Last Updated on May 26, 2021 by Calvin C.
More than a billion dollars was processed by Russian cybercriminals in 2020. This was mainly attributed to increased cryptocurrency transactions on Russian Hydra marketplace.
Russian Hydra marketplace
Hydra was launched in 2015 and is the largest Russian language Darknet market (DNM), serving Russian-speaking countries.
This DNM is focused mainly on illicit drugs and was created to compete directly with Russian Anonymous Marketplace (RAMP).
RAMP was seized by Russian authorities in 2017 and this left Hydra as the leading DNM.
It is difficult to dismantle Hydra because it has evolved to use sophisticated methods to execute transactions and remain untraceable.
Drugs are delivered by anonymous couriers and buyers receive GPS coordinates of the spot where they have been hidden.
That way, there is no risk of the seller getting tracked down unlike when the conventional postal system is used.
No physical exchange takes place and locations (called drops) are always hidden.
In addition to illicit drugs, Hydra also sells fraud-related items like stolen credit cards, SIM cards, e-wallets, stolen accounts or counterfeit money.
There are also BTC cash-out services, with middlemen making profits for every transaction that takes place on the platform.
If your device is hacked and personal information is stolen, it usually finds its way to such a market place.
Vendors on Hydra are verified, giving it the ability to push large volumes of transactions without any hassles.
Reasons for the high revenue
- A detailed report, jointly published by Chainalysis and Flashpoint, revealed the following:
Hydra accounted for over 75% of all Darknet revenue generated worldwide in 2020.
“Hydra market activity has skyrocketed since its inception, with annual transaction volumes growing from a total of $9.40 million in 2016 to north of $1.37 billion by the end of 2020.
Observed through blockchain analysis, we see a staggering 624% year-over-year growth rate for Hydra in its three most recent years 2018 to 2020,” read a statement on Flashpoint.
This was mainly attributed to the migration of criminals from RAMP to Hydra after the former was taken down by Russian authorities.
In addition, all cryptocurrency withdrawals by sellers are routed through Russian cryptocurrency exchanges and payment services.
Sellers are also required to maintain a high minimum balance of $10000 and complete at least 50 sales before withdrawing from their accounts.
Hydra administrators benefit from this arrangement while sellers have no option but to comply with the requirements.
- There are plans to bring Hydra to the English speaking parts of the world and this will likely lead to an explosion of online criminal activity.
Already, in 2019 Hydra announced plans to raise $146 million for a new global DNM called Eternos.
Why you need online privacy and security
As you can see in the table below, there is a rise in the volume of transactions processed on Hydra platform:
|Year||Total transactions (USD)|
This means as an internet user, you always need to be wary of ongoing cyberattacks so that you become a target.
Cryptocurrency transactions and other credit card transactions have to be carried out without putting your e-wallet or its credentials at risk.
Cybercriminals have software that scans the internet for vulnerable accounts and exposed personal information.
Make sure you hide your online activity and mask your geo-location every time you are online.
A VPN is a tool that you need to become familiar with as it shields you from the majority of these cyberattacks.
It does this by hiding ALL your traffic from cybercriminals so that not even your location can be traced.
- Avoid dubious VPN services; some of them are even planted by cybercriminals to log your activities.
- There are several VPN services out there, but the overall best VPN is NordVPN:
- Hides your IP address
- Has Antimalware and Adblock
- Strong encryption with OpenVPN and NordLynx
- 24/7 customer support
- Strict no logs policy
- Zero DNS leaks
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 68% off a 2-year plan
As cybercriminals launch new platforms to do more damage, you need to make sure you are prepared to safeguard your online security and privacy.
The antivirus days have receded into the shadows. Nowadays, cyberattacks are very sophisticated and need more advanced protection.
It is best to use the internet anonymously especially when working with sensitive data.
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