The recent victory of global law enforcement in taking down dark markets Alpha Bay and Hansa earlier this year was much publicized. That it was only the latest in a succession of similar operations since 2014 seemed to spell the end for the trade of illicit goods and services over the Internet.
But as Aero Marketplace (this is a site hosted by Tor hidden services, so it will not be visible without using a Tor browser) proved with their audacious launch announced publicly on clearnet social media Reddit on October 3, there is no shortage of daring entrepreneurs eager to fill the void of a multi-billion dollar industry left by the original Silk Road network.
The carefully worded announcement indicates an experienced development team that claims to have learnt from the security mistakes of their predecessors, proposing to create “a new generation of Dark Net Blackmarket”.
It promises some of the latest security features previously lacking on past dark marketplaces such as PGP encryption, enforced 2FA security and 2-3-Multisig escrow systems. An inbuilt suite of last-ditch security measures aimed at protecting users in case of takeovers include kill-switch password, on-screen pin entry and burn accounts which destroy all account data after use.
Notable also was that it would continue to accept Bitcoin as currency on the platform, but only as a secondary option, “recognizing how much of a liability Bitcoin can be”. This alludes to Bitcoin’s pseudo-anonymous nature of public transactions, widely believed to be downfall of Silk Road and others.
Instead, Aero Marketplace will accept anonymous cryptocurrency Monero as the premier currency of choice due to its capabilities at hiding both the identities of the sender and receivers,. It aims to be a “Monero-first marketplace” and will gradually remove Bitcoin once Monero develops the ability for true multisig transactions.
Monero first reached prominence in mid-2016 when dark markets began accepting it for payment, but has struggled for wide adoption due to its complex method of transacting, which requires significantly more advanced technical knowledge from users.