In this guide we explain everything you need to know to get connected to Cypher Market on the darknet.
Founded in February 2020, Cypher Market is a wallet-less escrow darknet market that supports both Bitcoin and Monero. The market does not have on-site wallets where funds are centrally stored, but rather single-use addresses for each order, and funds for completed orders always go directly to the vendor’s payout address. This mitigates the potential for an attack or exit scam to a certain degree in that there is never a single, big pool of user funds which can be stolen or confiscated.
Unfortunately, even after two years of operation, Cypher Market hasn’t really attracted a lot of top-tier vendors, yet there are some dispersed across major geo-markets around the globe. For whatever reason, many vendors have yet to achieve a single sale, which makes the market look either non-trafficked or populated with green vendors. Missing are the usual filters that allow you to narrow down listings, but because Cypher is somewhat light on listings, browsing thru categories isn’t much of a chore.
Cypher Market is very lax in its rules, only banning sales of the usually-prohibited items, and we do appreciate their decision to ban the catch-all “anything that is harmful to human beings.” Per the Cypher admin’s comments on the Dread darknet forum, “We started our own market after seeing everyone getting fucked so many times by what seems to be the same group of people with the same M.O. Get big quick and exit when it gets too big.” This suggests that the market is run by independently-minded individuals and they appear to be competent enough to attract some big-name vendors from around the globe.
Despite its rather clunky and bare bones design, Cypher Market does sport some innovative features that set it apart from other darknet markets. For one, the market’s Top Vendors are displayed on the main page, beneath a series of Featured Listings. Running parallel to the Top Vendors is a list of “Latest Orders” which allow you to see the market’s currently most popular listings. We also like that it features a ‘Dark Mode’ setting for those who want an interface that is a little easier on the eyes.
In all, Cypher gets the job done, though it’s not as easy to navigate or as pretty to look at as some of its competitors. When selection of markets is thin, however, they may seem like a reasonable alternative for those looking to do some shopping but without their regular place to do it. We recommend sticking with only experienced vendors on this market, who are names that you may recognize from elsewhere. This bit of advice – along with employing good OpSec and always encrypting your own info – are steps you can take to maximize your chances of success when placing an order on Cypher Market.
Basic Facts about Cypher Market
- Year founded: 2020
- Cypher Market Link – http://6c5qaeiibh6ggmobsrv6vuilgb5uzjejpt2n3inoz2kv2sgzocymdvyd.onion
- Cryptocurrencies accepted: Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR)
- Total Product/Service listings: 4,000
- Listing Categories: Guides & Tutorials, Other Listings, Counterfeits, Hosting & Security, Software & Malware, Drugs
- Multi-signature escrow? No
- Finalize Early? Yes (given to vendors with over 250 completed sales)
- Cost of vendor bond: $250 (waived for established vendors)
Before Getting Started
Before attempting to use Cypher Market or any other darknet market, there are some concepts you should first be familiar with:
- Cryptocurrency transacting. You must know how to send and receive cryptocurrencies to use Cypher; principally Bitcoin and Monero. We recommend always using Monero when possible as the obfuscated nature of its blockchain makes transactions much harder to trace.
- PGP encryption. You must know how to encrypt and decrypt messages using PGP. Though Cypher Market says they will auto-encrypt the buyer’s shipping information if the buyer forgets to do it themselves, transmitting sensitive information that is unencrypted is always a big OpSec no-no. Be sure to learn how to do this for yourself as it is considered a must-do for any darknet market user.
- The Tor browser. You must have the Tor browser installed in order to connect to sites that end in “.onion”, which is everything considered to be on the “dark web”. You should also know how to use Tor in such a way that your privacy is best maintained. This includes never running Tor over a VPN, and always updating the browser to the latest version.
Disclaimer: This guide is for research purposes only and should not be construed to be advice; legal or otherwise. The authors of this guide do not condone activities that are illegal in your jurisdiction or others. Use the contents of this guide and/or Cypher Market at your own risk.
Don’t Get Phished
Though Cypher Market is somewhat on the smaller side, it is still the subject of impersonation attempts, aka phishers hoping you will log into their fake site with your real credentials. Making deposits on these scam sites is the #1 way most people lose money while trying to place an order on a darknet market. To mitigate this risk, you should only use a verified URL, and never get URLs from random places on the clear web (such as Reddit, Twitter, etc.).
For reference, this is a screenshot from the Cypher Market itself, which should look the same every time you attempt to log in:
Creating an Account
Registering an account on Cypher is a bit different from other darknet markets in that it is very, very simple. You must first locate the “Sign Up” button in the upper-right corner of the screen. If you can’t see it, you’ll need to click on the box with the lines of it and then select “Sign Up”. Once you reach the account creation screen, however, the process is extremely simple in that it only requires the entry of a username and password (twice).
Enter a unique username not associated with any accounts generated elsewhere and a strong password (at least 8 characters long, consisting of letters, numbers, and special symbols). Then enter the captcha and press “Sign Up”. On the next screen you will be presented with a 24-word mnemonic.
This mnemonic serves as a kind of username/password combo that can allow you to regain access to your account should you somehow get locked out of it. After you have copied it and saved it to a safe and secure place, press “Proceed to Sign In”. You will now be redirected to the sign-in screen, where you will enter your newly-created username and password to log in to the site. And that’s it! You are now free to being browsing Cypher Market.
Setting a Refund / Payout Address
After creating your account and logging in for the first time, you’ll notice that you are first transported to the Settings screen. This is because the market wants you to first configure a Refund and/or Payout address before placing an order. To do this, first switch the Settings tab from Change Password (set by default) to Refund/Payout Address. Because we recommend always using Monero (XMR) when possible, we will be configuring this account for XMR purchases.
Paste your XMR address in the provided field, and then press “Change/add address”. You will then be greeted with a message that says “You have successfully changed your address!” If you place an order, pay for it, and the order is cancelled, not received, or not to your satisfaction, the refund for your order payment will go to this address.
Setting a PGP Key
This is the next step you must take before attempting to place an order as it will allow the vendors and/or other market members to communicate sensitive information with you. To do this, select the PGP Key menu option in the left column of the Settings page.
Next, copy and paste your PGP public key into the New PGP Key text box. It should look something like this when correctly entered:
Next, press “Add PGP” to continue. You will then be asked to confirm ownership of your PGP key by decrypting a message that has been encrypted with it. Copy the entire contents of the message text box and decrypt them with your PGP utility (such as Kleopatra, GPG, etc.). Then paste the Validation Number portion only into the corresponding text box.
After you have pasted the number, click “Validate PGP” to confirm. You will be returned to the PGP settings screen, except this time there will be a PGP key displayed in the Your PGP Key field. You are now ready to begin placing orders.
While not required, you may also want to configure your account with 2-FA. Enabling this option, which is also found in the Settings area, will require that you decrypt a message encrypted with your PGP public key each time you log on to the market. This is a good idea if you want to be extra sure nobody but you can access your account.
Making a Deposit
Cypher Market does not use the traditional, central wallet system used by most other markets. As such, there is no need to make an initial deposit before placing an order. Rather than depositing funds into a market account balance, buyers send funds to a designated address to cover the cost of one order at a time. After the buyer has finalized the order, funds are then released by the market to the vendor.
Browsing Cypher Market
With slightly over 4,000 listings at present, Cypher is a mid-sized darknet market that appears to have been coded from scratch. One thing any new Cypher user will notice right away is that the market is not pretty, nor is it easy to navigate. Despite its aesthetic shortcomings, it still works and gets the job done if you know how to use it correctly.
Listings are divided into the following categories (and subcategories):
- Guides & Tutorials (Fraud, Hacking, Carding)
- Other Listings
- Counterfeits (Clothing, Money, IDs)
- Hosting & Security (Socks & Proxies, Hosting & Domains, VPN)
- Software & Malware (Software, License Keys, Exploit Kits, Botnets & Malware, Rats & Trojans, Digital Goods)
- Drugs (Dissociatives, Ecstasy, Tobacco, Prescriptions, Benzodiazepines, Cannabis & Hashish, Stimulants, Opiates, Steroids, Psychedelics)
As with most darknet markets, the most popular category on Cypher is Drugs, which contains over half the market’s listings at any given time. Clicking on a listings category will reveal a grid view of items by default, which can also be changed into a list view if you want to see more details of each listing.
From the basic grid view, we see the name of the product, the price, the vendor name, and the vendor’s level (higher level = more experienced vendor). Hovering over the product name reveals the full name of the product and clicking on it brings up more information about it.
Here we can see:
- a bigger photo of the product,
- the product’s full title,
- the product quality rating left by buyers,
- the product type (physical or digital),
- variable quantity and pricing info,
- coins accepted,
- quantity in stock / sold, and
- delivery methods.
In the right column you can see some basic statistics about the vendor, including their vendor level (experience level), breakdown of customer feedback (Positive, Neutral, Negative), and buttons to either send the vendor a message or check out their full line of listings. Clicking on the vendor name will take you to their page on the market.
Here we can see advanced info about the vendor, including FE status, Trusted status (given to a vendor after completion of enough successful orders), and feedback ratings for quality, communication, and shipping. Beneath this is an area where the vendor can leave information for their buyers, and a PGP tab for easy access to the vendor’s PGP public key (you will want to copy and paste this key into your PGP utility if you plan on placing an order from them). Beneath this, all the vendor’s current listings are displayed for easy browsing.
Placing an Order
After you’ve found an item you wish to purchase, press the “Buy Now” button from the category page. Next, select what shipping option you prefer, your method of payment (BTC or XMR), and quantity (Amount). Then press the “Add to Cart” button (from the item page) to begin the order placement process. You will then be brought to your Cart screen.
Note that while the Address text box says that the market will encrypt your shipping information for you, you should definitely still do this part yourself. As mentioned earlier, the PGP key for the vendor can be found on their vendor page, toward the bottom, in a separate tab labeled “PGP”. Pasting the encrypted shipping information will look something like this:
Next, press “Save” to attach the encrypted address to the order. The screen will refresh. If you are happy with the amount to be paid and everything else, press the “Checkout” button to continue. You will be brought to one order confirmation screen. Press “Purchase” to proceed. You will then be brought to the Purchases screen, which looks something like this:
Click on your order title (under Product) to begin the payment process. This will bring up the screen for your particular purchase, complete with a Purchase ID and price total. Scroll down until you see the Payment information. The market will remind you to verify that you are on a legitimate URL. Beneath that, it will present to you the amount to be paid in your selected cryptocurrency.
Here we can see the amount to be paid (0.35846587 XMR) as well as the address to which you will send the payment (begins with 4Kk…). You can also scan the presented QR code if you plan on making a payment from a mobile device. You will have 24 hours to complete payment before the order is cancelled. Orders are confirmed after 2 confirmations by the blockchain.
As mentioned earlier, payments are made by the order, meaning you only need to send enough funds to cover one order at a time. This type of “wallet-less escrow” system has its advantages, but it is unfortunately the only escrowed payment option available. The other option, which is afforded only to vendors with a good amount of experience of Cypher, is FE. In FE orders, the funds are released straight to the vendor after the buyer has marked it as completed.
Notice how beneath the payment QR code there is a series of order-specific States:
After payment for the item has been made, the vendor will be informed of your order and will begin preparing it. For FE orders (such as the one in this example), funds must be released to the vendor as soon as this status is updated to Sent. For all other orders, payment should be made after it has been delivered.
If you do not receive your order, or it isn’t what you were expecting, you can open a dispute from the Purchases page. This will require you to tell the dispute moderator what happened. They will then ask the vendor for their side of the story and take into consideration both sides before deciding upon an outcome. Of course, we recommend trying to avoid disputes at all costs, which can be done by sticking with reputable (trusted) vendors that have a fair-to-large degree of experience. This means vendors of Level 3 or higher as rated by Cypher Market.
If you are happy with your order, be sure to mark it as received so funds can be released to the vendor ASAP. This is considered proper darknet market etiquette, and not doing so may get you blacklisted from order placement by the same vendor in the future.
Cypher Market URL – http://6c5qaeiibh6ggmobsrv6vuilgb5uzjejpt2n3inoz2kv2sgzocymdvyd.onion/
Cypher Market is a lesser-known darknet market that has only recently gained some attention due to the closure of some prominent other markets during the first two months of 2022. While its interface leaves a lot to be desired, it provides all the essential features that anyone needs in order to make a secure darknet market purchase. This of course means doing everything on your end to protect yourself, such as encrypting all communication with PGP, and cutting any links between your real-world and online identities.
We appreciate that Cypher accepts XMR and employs the per-order (Direct Pay, or “wallet-less escrow”) system which helps decrease the risk of an exit scam (though still not removing it entirely). We also appreciate that they are approachable on the Dread darknet forum and seem willing to help out their users to make sure they have the best experience possible. With a relatively cheap vendor bond of $250, you’d think they’d have more participants, and perhaps now that some of the dominant markets of 2021 have now closed, they just might in the near future.