Darknet Markets Flourish in The Age of COVID-19Author: Sherlock GomesLast Updated: 20 July 2020 While the entire world is reeling under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, the darknet markets are flourishing. They have witnessed exponential growth with worldwide lockdowns and the number of first-time buyers increasing.Empire becomes the biggest marketplaceThe pandemic has created new opportunities for darknet marketplaces to find wider reach around the world. The biggest market on the darknet right now is Empire. The marketplace recently listed data of 142 million customers of MGM Grand hotel which was stolen last year, making headlines everywhere. Other popular marketplaces include Majestic Garden, Monopoly Market, Kilos, White House Market, Dark Market, Hydra, Global Dreams, etc.Dark.fail data stemming shows which of these DNMs are “online,” “offline” or “maybe” online. On July 11, the Twitter account of dark.fail said that “Empire Market is back online after ~18 hours of downtime. Their DDoS filter remained online throughout.’People are stuck at homeThe dark.fail analyst appeared for an interview with Vice and said that people were stuck in their homes and had time to explore. They have also been busy buying drugs. In January, these markets were becoming harder to access because of consistent attacks from hackers. However, now they are working at a quicker pace.Investigations from Mike Power also suggest that several first-time buyers flocked the online marketplaces during the lockdowns. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service of NCIS also suggested that officers of the US Navy are using DNMs more frequently while traveling abroad. A press release from the NCIS also suggested Navy officers to avoid buying LSD from the DNMs.The darknet marketplaces are using Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR) and Litecoin (LTC) as the three primary cryptocurrencies on their network. About 11 DNMs accept Bitcoin only on their platform, as noted in data from 1000x Group. Three other DNMs are using Bitcoin as well as other altcoins like XMR and LTC. White House Market and Monopoly Market are the two DNMs that stick to XMR acceptance.