Agora (online marketplace)
Type of site
Agora was unaffected by Operation Onymous, the November 2014 seizure of several darknet websites (most notably Silk Road 2.0). After Evolution closed in an exit scam in March 2015, Agora replaced it as the largest darknet market.
In October 2014 to January 2015, the art collective !Mediengruppe Bitnik explored darknet culture in an exhibition in Switzerland entitled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, displaying the purchases of the Random Darknet Shopper, an automated online shopping bot which spent $100 in Bitcoins per week on Agora. The aim was to examine philosophical questions surrounding the darknet, such as the legal culpability of a piece of software or robot. The exhibition of the robot's purchases, a landscape of traded goods that included a bag of ten 120mg Ecstasy pills "with no bullshit inside" (containing 90mg of MDMA), was staged next-door to a police station near Zürich.
In August 2015 Agora's admins released a PGP signed message announcing a pause of operations to protect the site against potential attacks that they believe might be used to deanonymize server locations:
Recently research had come [sic] that shed some light on vulnerabilities in Tor Hidden Services protocol which could help to deanonymize server locations. Most of the new and previously known methods do require substantial resources to be executed, but the new research shows that the amount of resources could be much lower than expected, and in our case we do believe we have interested parties who possess such resources.
We have a solution in the works which will require big changes into our software stack which we believe will mitigate such problems, but unfortunately it will take time to implement. Additionally, we have recently been discovering suspicious activity around our servers which led us to believe that some of the attacks described in the research could be going on and we decided to move servers once again, however this is only a temporary solution.
At this point, while we don't have a solution ready it would be unsafe to keep our users using the service, since they would be in jeopardy. Thus, and to our great sadness we have to take the market offline for a while, until we can develop a better solution. This is the best course of action for everyone involved.
- Martin, Jeremy (2015-05-15). The Beginner's Guide to the Internet Underground (2nd ed.). Information Warfare Center. ASIN B00FNRU47E.
- Andy Greenberg. "Not Just Silk Road 2: Feds Seize Two Other Drug Markets and Counting". Wired, 6 November 2014.
- Andy Greenberg. "Drug Market ‘Agora’ Replaces the Silk Road as King of the Dark Net". Wired, 2 September 2014.
- Pangburn, DJ (13 January 2015). "The Best Things a Random Bot Bought on the Dark Net". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Power, Mike (5 December 2014). "What happens when a software bot goes on a darknet shopping spree?". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- website of !Mediengruppe Bitnik
- Greenberg, Andy (26 August 2015). "Agora, the Dark Web's Biggest Drug Market, Is Going Offline". Wired. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Agora to pause operations. (Message of Agora's admins)". Reddit.com/r/DarkNetMarkets. Retrieved 27 August 2015.