Hydra: the fastest growing illegal dark web market today

Flashpoint cybersecurity specialists conducted detailed research on Hydra, one of the trading platforms on dark web, reporting a significant increase in the volume of transactions in this black market, demonstrating the capabilities of the administrators of this platform.

Hydra began trading in 2015 and quickly gained popularity by selling the most popular narcotics, although over time the platform’s operators began introducing new illegal services, including the sale of stolen credit cards, forgery of official documents, hacker recruitment, among others.

Researchers also argue that transactions in Hydra have increased massively, from about $9 million USD during their first year of operation to more than $1 billion USD by 2020.

Like virtually any black market on the dark web, Hydra users often resort to various cryptocurrency options for paying for these illegal services, as this form of payment allows to maintain a high degree of anonymity to those involved in these transactions.

On Hydra, it should be noted that this is a Russian-speaking forum and its operators have managed to evade law enforcement on multiple occasions, keeping their servers online and setting strict requirements for each new user and seller. For example, since mid-2018 Hydra traders have demanded that their sellers make at least 50 sales before they can withdraw funds, in addition to maintaining a cryptocurrency wallet with at least $10,000 USD.

Most cryptocurrency transactions registered by Hydra occur within Russian territory, as only a very small percentage of these trades are processed from overseas locations. In addition, the vast majority of these operations fail to comply with regulations established on Russian trading platforms.

Researchers recorded more than a thousand unique deposit addresses and transactions of more than $7 million USD, believed to be linked to Hydra.

Researchers also believe they have detected a new secondary market in recent times to gain access to established seller accounts, as well as users trying to circumvent Hydra’s fiduciary currency withdrawal requirements.

In recent times law enforcement agencies have managed to shut down multiple trading platforms on the dark web, including Silk Road or DarkMarket. However, Hydra operators always seem to be one step ahead of the authorities. To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.