Darknet Drug Markets Switches To Custom Android Apps

By   Adeola Adegunwa
Writer , Informationsecuritybuzz | Jan 10, 2023 01:55 pm PST

Custom Android apps are now being used by online drug and other illegal substance markets on the darknet to boost privacy and elude law enforcement. These apps enable customers of pharmacy stores to contact suppliers and give particular delivery instructions to couriers in addition to placing orders.

Around the start of the third quarter of 2022, experts at Resecurity noticed this new tendency. It is believed to be a reaction to the high-profile darknet market crackdowns of the previous year, most notably Hydra Market. With 19,000 registered merchants and 17 million customers globally, Hydra led the medical sales industry. German police seized its servers in April 2022, leaving a void in the industry.

Drug Traffickers Switching to Android

As Resecurity reported today, a number of minor actors tried to exploit Hydra’s abrupt demise and snare some of its orphaned user bases. They issued a warning, saying, “Our experts have lately detected some of these mobile apps on mobile devices confiscated by law enforcement – they belong to multiple suspects involved in drug trafficking and other illegal operations.”

Resecurity says in the study that “the mobile applications offer the opportunity to share details about successful drug orders and they can even send geographical coordinates of the “package” dropped by the courier for further pick-up.”

“To avoid potential indexing, such information is delivered as an image. […] Notes might include information about how far the “package” has been buried or how to locate it.”

The fragmentation that results from this information sharing taking place across numerous applications makes it difficult for law enforcement to keep track of everything and make arrests. According to Resecurity, the majority of the brand-new marketplaces that will be introduced in 2023 will have an Android app and gradually replace open market platforms and privacy-risking forums.

Fresh Big Names Emerges

The most well-known drug market platforms have refrained from embracing the Android app craze as of yet and are instead concentrating on the new battle for domination in the industry, which might grant one of them a monopoly similar to what Hydra has accomplished.

According to Resecurity, RuTor, WayAway, Legalizer, OMG!, Solaris, and Nemesis gained the most from Hydra’s shutdown. These marketplaces combined welcomed 795,000 new customers over the course of the previous summer.

Because there is now no prominent market leader and all platforms’ (and sellers’) reputations are in flux, this is a difficult time for individuals to buy fake drugs, subpar ingredients, or something different from what they ordered, which is ultimately very deadly.

Competing For Consumer Brand Awareness

Currently, there is an excess of items available on the market. An ecosystem was developed by Hydra. There was everything you could possibly need. New opportunities were presented for some by this, but market restructuring is a constant issue for all parties, one insider told Resecurity.

The organization claims that after Russia-affiliated Hydra, which had 19,000 registered merchants and 17 million clients globally at the time and was the largest darknet marketplace in the world, was shut down and seized in April 2022, at least ten new darknet markets have emerged to fill the void.

Most of the new markets are currently competing largely for consumer awareness of their brands and an opportunity to acquire some of Hydra’s abandoned user base.

According to Resecurity, RuTor, WayAway, Legalizer, OMG!, Solaris, and Nemesis gained the most from Hydra’s shutdown. These markets added 795,000 new users overall throughout the summer.

Additionally significant is that businesses have begun utilizing specialized smartphone apps and messaging services like Telegram. Due to increased law enforcement activity, some well-known underground actors advised customers to switch to alternative communication methods as a security precaution.

We have developed Telegram bots and increased the number of operators to serve all of your cities in light of the recent Hydra closure. Check Telegram to get the cities we operate in the list,” reads a post on the Olymp marketplace website in Russian.

Risks Associated With Darknet

Darknet markets are primarily utilized for the sale of illegal goods and services, stolen data, counterfeit goods, and marijuana. They are typically highly dangerous and used by criminals frequently. The numerous risks that the darknet marketplace presents are listed below.

  • Phishing

There are various dark websites that pose as markets, as we have discussed. To get money, they try to trick users into giving them access to their wallets. When using darknet markets, always verify the PGP encryption signature of the administrators and vendors.

  • Exit frauds

These happen when a seller accepts payments from clients while failing to deliver the promised goods. Exit scams are frequent when vendors are thinking about closing their businesses. With the transferred funds, they can simply “leave” the market, leaving buyers with no recourse. Exit scams have been used on users by marketplaces like Evolution that withdraw escrowed BTC to their own wallets.

  • Malware

Darknet marketplaces frequently feature the sale of digital goods. These frequently include software that can badly harm your system, such as computer viruses and ransomware. Many digital documents, including sheets with credit card data that have been stolen, frequently contain dangerous malware intended to infect computers. It is strongly advised that you stop downloading anything on the darknet unless you are positive that you can.

  • Legal repercussions

You can run into difficulty with the law if you buy unlawful goods on the darknet. Simply utilizing the Tor network or the black web is prohibited in some nations. Before using the Tor network or the black web, always confirm their legality in your nation.

How to Access Darknet Marketplaces Securely

  • Due to the risks connected to darknet marketplaces, consumers frequently take the appropriate safety and security precautions.
  • To conceal their IP address and prevent malicious exit nodes on the browser, they employ a VPN. They can remain anonymous thanks to this.
  • They set up a reliable antivirus program to get rid of malware risks on any dark web marketplace.
  • They turn off Flash and JavaScript in their browser. While JavaScript and Flash plugins allow websites to display dynamic content, such as movies, they are also frequently used to introduce attacks and security holes into systems.
  • When entering a darknet marketplace, they don’t divulge any personal information. Because there is a high risk of hackers and scammers abusing it, people use fictitious names and email addresses while they are online.
  • Remember, we don’t advise our readers to go to the darknet marketplaces themselves. No matter what precautions were taken during the purchase, any unlawful products obtained there will still be illegal.

Even though it’s intriguing to explore the shadowier aspects of the internet, consumers face severe risks when they use darknet marketplaces. We therefore strongly encourage consumers to avoid them. Visit a dark web marketplace only with a VPN and a powerful antivirus program. Never divulge personal information, and avoid anything that even slightly seems suspect.

Conclusion

Custom Android apps are now being used by dark web marketplaces that deal in drugs and other illegal goods to boost privacy and elude law enforcement. These apps enable customers of pharmacy stores to contact suppliers and give particular delivery instructions to couriers in addition to placing orders. Mid-year of 2022, experts at Resecurity noticed this new pattern. This is thought to be a response to the high-profile raids on the dark web market, notably the Hydra market, over the previous year.

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