Bitcoin Has a New Top Dark Market

A new study by a blockchain analytics firm has identified the most popular dark web markets.

AccessTimeIconOct 12, 2016 at 1:02 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:33 p.m. UTC
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Dream Market is now the most popular bitcoin-enabled dark market.

The finding is the result of a new collaboration between blockchain analytics startup Skry and information security firm Terbium Labs, one that analyzed millions of URLs to identify the most popular sites for illicit bitcoin commerce.

The case study, released today, is being positioned by the companies as a countermeasure against the rise of new proposals from the bitcoin community, including those such as CoinJoin and MimbleWimble, both of which seek to increase user privacy on the public blockchain.

Specifically, Palo Alto, California-based Skry used Terbium's Matchlight system to identify the top three most popular dark web markets in the dataset: Dream Market, AlphaBay Market and The Majestic Garden.

The partnership is designed to provide similar kinds of insight to bitcoin companies, financial institutions and law enforcement looking to track fraud and other criminal activities conducted using products built on blockchains and other distributed ledgers.

Previously known as Coinalytics, Skry used Matchlight to index 3.7 million public keys that appear on Tor hidden services, password-protected forums, dark web markets, i2p, popular paste sites and many other places.

From 11,000 dark web URLs, the partnership identified 22,000 public keys, of which there were 798 unique bitcoin public keys.

Top 3 dark web sites
Top 3 dark web sites

The feed of URLs was then incorporated into Skry's analytics platform, where it underwent further data aggregation and processing to provide "critical associative information," according to the statement.

In spite of the increased efficiency of efforts that track bitcoin usage on dark markets, however, bitcoin remains the most popular digital currency on the dark web, according to a recent report by two professors at the Department of War Studies at King's College London.

The case study released today, however, noted that other cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used in dark markets, including those with strong privacy features like Monero.

However, it noted that here, too, bitcoin plays a role, finding:

"This allows criminals to quickly exchange into another, or even multiple other currencies, and back to bitcoin to cash out."

Spider web image via Shutterstock


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