darknet before you get started with using it for anything other than a quick poke around at some of the more vanilla sites. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with something as contentious as the darknet.

Getting connected

To connect to the darknet markets you’ll need a special software program, namely the Tor browser. Once you have installed Tor, you can visit a darknet market. However, you aren’t able to use a search engine like Google to find it. You will need to enter the exact address of the darknet market you want into the search bar. You can find this on an authority site.

You need to make sure that you only ever enter the address itself, or get it from a highly reputable website. The reason for this is that many hackers will create a fake darknet market entry page that looks real from the outside. If you enter your details into it, they are able to steal the information and post it on the real site, and then steal your account and any funds in it.

You should never click on links for darknet markets anywhere. And if a “market administrator” sends you a personal message on the marketplace saying they are moving to a new site, just ignore it.

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