This post will teach you all you need to know to connect to Hydra, the darknet’s largest market.
Hydra, which launched in 2015, is one of the oldest and perhaps longest-running darknet markets. It is also the most well-known, as ransomware perpetrators commonly use BTC cashout services provided by market sellers. The market, which is fully in Cyrillic (Russian) and only accepts Bitcoin, has tens of thousands of product listings for the majority of prominent darknet product categories. Despite rising international pressure to demolish Hydra’s infrastructure, Russia appears unwilling to do so. This has only increased its appeal, establishing it as a fixture on the dark web.
On the one side, Hydra is the largest darknet market by orders of magnitude, with massive selections of almost anything a darknet market could want. On the other hand, it is essentially Russia’s only darknet market – all others never run continuously for long – and hence its monopolistic characteristics can lead to higher prices than in regions with more competition. According to one version of Hydra’s history, it was formed when three competing marketplaces banded together to eliminate the competition. Other market reasoning says that market leadership is spread, which means that it can continue to operate even if one admin or component is shut down.
One of the intriguing aspects of Hydra is that upon registering an account, each new user is required to agree to a lengthy Terms of Service. It is unclear if the market engages in this practice to settle consumer complaints or because they believe it will absolve them of some legal liability, but the fact remains that it is extremely unlawful within its (assumed) host country of Russia. For one thing, Russia has extremely strong drug laws, which would almost definitely be enough to shut down the business legally. If you are not in one of the Russian Federation nations listed as an option during register, do not attempt to make a purchase from the market.
Despite Hydra’s bad image (because to some of its vendors moving monies associated with high-profile crimes), the market has prohibited the selling of many traditional commodities found on the darknet. Weapons, poisons, contract assassinations, explosives, carding, “secret state information,” fentanyl, pornographic materials, viruses, and “other tools to commit criminal operations via cyberattacks” are among them. Furthermore, dead-drops (leaving products or “creating treasures”) are prohibited near schools, playgrounds, cemeteries, government-owned land, and commercial organizations. This proves that the market, at the very least, has some fundamental principles.
Hydra Market Fundamentals
- Hydra Market Link: hydram6esdjf6otepmr5c3vjyndsoddz22afphbbjznwb5ln2c6op7ad.onion
- Year founded: 2015
- Cryptocurrencies accepted: Bitcoin (BTC)
- Total Product/Service listings: 100,000+ (unknown)
- Listing Categories: Marijuana, Stimulants, “Euphoretics”, Psychedelics, Entheogens, Ecstasy, Dissociatives, Opiates, Chemical Reagents / Precursors, Pharmaceuticals, BTC Cashout, SSH, VPN, Digital Goods, Documents
- Multi-signature escrow? No
- Finalize Early? No
- Cost of vendor bond: $400+ (must have significant sales before withdraws are enabled)
Prior to Beginning
To access Hydra or other darknet marketplace, you must have at least rudimentary understanding of a variety of subjects. Skimping on understanding of these areas could lead to a disastrous darknet market experience, so we strongly advise you to become acquainted with them before attempting to utilize Hydra. Among them are the following:
- Bitcoin transactions. You must know how to send and receive Bitcoin (BTC). You should also familiarize yourself with the concept of “Bitcoin mixing,” which is the practice of obfuscating the source or trail of BTC transactions, as these can easily be monitored. ChipMixer is a trustworthy example of such as service, as is the Whirlpool feature of the Samourai Wallet.
- OpSec. Short for Operations Security, OpSec (as it pertains to the dark web) is the art of revealing as little information about yourself through your online activity as possible. This can mean things as basic as never using a login name for a darknet market that you’ve used on the clearnet, or as complicated as using completely untraceable Bitcoin to make deposits for market purchases.
There is no such thing as over-learning about the subjects mentioned above, just as there is no such thing as being over-prepared. A little knowledge can go a long way and mean the difference between a good and a disastrous darknet market experience.
Hydra Territory Restrictions
Keep in mind that Hydra only caters to buyers and sellers in the following countries:
If you live outside of these nations, you will have limited luck placing an order for a tangible item (especially since the ‘dead drop’ approach is gaining popularity over traditional delivery methods). Digital commodities, on the other hand, are still available in all nations.
Disclaimer: This guide is intended for research purposes only and should not be taken as legal or other advice. The authors of this handbook do not support unlawful conduct in your jurisdiction or others. You use the information in this guide and/or Hydra at your own risk.
Making an Account
After completing a brief captcha and reaching the Hydra homepage, you will be presented with the standard login screen (except it will be in Russian instead of English). Click the center option on the screen to create an account.
You will be directed to the registration screen, which should look something like this:
The black dots represent the password, which is repeated on the next line. When you log into the market, you will input the first name you enter (Login Name) together with your password. After completing the captcha and clicking the blue Enter button below, your account will be established (if your username has not already been selected), and you will be taken to a screen with a user agreement. Whether or not you can read Russian, you’ll want to understand what you’re signing because Hydra takes its regulations extremely seriously.
After thoroughly reviewing the terms, click the blue button at the bottom to accept. You will be taken to a new screen where you will be asked for your general delivery location. You can then restrict your search by selecting a specific “town” or region within that country. If you don’t identify what you’re clicking, let’s be honest: you probably shouldn’t be attempting to create an account on Hydra.
After you’ve chosen your country and town, click the blue button at the bottom to proceed. You will now be taken to the Hydra main page, where you can browse the market.
It’s worth noting that Hydra logins never time out. This means that you will remain logged in to the market even if you leave the session and return hours later. To avoid the risk of jeopardizing yourself, log out of the market once you’ve finished. The market logout button can be found directly under the BTC price in rubles (beginning with the letter “B”) for future reference:
Making a PGP Key
Though Hydra does not impose PGP encryption, it is strongly advised that you add a PGP key to your profile in order to receive encrypted communications (you should also always encrypt any sensitive information with a vendor’s PGP key before providing it, especially shipping details). Click on your username in the upper-right corner of the screen to do so. This takes you to your user profile page. Scroll down until you see the fields shown below:
The options on the left are for general site configuration. Paste your PGP public key into the text box on the right side of the screen. To proceed, paste your PGP key here and push the blue button. If you input the key correctly, you will see a green notification near the top of the screen indicating that your profile has been successfully updated. There is no way to check proof of PGP key possession, so make sure you enter it accurately the first time.
It has been reported that many Hydra vendors do not care to PGP encrypt purchase information, nor do they expect their customers to do so. When given the possibility, you should always configure your market account with a PGP key and PGP-encrypt information sent to vendors.
Making a Deposit
Hydra employs the typical market account and escrow mechanism, which requires a deposit before placing an order. Hydra exclusively accepts Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency (BTC). To make a deposit, go to the upper-right corner of the screen and click on your BTC wallet balance (it should say “0 BTC”) (next to your public username). This should take you to your account balance page and BTC deposit address, which should look like this:
After two confirmations, BTC supplied to this address will be credited to your Hydra account. After your money is credited, your address will change, and it is not recommended to make multiple deposits to the same address.
OpSec Tips for Deposit
One of the most important regulations of using darknet markets is to never deposit BTC (or any coin) directly from an exchange. This is especially true for Hydra, as transactions to and from the market are closely inspected by a variety of institutions, both state-sponsored and non-state-sponsored. You should also think about using a Bitcoin mixing/tumbling service before making the deposit, or at the very least send funds that cannot be tracked back to you.
Exploring Hydra Market
Hydra’s layout differs from that of most other markets in that the main screen displays a list of top suppliers known to have “stores” in one or more countries/locations. Shoppers are urged to browse by shop rather than perusing all listings and filtering them by areas delivered. The menu options have been translated, with the translation shown in black lettering beneath each option. It should be noted that the Shops option is displayed by default.
When you click on a vendor shop, you will see its collection of listings, as well as some basic information about the store, such as the total number of trades, overall feedback rating, and the shop’s “Showcase” (collection of listings) that is displayed by default.
Showcase, Forum, About, Reviews, Work (jobs), Rules, and Buyer Section are all available in every vendor store (translated left to right). You should be able to locate everything you need inside these tabs to evaluate if this dealer is not only skilled but will also service your location. If you prefer to browse by product type, you can do so as well. Simply click the Goods tab to see the market Catalog page.
The homepage display for most markets is seen below, with listings categories in the left panel and featured products in the main. Hydra’s categories comprise the following (translated from top to bottom):
- Chemical Reagents / Precursors
- BTC Cashout
- SSH, VPN
- Digital Goods
The majority of listings on Hydra are for drugs, like with most darknet marketplaces, but they also have a big assortment of non-physical things, and of course, their BTC cashout service is what has made them the most (in)famous. When you click on a listing, you will see the following information:
The product name is on the left, followed by the shape (in this example, “crystal”). The item price in rubles is listed below, along with the product weight (0.5 grams). Following this is a list of locations where the product can be purchased (from this vendor), followed by a brief description provided by the vendor. On the right, we see a full-size image of the product, as well as the overall product rating (“10”), the opportunity to Favorite the listing, and further product images.
Making a Purchase
When you’ve selected a product you want to buy, scroll down to the bottom of its listing page until you see two tabs: “Instant” (the default) and “Pre-Order.” Not every provider will offer both of these options. “Instant” orders are those that are left at a specified physical place for the buyer to retrieve via the “dead drop” procedure. Traditional order delivery through postal carrier or delivery to a central place is referred to as “pre-order.” Here’s an example of a vendor’s “Instant” options:
Here we see some of the vendors’ service areas, followed by the sort of terrain on which the “prize” can be found (in this case, “Earthen”), and finally the weight of the object to be picked up (0.5 grams). The product price in rubles / BTC is shown on the right column, followed by the pick button. Pressing the other tab exposes the vendor’s Pre-Order options.
In this situation, the merchant only offers Pre-Order in one city (Moscow), but only for a product weight of 1000 grams at a price of 680,000 rubles, or 0.155668581 BTC. For the rest of this example, we’ll be demonstrating a “Instant”-type purchase (as these are more popular on Hydra), so we’ll return to the other tab and choose one of the dead drop location possibilities.
Below the product name, we can see the following information:
- Deal type (Instant)
- Location (Mytishy Boltino)
- Quantity (0.5 grams)
- “Treasure type” (Any, or Earthen Ditch)
- Promo code
- Total BTC payment, current account balance, and Top Up option.
If you do not have enough BTC to complete the transaction, Hydra will provide you with some BTC/RUB exchangers below the order confirmation screen. If you have enough BTC to make the purchase, click the blue “Confirm Order” button to proceed. The vendor will then receive your order and begin preparing it for the drop. After the item has been dropped, the vendor will inform you with the precise location of the drop, which is normally given by GPS coordinates and a description. You are now free to go find your “prize.”
When the item is picked up, the buyer is supposed to confirm with Hydra that they have received their order and that it is in excellent condition, allowing buyer monies held by market escrow to be released to the vendor. If the item cannot be found, is in poor condition, or is otherwise not as expected, the buyer may file a dispute with the vendor. Hydra is recognized for punishing scammers and dishonest vendors severely, while rewarding long-term honest suppliers with particular benefits. The administrators have been at their job for a long time and understand the necessity of being fair when it comes to conflict resolution.
Hydra Market URL: hydram6esdjf6otepmr5c3vjyndsoddz22afphbbjznwb5ln2c6op7ad.onion
Hydra is a one-of-a-kind darknet marketplace that only serves consumers in the Russian Federation, formerly known as the ex-Soviet Union. Nothing like it existed before, and nothing like it will exist after it is ultimately shut down – or when its operators finally decide to retire – whichever happens first. Hydra is clearly too profitable an enterprise, presumably sanctioned by the Russian government, to go down. It is efficient and ambitious, yet guided by basic principles of good business conduct.
To give you an indication of how large Hydra is, in 2020 it processed more sales than all other darknet markets combined, and by a large margin. In today’s day and age of monitoring, clients are hesitant to rely on traditional postal procedures, hence the market’s dead drop approach has proven to be extremely popular. There aren’t many more successful darknet marketplaces out there, and Hydra will serve as a blueprint for future generations of darknet markets.