The operators of Genesis Market, a once-thriving Dark Web platform for stolen data and hacking services, are now attempting to sell their defunct enterprise. The FBI’s operation earlier this year resulted in the seizure of the platform’s clear web domains and the arrest of numerous site administrators and users.
However, it appears that the Dark Web platform, which was a hub for illicit activities, remains intact and is being offered for sale, as reported by The Record.
The advertisements, which surfaced on June 28, caught the attention of researchers and experts who had been closely monitoring Genesis Market. Michele Campobasso, a researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology, first identified a post on CrdClub, followed by Recorded Future News identifying an identical post on Exploit Forum.
The FBI’s operation in April led to the arrests of nearly 120 individuals globally who had been utilizing Genesis Market for fraudulent activities. Additionally, the law enforcement agency successfully located the platform’s backend servers, acquiring valuable information about approximately 59,000 user accounts. The impact of this operation extended not only to Genesis Market’s surviving .onion site but also affected its primary alternatives, Russian Market and 2easy Shop.
The user claimed that despite the FBI’s seizure of the marketplace’s open web domains, the Dark Web platform was still operational. The sale purportedly includes the complete database (excluding some client details), source codes, scripts, and server infrastructure.
Genesis Market stood out among its competitors by not only facilitating the sale of stolen data and credentials but also providing a platform that enabled criminals to weaponize that data using a custom browser extension for impersonation-as-a-service (IMPaaS). Campobasso stated that Genesis Market represented an innovative threat model in the cybercriminal ecosystem.
Who will buy Genesis Market?
There are multiple reasons why this attempt to sell the marketplace is expected to remain unfruitful. Firstly, it is important to note that purchasing a site like Genesis Market is illegal and could lead to severe legal consequences for the buyer. Furthermore, there is a possibility that this sale is part of an FBI honeypot operation, where law enforcement agencies entrap potential criminals.
Additionally, Genesis Market’s reputation among the Dark Web community has been irreparably damaged, making it unlikely to regain its former stature. While attempts were made to restore consumer confidence following the takedown, criminal forums banned the account associated with Genesis Market, reflecting the lack of trust within the Dark Web community.
As law enforcement agencies continue their relentless pursuit of cyber criminals, the Genesis Market saga serves as a reminder that digital crime never truly disappears but rather evolves to find new avenues for exploitation. The Dark Web landscape remains a battleground between criminals and law enforcement, with each side seeking to gain the upper hand in this ongoing cat-and-mouse game.