Darknet Markets: Learning How to Get There is Half the Battle

Privacy

So you’ve recently heard about a place called the Deep Web, and the underground darknet markets (DNM) that reside there offering narcotics like cannabis online. Using these websites and the wares these markets sell may be illegal in your country, so learning to take the necessary precautions before visiting a DNM is an absolute must. Educating yourself on the basics of operations security (Opsec) is a great idea before exploring the depths of DNMs found on the invisible web.
Also read: Six Alternatives to Telegram for Cryptocurrency Communities
Learn the Very Basics of Deep Web Opsec Before Visiting a Darknet Market
Just recently, news.Bitcoin.com reported on the top DNMs out there – like the Dream Market, Wall Street, and Point Marketplace places which are entrenched in code within the confines of the deep web. Now maybe you have heard about these places before, but it’s always good to learn the very basic Opsec techniques that are highly recommended before purchasing something, or even entering a darknet market.
A Browser That Crawls the Deep Web is Required
The first and foremost thing to learn is you can’t find DNMs using a Google browser. Only a deep web indexing browser like Tor can get you to those special destinations. Tor is a free browser that enables a level of anonymous communication by concealing every Tor user’s identity under an overlay network of relay nodes. Tor also allows users to access the deep web and .onion addresses. Basically, a .onion is just a domain suffix, which is tethered to a hidden website found only on the invisible web. Downloading and using a deep web browser like Tor to access any DNM is required.
Tor is a free browser that enables a level of anonymous communication.
 Tor is Nice But a VPN Obfuscates Internet Traffic Even More
Next up is acquiring a Virtual Private Network (VPN), because most people would agree that using Tor alone is just not enough Opsec to visit a DNM. Whenever someone surfs the web, and visits any website they leak the IP address which is tied to a physical address. Using a VPN a user can extend a private network transversely online negating an individual or organization’s ability to tie an IP address to the end user.
A VPN is highly recommended for visiting any DNM or doing anything that may get you in trouble with law enforcement.
VPNs are also used for when people download or seed torrents on the Piratebay, or when a citizen from China wants to see the internet beyond the Great Firewall. VPNs will mask an IP address and encrypt an individual’s online traffic in order to do a lot of things that need privacy including visiting a DNM.
Finding Reliable DNM Vendor Takes Time and Research
Finding a DNM and reliable vendor is the next step and only the first part is fairly easy. DNM .onion addresses for darknet marketplaces, like the ones we recently reported on can be found online within five minutes or less. However, finding a reliable trustworthy vendor for anything on the deep web is pretty difficult, even when perusing through the halls of marketplaces like Dream or Wall Street. Back when Reddit allowed the forum r/darknetmarkets to thrive, people used to try and find reputable vendors through word of mouth, but Reddit shut the forum down. Not all vendors are trustworthy, as you should read about their reputations from customer reviews, and make sure you feel comfortable with the vendor’s terms.
In Order to Make Purchases, You Are Going to Need Some Bitcoin
In order to purchase anything on a DNM, the market will require you to obtain some cryptocurrency to buy things. Bitcoin Core (BTC) is the most widely used digital currency used on the deep web, but some markets have been known to accept other cryptocurrencies, such as Monero (XMR).
Now, you can’t just load up on bitcoins using Coinbase and just head straight to a DNM. Purchasing from centralized exchanges that follow KYC and AML laws is not recommended, unless the coins can be tumbled first. Coinbase and other exchanges have been known for blacklisting accounts who visit DNMs, and even cryptocurrency gambling sites. Using bitcoins bought from centralized trading platforms can also be tied to your location. So to purchase bitcoins for use on a hidden marketplace most people would recommend utilizing a decentralized exchange, Localbitcoins, or a bitcoin ATM that doesn’t require identification. Buying bitcoins with cash from a friend or another type of non-centralized source would be the best method at hand.
Bitcoin is required to make DNM purchases some marketplaces allow other cryptocurrencies like Monero.
These Steps Just Scratch the Surface, Make Sure You Research More About the Best DNM Opsec Methods and Study Marketplace Tutorials   
Using these basic tools and Opsec techniques will get you started and along your way towards visiting a DNM, and possibly make a purchase. But remember it may be illegal where you reside to partake in these types of activities, and even the smartest darknet masterminds have been caught by law enforcement. Studying further on how to use a specific DNM and how they operate is a good idea before attempting a visit. It’s also good to get a PGP email as well that allows encrypted messaging abilities, because vendors use this method for communications.
There are many more ways you can prepare to make a trek to the deep web’s dark marketplaces, and this advice just scratches the surface. Research how to use and understand the Tor network, VPNs, tumblers, and maybe read a tutorial on how to make a purchase on the DNM you plan to visit. Preserving your privacy while doing anything online is always recommended, but doing so while visiting a darknet market is probably best. Once you feel comfortable with most of these privacy-centric methods, finding a .onion address for any popular DNM is extremely simple, and hidden marketplace addresses can be found on the open web. 
What do you think about the basic Opsec methods needed before visiting a DNM? Is there anything that we missed? How do you best protect your identity while visiting DNMs? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, and Wiki Commons.

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