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Caption: Agora logo
Web Address(s):
Uptime: 83.48%
Listings: 18,100, 26.08%
Previously hacked: No
Owner: agora (forum name)
Launched: December 2013
Current Status: Temporarily offline[1]
(one vote)

Agora was a Tor hidden service that became the largest darknet market on the deep web.[2] The website launched in December 2013 and quickly became among the most widely used online black markets after the shut down of the original Silk Road market.[3] It has been recommended in some way by the same guys of Bitcoin Fog. Unlike other popular darknet markets, Agora's moderators are not given public profiles, with the forum administrator (agora) being the only account representing a voice for the site. It is unknown how many people are working behind the scenes on Agora.

This market has proven itself to be ultra reliable in more than one occasion and is considered a top rated and recommended marketplace. [4] However, due to the sites growing profile, the site itself is hampered by occasional unexplained downtime, as well as other issues.[5] Agora itself has attempted to explain the site's unreliability in regards to its competitors by claiming its primary goal is to stay hidden from LE agencies and secure from hackers, therefore we (agora) implement much more security measures than many others, which causes problems with availability. [6] Agora was one of the few to survive Operation Onymous in November 2014.[7]

Since the Evolution Marketplace disappeared along with all its users funds[8] , worth an estimated 40,000 Bitcoins (worth approximately 12 million USD at the time), Agora has been by far the largest illicit market on the darknet.

During April and early May of 2015, Agora suffered a series of problems with downtime and disabled withdrawal and deposits.[9] As of May 6th, 2015, all payment problems seem to have been resolved and the market appears to be operating again.[10]


Agora is considered one of the more secure darknet markets on the internet, with no reported successful hack attempts on the site, a considerable feat considering the multiple successful intrusions on competing sites, including Silk Road 2.0. The site has also eluded the reach of international law enforcement agencies, despite the demonstrated weaknesses related to the Tor protocol such as traffic confirmation attacks. Agora's admin addressed this:

"Our setup it not simply a regular web server with extra Tor daemon running on it. We had to implement other levels of protection on top of that, including proxy VPN connections, constant changing of servers, additional software which is not found on any normal web server which handles intrusion detection. History has shown that Tor, even though it might be a work of art, has flaws, potential vulnerabilities, and what is worse, open research problems (like traffic confirmation attacks), which is basically another term for known vulnerabilities which could realistically be implemented by a properly motivated attacker. For the level of security that we are aiming at, it is simply not enough to rely just on Tor for providing the anonymity and security.

Moreover, there is little public research about this topic. Try to find guides for setting up a local electronics webshop and you will find thousands. Have you seen a proper guide for setting up an anonymous market with original research into risk assessment etc.? We have for example found numerous problems with Tor software which haven’t been found in any of their docs, and that is still considering the fact that among the anonymity software we use, Tor is one of the best-documented ones.

This does not mean so much that it is impossible to make the market run more stable than we have done up until this point, it just means that we need additional time to make the proper research and setup the system in a way that is also stable. We feel that this is a much better approach than fix the availability first, and then figure out the way to make it secure, because by the time we would do that, it might be too late, and not too late in a way that we get a few users that go to other markets due to bugs, but in a way that we shall find ourselves in jail before that happens…"[11]

Pause in operations

In August 2015 Agora's admins released a PGP signed message announcing a pause of operations to protect the site against potential attacks that they believe might be used to deanonymize server locations:[12]

Recently research had come [sic] that shed some light on vulnerabilities in Tor Hidden Services protocol which could help to deanonymize server locations. Most of the new and previously known methods do require substantial resources to be executed, but the new research shows that the amount of resources could be much lower than expected, and in our case we do believe we have interested parties who possess such resources. We have a solution in the works which will require big changes into our software stack which we believe will mitigate such problems, but unfortunately it will take time to implement. Additionally, we have recently been discovering suspicious activity around our servers which led us to believe that some of the attacks described in the research could be going on and we decided to move servers once again, however this is only a temporary solution. At this point, while we don't have a solution ready it would be unsafe to keep our users using the service, since they would be in jeopardy. Thus, and to our great sadness we have to take the market offline for a while, until we can develop a better solution. This is the best course of action for everyone involved.[13]

External Links

See Also