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Drug dealers offer Black Friday deals on the dark web

'Online discounts for criminals are an excellent opportunity for site operators to increase sales and attract new buyers,' researcher says

Anthony Cuthbertson
Friday 22 November 2019 10:08 GMT
Deals are set to spread across the dark web for Black Friday 2019
Deals are set to spread across the dark web for Black Friday 2019 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Criminals on the dark web are offering huge discounts on drugs, stolen credit cards and hacking tools for Black Friday 2019.

With just one week to go until one of the biggest shopping events of the year, Black Friday deals are already being listed on the dark web – a hidden section of the internet only accessible using specialist software.

More than 1,600 posts about ‘Black Friday 2019’ have appeared on criminal forums over the last few weeks, according to data from cyber risk firm Digital Shadows.

Offers range from a 30 per cent discount across all items listed on the site, to extra discounts for buyers who spend over $2,000 in one go.

“People are always on the lookout for deals, regular consumer and cyber criminal alike. This is why towards the beginning of November, users on dark web forums typically flock to create threads dedicated to finding and sharing the best Black Friday deals,” Digital Shadows research analyst Alex Guirakhoo told The Independent.

“On dark web marketplaces, Black Friday is an excellent opportunity for site operators to increase sales and attract new buyers. Attracting new customers is particularly important, as consistent law enforcement action and repeated exit scams on popular marketplaces have thrown the ecosystem into disarray.”

Emily Wilson, a dark web researcher at Terbium Labs who tracks the trend told The Independent that these types of sales have become “a standard fare in the criminal forums and markets” in recent years.

Unlike mainstream vendors, however, Ms Wilson noted that sellers on the dark web usually save most of their markdowns for the actual day of Black Friday, meaning thousands more listings will likely appear on Friday, 29 November.

Dark web deals are also expected to spike on 2 December for Cyber Monday, which last year became the biggest online shopping day in US history.

The dark web trends have been recorded in recent years by Digital Shadows, who noted in a blog post that online criminals tend to mirror the trends taking place on the surface web to promote their products.

Black Friday mentions across the dark web in 2017 and 2018 (Digital Shadows)

Criminals also use popular messaging and social media apps like Telegram and Instagram to advertise their profiles on dark web markets.

Some even include discount codes and coupons to use on items like counterfeit products, cocaine and botnets capable of carrying out powerful cyber attacks.

This could potentially lead to an increase in hacks on Black Friday this year, as customers make use of their discounted goods. These could be particularly damaging as more and more consumers go online to do their Christmas shopping.

“As more and more people turn to online shopping, cyber criminals are provided with a much larger landscape to conduct fraud,” Digital Shadows warned.

“Retail and e-commerce organisations have a wealth of sensitive data and deep supply chains that can expose your business, customers, and brand to a wide variety of digital risks.”

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