The Dark Web is a collection of hidden websites that can only be accessed using special means. While anyone can access these sites, in general, no one knows who owns them or where they are hosted.
The Dark Web offers an incredible level of anonymity to both those who host and visit websites. This means that plenty of strange and often illegal things happen there.
Thanks to the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, it’s now also possible to freely move money across the Dark Web. This has to lead to a massive economy on this relatively small hidden network. Hundreds of millions change hands every year through various revenue streams. So how are people making so much money on the Dark Web?
How Do They Get Paid?
So you just learned that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are the key to moving money across the Dark Web, but what does that mean?
We have much more detailed articles on Bitcoin and the Dark Web, but for the purposes of this article, we can go over the most important points.
Cryptocurrencies are the equivalent of digital cash. Unlike all other electronic transactions, there is no specific person linked to each instance of money changing hands. Encryption and a special distributed central ledger known as “blockchain” are used to verify all transactions, without the need for any sort of ID.
Thanks to this strong protection of identity, many people felt emboldened to use Bitcoin for black market transactions. Unfortunately, it turns out that Bitcoin isn’t really anonymous. However, newer cryptocurrencies have worked to solve whatever privacy holes have been found in Bitcoin. Regardless, when someone receives money over the Dark Web, it’s invariably in the form of crypto.
Selling Stuff on Black Markets
The most obvious way that people make money on the Dark Web is by selling items on markets. We’ve written at length about Darknet Markets if you are interested in the finer details. The most important thing to know is that these are basically like any normal online shopping site. The difference is that the people who are buying and selling are anonymous. The site itself acts as a middleman, enforcing trust and fair dealing. For that service, the market gets a cut of each deal.
All sorts of things are sold on Darknet Markets. The biggest money spinner when it comes to physical goods is drugs. Markets like the now-defunct Silk Road sent out tons and tons of illegal narcotics to buyers all over the world.
Of course, you can also buy things like stolen credit card details, weapons and really anything else you can think of. Some of the goods for sale are simply weird and not exactly illegal, but for the most part, selling contraband is the big moneymaker in these markets.
Hacking for Hire
If you’ve got the skills to pay the bills when it comes to hacking, then the Dark Web is the place to get paid. It actually makes sense that this is one of the main forms of income on the Dark Web. Since the network was the home of the hacker collective long before moving money over it was easy.
So what sorts of hacking can your Bitcoin buy? Every variety you can think of. You can hire hackers with every color of the hat. They will target your enemies, test your own security or simply steal and resell information. If it’s possible to do via hacking, someone will take your money to do it.
Making Illegal Content
The world is a pretty liberal place and in the free world, almost anything goes when it comes to content. There are still many limitations, however, especially when the content in question causes hurt to someone.
The Dark Web has become a haven for illegal content. Child pornography is the major example here and people will sell some of the most heinous material known to mankind here. It’s not pretty and will destroy your faith in humanity, but someone is still profiting from it.
Information is an incredibly valuable commodity and the Tor network was originally created to help people get important information out of tough places.
If you have some valuable information, why not sell it instead of giving it away. One lucrative new way to make money on the Dark Web is by selling the fruits of corporate espionage. The right information could be worth millions the right buyer and they’ll pay a lot for it.
Blackmail and Scams
There are a lot of potential victims on the Dark Web. Often the people looking to make money in the ways we discussed above end up being scammed. Since no one really knows who anyone is on the Dark Web, it’s hard to know if the deal you are being offered is legit.
Which is why many people end up making a bunch of money on the Dark Web on fooling other people on the hidden network. It’s not just straight up scamming either if people find incriminating evidence about a person they may blackmail them directly. Instead of finding a third-party to sell that information to. For example, if someone had a compromising video of a prominent person, they might demand regular payments to stop the material from being released to the media.
As you can tell, most of the ways that people make money on the Dark Web falls on the wrong side of the law. While there are also some people making a bit of money by getting donations or selling legal stuff on Darknet Markets, they don’t do even a tiny fraction of the trade the illegal goods do. So overall, selling stuff that’s against the law is the answer to how people make money on the Dark Web.
Do you know of other ways people make money on the Dark Web? Have you earned a few bucks on the Dark Web? Let us know in the comments. Lastly, we’d like to ask you to share this article online. And don’t forget that you can follow TechNadu on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!