The online drug market the Silk Road captured international attention back in 2013, despite being at best a minor market for drug sales, not least because the case had some bizarre crimes tied to it. But, even though it was quickly broken up, unsurprisingly the concept has lived on, and international authorities just took down two major markets.
The two markets, AlphaBay and Hansa, were online bazaars selling credit card numbers, personal data, and other material, which was what drew the attention of authorities from multiple countries. AlphaBay in particular was notorious for an “autoshop” that allowed buyers to find credit card numbers in specific countries, but the collapse came shockingly quickly for both sites. In fact, Hansa had been taken over right before AlphaBay closed, meaning a string of hackers and online criminals hopped straight into the arms of authorities. Millions of dollars of Bitcoin have been confiscated.
That said, this is hardly the end of online black markets. They’re simple to set up, and rely on cryptocurrency that’s difficult to trace. In fact, one of the biggest problems for hackers is that there’s no honor among thieves. Often a market will open, sales will begin, and then suddenly the currency will vanish along with the market and its administrators. Really, as long as there are criminals, or suckers for that matter, there are going to be credit card numbers out there to buy.