Crypto exchanges on the dark web are facing a “bank run” because of falling cryptocurrency prices, security researchers have discovered. The fall in value is making it harder for threat actors to “monetise” their attacks, fun malware-as-a-service operations or buy vulnerabilities.
Cryptocurrencies have lost up to $1.8tn in value since the market’s peak in November 2021, Dov Lerner, security research lead at Cybersixgill, suggested. Holders are exchanging their crypto for more stable currencies.
Lerner also said that this has put pressure on regular cryptocurrency exchanges, forcing some to slow withdrawals to maintain liquidity. Further impact has been felt on the dark web.
Dark web exchanges operate outside the regulated financial markets and do not perform identity checks on their users. Lerner also says that the are purely changes and not crypto banks with the ability to store currencies. They also allow users to change money from service such as PayPal to crypto. Fees are often substantial.
Additionally, Lerner argued that the dark web exchanges have invested in branding and marketing to build trust.
Cybersixgill researchers have noted a significant drop-off in posts since the crash. Sampling 34 actors known to be operating on crypto exchanges in 2021, none are now posting about their services, despite being found in forums elsewhere.
Dark web actors also face a loss of their purchasing power. While dark web transactions use crypto, prices for services and materials are set in dollars. With crypto values falling, actors may be struggling to cover costs elsewhere.
Lerner speculates that if the value of crypto increases, the exchanges could well come back again too.