Has the Trade Route marketplace been hacked? In the past few days, Trade Route users have received alarming letters that not only blackmail them for ransom but also threaten to expose their identity. It has been a long tradition that the top darknet marketplace sites like Trade Route have been used by anonymous people to purchase goods and services which are mostly illegal.
According to the Merkle news, “Someone” believed to be a hacker has been sending Trade Route users threatening mail through their physical addresses. The mail alerts the users that their data has been leaked. In order to avoid being exposed or handed over to the police, the users have to pay a certain amount of Bitcoin to a specific bitcoin wallet address.
Users of TradeRoute Darknet Marketplace Receive Threats via Physical Mail https://t.co/nxpFcGHEF9
— The Merkle (@themerklenews) November 27, 2017
The primary reason why darknet marketplaces exist is so that buyers or sellers are at liberty to conduct their legal or in some cases illegal activities without fear of taxes, or police, or hassles of leaving the house. But once their identity is at risk of being exposed, fear is what looms.
It is not the first time a darknet marketplace is under attack. In fact, this year alone two of the biggest markets since the Silk Road was shut down, Alphabay and Hansa Market were shut down after being seized by government agencies. Hence, becoming some of the biggest accomplishments by police in curbing deep web site, this resulted in the arrest of many deep web users thereafter. It is however surprising that the police are not taking credit for the current threat but a rather more familiar face to the darknet market.
The hacker, who claims to be part of the “Anonymous hacker collective,” wants a ransom of 0.3 BTC. Most victims are however calling it a bluff as this is a desperate attempt to extort the users. The threat will definitely fall on deaf ears as the information which the hacker has holds no grounds and can always be denied. In addition, the information does not link any user directly to any illegal darknet activities.
Currently, only a few Trade Route users received a letter, in which the “hacker” explains that he/she has in his/her possession, incriminating information from the platforms hacked. The letter also asks the victims to pay off a certain amount of bitcoin to avoid having their personal information sent to the police. Although this ascertains users that it was the work of the police, it does not, however, bring relief.
On October 13 of this year, Trade Route and three other popular darknet marketplace, Dream Market, Tochka and Wall Street, went offline. The DDoS attack was attributed to hackers who attempted to shut down the site by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources, according to the International Business Times.
The current threat plus the fall of major darknet markets prompts the need for more secure platforms and also more anonymous payment solution. With the growth of other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Monero, new and upcoming markets are opting to use them as opposed to the traditional Bitcoin. One such darknet marketplace is Libertas, the only Monero traded darknet marketplace.