Shutdown of Russia’s Hydra Market Disrupts a Crypto-Crime ATM
On the dark web, the takedown of yet another cryptocurrency-based black market for drugs has become almost a semiannual routine, with plenty of competitors ready to fill the shoes of any market law enforcement manages to bust. But the seizure of the Russian-language dark-web site Hydra may have ripple effects that go further than most: It represents a disruption of not just the post-Soviet world’s biggest hub of online narcotics sales, but also of a cybercriminal money-laundering and cash-out service that had been used in crimes with victims across the globe. German law enforcement agencies announced early Tuesday morning that German federal police known as the BKA—in a joint operation with the FBI, DEA, IRS Criminal Investigations, and Homeland Security Investigations in the US—seized Hydra’s Germany-based servers, shutting down the site and confiscating $25 million in bitcoins stored there. In doing so, they’ve put an end to, by some measures, the longest-running and most crowded black market in the history of the dark web, with 19,000 seller accounts and more than 17 million customer accounts, according to BKA.