Alphabay is one of the oldest darknet market sites that still exist today. It was launched in 2014 and quickly proved to be the fastest-growing darknet market site on the internet: Within just 90 days of operation, it attracted 14.000 customers. The Digital Citizens Alliance concluded that Alphabay has become the largest darknet market site on the Internet. The site discontinued operation in 2017 after the original domain was shut down but was then relaunched with a different .onion address.
Alphabay has hit the news several times for prolific sales: In 2015, the news magazine Vice reported that a trove of Uber customer accounts was for sale on Alpha Bay - for just $1 each.
The same year in October, the London-based telecommunications company TalkTalk sustained a major hack. And again the data was put up for sale on Alphabay.
But other than that, Alphabay is very similar to other darknet markets in that it offers the same features: The market is divided into different sub-categories for easy navigation. Most categories revolve around drugs and substances of all kinds but you can also find digital products as well as credit card information (CC dumps) and SSN (social security numbers).
Like most other markets, Alphabay provides an escrow system so that buyers can purchase their products relatively risk-free: Should the vendor not deliver the purchased product, the money withheld in the escrow account will be refunded to the buyer.
Trusted vendors can apply for “Finalize Early” status which allows them to bypass the escrow system. However, to become a trusted vendor you must have proven to not scam your customers, having at least 200 successful sales and no negative feedback.
While new vendors with low reputation should always be approached carefully (i.e. ordering small amounts at first) they sometimes do offer the best option when you are looking for the cheapest possible deal: Obviously, if an offer is outrageously cheap, alarm bells should go off but it is not uncommon for new vendors to undercut the bigger ones so they can build their reputation.
Like with all darknet market sites the standard security recommendations apply. First and foremost, stay anonymous. Use the TOR browser only and don't use the TOR browser for any regular (non-darknet) browsing. Ideally, you have a dedicated system or at least a dedicated VM for all your darknet activities. Keep your darknet PGP keys and other credentials limited to that system only, do not mix it with any activities that would expose your identity.
Treat your dedicated system like a work-system: Only install the software necessary for your operations do not install anything for entertainment or other purposes. Subsequently, resist the urge to browse Twitter, Reddit or any other social media sites while you have downtime. For this always use your regular system.
Never communicate with vendors or buyers outside of Alphabay or you lose the security of the escrow system and dispute policy. Make sure that you encrypt all your communication, no matter how trivial it is. Not only decreases this your overall risk but also helps to establish a habit of it.
For additional system security, we recommend you run a secure operating system like Tails or https://www.whonix.org/ on your dedicated system for darknet activities. We also recommend using a VPN as an additional security measure since TOR will only anonymize your browsing sessions but not other traffic.
Especially when using any public WiFi hotspots you should always use a VPN when accessing the Internet since you don't know whether the access point is compromised. A VPN ensures that all of your traffic, no matter what application, will always be strongly encrypted when passing the access point, this protecting yourself not only from eavesdropping but also possible identity theft.
Alphabay is a great market site for browsing around and finding products you may not find otherwise. The operators are veterans in the scene and have experience running a service like this. If you want to find the cheapest possible deal on the darknet, you should definitely add Alphabay to your list of sites to check as they often have the best offers available.