HYDRA Market Review
HYDRA Market is a Russian-language darknet market similar to RAMP, in that it is comprised of independent sellers who have their own shops. They refer to themselves as a “trading platform” and a “center for arbitration,” as opposed to a market, however. This is likely due to the fact that the market is not directly involved with sales carried out by each vendor, though it does offer a feature to resolve disputes. HYDRA, like some other markets, focuses on recreational drugs, but also carries some digital goods and other items.
HYDRA Market URLs:
HYDRA Market Main URL: http://hydraruzxpnew4af.onion/
HYDRA Market Login: http://hydraruzxpnew4af.onion/login
HYDRA Market Account Registration URL: http://hydraruzxpnew4af.onion/register
How to Access HYDRA
As with other markets of this type, HYDRA is a darknet site hosted on the Tor network, meaning that it cannot be accessed with standard web browsers. You will need the Tor Browser, which is a fork of Mozilla Firefox, optimized for anonymity and privacy. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Tor functions very similarly to Firefox, but has a number of features to improve privacy. For more information on using the Tor Browser, please see our tutorial, How To Access .Onion Sites/Tor Sites.
In addition to the Tor Browser, you will also need these things:
- Bitcoin Mixers
Bitcoin is the form of currency used on most darknet markets. It is a digital currency referred to as a “cryptocurrency,” because encryption techniques are used both to control the generation of new units, and to verify the sale and transfer of funds. HYDRA also accepts payments through QIWI, which is a Russian financial service provider. The Russian equivalent of bitcoin is called bitRUBLE.
PGP is an acronym for “Pretty Good Privacy,” which is an encryption and decryption program. It is used on just about all darknet markets to encrypt and decipher messages that you might send to vendors, or to other users of the site, particularly if they contain sensitive information. For more information about how to use PGP, see our article PGP Tutorial for Newbies.
Bitcoin Mixers (a.k.a. tumblers) help disguise the source and destination of bitcoins, and are of particular use on the dark web, in cases where illicit goods are being bought and sold. We have reviews of several different mixers on our site, if you’re interested: Bitcoin Mixers
In addition to these three essentials, some users also like to use these things with Tor:
- Linux distribution
VPN stands for “virtual private network,” and is a method of creating a secure connection over an unsecured network. Using one in addition to Tor has the advantage of hiding your Tor usage from your ISP. Its downside, however, is that some VPN providers keep logs of your activity, which would defeat the purpose of Tor. If you do want to use one, research it and make sure that it really is as private as it claims to be.
Linux distributions, also known as “distros,” are operating systems made from software based on the Linux kernel. Depending on the distro, they can help improve your security while browsing the dark web. Two popular distros are Tails and Qubes.
Account Registration and Store Creation
Though the registration form for HYDRA appears to be quick and simple, this can be deceptive. While the form itself is short, due to the fact that it’s written in the Russian language, it may be difficult to understand for non-Russian speakers.
Beyond this, the form has several other confusing aspects: It asks for both a “username” and a “display name.” The username is the name that you’ll log in with, but the display name is the one that will be shown while you browse the market. So if your username was “battlehitchman,” and your display name was “freechans,” you would log in with “battlehitchman,” but after logging in, your name would be displayed as “freechans.” This is actually used for security purposes, as the username isn’t revealed to the public, so in essence, it’s like a password.
With regard to your login password, you are required to have a very strong one. In HYDRA’s case, this means something composed of letters and/or numbers, but without any repeated characters. Because of this, it seems to work better to use a “passphrase,” i.e. a sentence that you can easily remember but that would be hard for others to guess.
Store Creation: When you first register an account with HYDRA, it will be a buyer account by default. In other words, it won’t have any selling options accessible. In order to change this, you will have to click on the “Create Store” link found at the bottom of the page. After doing so, the site requires you to fill out several fields of information, in addition to paying for your vendor account. The amount of payment will vary depending on the length of time you want your store to be active. Said payment is referred to as “rent” on the site. On the HYDRA site itself, there is a more detailed guide as to how to set up your store; if it interests you, look for the link in the footer section of the site.
HYDRA Interface and Functions
Security issues aside, HYDRA Market does have a professional-looking and fairly easy-to-use interface. Be that as it may, if you aren’t a native Russian speaker, it might be a little more complex, as the site does not have an English version (nor any other languages, for that matter). Nevertheless, given that there are so many translation tools available now, you can always translate text that you don’t understand.
The site has a convenient search bar at the top so that you can find any products that you’re interested in. The menu bar, which is the blue bar at the top of the page, shows convenient links to each of the product categories, as well as the shop directory, product listings, a notepad option, and a bitcoin exchange.
HYDRA Categories and Listings
As mentioned above, HYDRA specializes in drugs, and does not sell any other types of items, such as weapons or digital goods. Its category tree is written in Russian; when translated into English, it consists of the following:
- Bosko (Head/Headies/High Quality Marijuana)
- Hard Mix
- Eyforetiki (a.k.a. “Euphoretics”)
- Digital Goods
- Maps, SIM
- Design and Graphics
The market has added more categories of goods since some other recent reviews. The “digital goods,” “documentation,” “maps,” and “design and graphics” categories are all relatively recent updates. As on other “honorable” darknet markets, HYDRA also has some items that are prohibited. These consist of the following:
- Weapons, such as explosives or toxicants
- Confidential government data
- Pornography (of any kind)
- Murder-for-hire services
- Substances with incorrect or unspecified chemical formulas
The result of infringement of these rules will be a permanent ban (without exceptions). In addition to the restrictions above, users are also forbidden to do any of the following: discuss any actions taken by the site’s admin, reveal information regarding the delivery or pickup of an item sold on the site, engage in flaming, flood the site with deceitful product reviews, link to other markets, and spread spam.
As on most other darknet markets, HYDRA shows each listing in a grid view with a thumbnail image; below that is the corresponding title, shop name, description, shipping origin, price, and ratings. In the list view, prices are listed in euro; to see their bitcoin equivalent, click on the listing page. Oddly, the shop names don’t include their corresponding links; perhaps the market will add this in the future. Rather, to access the shops, go to the listing page (on the top part of the site).
Nonetheless, it isn’t that difficult to use overall.
Search and Search Filters
HYDRA has a discernible search tool at the top of its landing page, which allows you to look for specific listings, and then sort or filter the results afterward. Unlike some larger markets, the sorting features here aren’t that complex, but for this market, they serve their purpose. You have the ability to filter results by those labeled as “Instant,” “Pre-Order,” or “Trusted.” Additionally, you can filter listings by shipping origin. The rest of the search you’ll have to do manually.
How to Choose a Vendor
If you’ve shopped on other darknet markets, then you should be familiar with the process of choosing a vendor on HYDRA. If you haven’t, then here are some pointers.
First, get to know a vendor by visiting her profile page. In order to see a complete list of all the vendors on the site, click the Shops link on the menu bar (it reads “магазины”). You should then see a visual list of all the shops, which looks like the picture above. Click on a vendor’s logo to find out more information about them.
It’s best to pick a vendor who is frequently active on the site, as well as one who has reasonable transaction terms. She should also have positive feedback from her clientele. If possible, it’s best to use a vendor who ships domestically. Finally, remember to use the site’s messaging system so that you can verify the transaction terms with each vendor.
How to Place an Order
Placing an order on HYDRA is a bit more complex than on some other darknet markets. You must first go to the product page, and review information about said item. There is no such button on the listing grid, so for each new transaction, you have to go to the item’s page.
The product pages have more than one “Buy” button; the reason for this is that each represents different quantities. As you can see, the menu above lists five different quantities, in ascending order by price. To purchase one, click on its corresponding Buy button (the blue ones that read “купить”). On the following page, you will be entering your shipping address; be sure to encrypt it with your PGP key so that the wrong person won’t inadvertently read it. Finally, proceed to completing your order on the following page.
One major difference on HYDRA, compared to other markets, is that before your actual order commences, you still have to wait for the vendor to get in touch with you. The previous steps are used to communicate to the vendor that you intend to buy from them; on the site, this is referred to as a “reservation.” To have your order approved, you still have to await the vendor’s confirmation, after which you will be able to pay for the item.
Once the vendor replies to your reservation and confirms it, then you can proceed to pay for your order. While this may take longer than the process on other markets, it is a useful security feature and can help prevent scams.
How to Pay for Orders on HYDRA
If you want to pay for your purchases, you will need to deposit either bitcoins or bitRUBLE (through QIWI) into your wallet. Bitcoin and bitRUBLE are the only accepted cryptocurrencies on the site at this time.
To access your wallet on the site, click on the link next to your login name that tells you how many BTC or bitRUBLE you have. You will then be taken to the page above, where you will see a BTC deposit address (the blurred field) to which you can transfer coins to use on the site. Your transaction must receive two confirmations before it will be reflected in your account balance, however.
If you still have bitcoins remaining in your HYDRA account, or if you decide to cancel a purchase but still have coins in your account, you can withdraw them using the Withdraw link. It is good practice not to leave bitcoins (or bitRUBLE, for that matter) in your account, in case of theft or loss. Many of the users on markets that have been shut down recently (like AlphaBay) lost enormous amounts of bitcoin in the process.
Other than this, HYDRA itself has much more detailed guides as to how to use your wallet and pay for purchases, located on the footer of the site.
HYDRA Market Support
If you need help with the site or have any other questions, use the market’s support link, located in the lower left-hand corner of the page, which looks like this:
You will then be taken to a contact form through which you can detail any problems or inquiries you might have. Most importantly, HYDRA staff will assist you if you have issues regarding a transaction (such as goods not being delivered). If this is the case, however, you should do so within 24 hours or less.
Pros and Cons
- Simple and effective design
- Offers several good security features (transaction confirmation, 2FA)
- Helpful guides for both customers and vendors
- Russian language only (may be confusing to non-speakers)
- Offers some digital goods, but mostly drugs
- No requirement for multisig payments or escrow system