The world’s largest darknet website, Dream Market, will close on April 30th amid speculation of a bust by law enforcement.
After weeks of downtime and DDOS attacks, users of Dream Market were greeted by an announcement stating that the market is “shutting down and is transferring its services to a partner company”.
In order to purchase illicit goods from darknet markets, users must make the purchase using cryptocurrency, with Bitcoin and Monero being the most popular options.
Speculation has been rife over why exactly the longest-running market will cease operations later this month, but it has been suggested that the FBI and law enforcement are involved.
During the 2013 closure of Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road, the FBI maintained the marketplace for a few weeks in order to seduce users into handing over personal information.
But claims of FBI involvement have been refuted by Dream forum admin ‘Hugbunter’, who has claimed that the market was hacked and held to ransom to the tune of $400,000.
The hacker allegedly exploited a browser bug that makes an attack of this magnitude relatively cheap and easy to maintain. According to Hugbunter, Dream has so far refused to pay the ransom.
Users of the forum are being advised to proceed with caution in case of a honeypot scheme by law enforcement, although it will be almost impossible for the FBI to catch criminals and drug dealers if they use PGP encryption when typing in personal information.
PGP encryption works by using two sets of private keys. One user will encrypt and sign a message using their own private key, while the recipient will be able to unlock it using theirs. No other party will be able to decipher the message, which is why it’s become a common tool used by darknet users over the past decade.