Home to illicit drug deals, cybercrime, and some of the most frightening interactions in the world, the dark web can be a daunting place. As our reliance on the internet continues to grow, dark web statistics show the landscape to be a significant threat for consumers and businesses alike.
The dark web is a place many people don’t fully understand, but most of us know the landscape as a dangerous place. Whether you call it the deep web or the dark web, this is a space you know you should avoid if you want to stay safe online.
This list of dark web statistics for 2022 offers an insight into just how threatening this environment can be, and what might be happening behind the curtains.
Dark Web Statistics
1. The dark web market brought in $2.1 billion in cryptocurrency in 2021
According to a report by Chainalysis on the rapidly increasing rate of cryptocurrency crime, Darknet or dark web markets set a new record for revenue in 2020. The ecosystem was responsible for $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency transactions (mostly Bitcoin) in 2020.
By 2021, the number of cryptocurrency transactions increased to around $2.1 billion. According to the report, around $300 million from the transactions was generated by fraud shops – groups responsible for brokering the sale of various stolen logins, credit cards, and exploitation kits.
According to the report, a market serving Russian-speaking countries (Hydra) is the most significant for crypto so far, responsible for around 80% of the darknet market revenue globally.
2. Stolen credit card data sells for just $25 on the dark web
(The Dark Web Price Index)
Designed to track the average price of private data in the dark web marketplace, the Dark Web Price Index reveals some worrying insights into the landscape. This Index, updated most recently at the end of 2021, reveals a cloned credit card with a PIN number would only cost around $25 on the dark web.
Many purchases are actually much cheaper than most people would think. You can buy credit card details with an account balance of up to $1,000 for only $150, or access stolen PayPal account details with a minimum of $100 in credit for $30.
According to the Dark Web Price Index, there has been a notable increase in the supply of basic credit card data on the dark web, which is part of the reason why the prices for such information are so low at this time.
3. Around 543 million assets tied to Fortune 1000 employees are available on the dark web
The SpyCloud Breach Exposure report into Fortune 1000 companies found the number of Fortune 1000 companies with exposed assets on the dark web is increasing. In 2021, the volume of breached assets on the dark web from Fortune 1000 companies had increased by 29% from 2020.
In total, the SpyCloud team found 543 million assets linked to employees, and around 26 million plaintext passwords belonging to staff members. This adds up to around 25,927 exposed passwords per company – an increase of 12% from 2020.
When assessing the data breaches, SpyCloud also revealed 76.7% of Fortune 1000 employees were also re-using passwords across multiple tools. This means a single password could have offered a dark web buyer access to multiple accounts.
4. The Silk Road 2.0 takedown revealed sales of over 9.5 million in Bitcoin
(FBI Silk Road Investigation)
The growth of illegal transactions on the web has spurred various governments to take additional steps in the fight against such activity. The FBI took down the Silk Road 2.0 website in 2015 and revealed over 2 and a half years, the site had already been used by several thousand criminals.
The website had sold hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods to more than 100,000 buyers. Overall, Silk Road was found to have generated sales of more than 9.5 million in Bitcoin, which was valued at around $1.2 billion at the time.
5. Dark web market spending hit new records in 2020
According to a report from Secure World, spending on the dark net hauled in record revenue during 2020, which may have had something to do with the impact of the pandemic on people’s finances, and state of mind. The research shows 2020 was the first year for dark net activity to go over $1.5 billion.
One potential cause of the rapid increase in Dark web marketplace spending, according to the report, is the rising popularity of a specific market named Hydra. Currently, Hydra is the largest darknet market in the world, responsible for around 75% of the total darknet market revenue in 2020, even though it only serves Russian speakers.
6. 80% of consumers have had their emails leaked on the dark web
In a study exploring the security and vulnerability of digital identities in recent years, LookOut found that the number of data breaches which occurred in 2021 had already surpassed the number in 2020 by the month of October. More than 281.5 million customers were affected within the first 10 months of the year.
The study also found around 80% of all consumers have had email information leaked on the dark web. However, email addresses aren’t the only pieces of information at risk. Around 70% of consumers have had their phone numbers compromised, and 10% have had driver’s license information leaked. 7% of respondents said they have had their social security numbers leaked online.
Lookout believes part of the reasoning behind this issue is the number of people using poor quality passwords. Around 60% of people re-use passwords across multiple accounts.
7. The number of data compromises in 2022 has increased by 68%
(Identity Theft Resource Center)
A study released by the Identity Theft Resource Center in 2022 found the number of data leaks and cybercrimes typically associated with actions on the dark web is increasing. The 2021 annual data breach report showed the number of data compromises has increased by over 68% compared to the prior year.
The new record number of data compromises is around 23% higher than the previous all-time high which was first set in 2017. Notably, the review also found the number of data events involving sensitive information like social security numbers has increased by 3%.
The number of victims impacted by data breaches in this report actually increased by 5% compared to the previous year, indicating criminals are focusing on specific data types over mass data acquisition (as in previous years).
(Identity Theft Resource Center)
According to the 2021 Annual Data Breach report from ITRC, ransomware-related data breaches have doubled in each of the last two years. According to the team behind this report, the current rate of ransomware attacks indicates this strategy will surpass phishing as the number one root cause of data compromises in 2022.
These findings suggest many of the data points available to purchase in the dark web might come from ransomware focused attacks. The study also revealed data compromises increased in every primary sector in the report, but one (the military). However, the manufacturing and utilities sector saw the largest increase (217%) over 2020.
9. The average person has more than 100 passwords
(Nordpass and Tech Co)
Passwords are one of the most common products sold on the dark web, according to information from the Dark Web Price Index. The latest data revealed by Nordpass and Tech co indicates criminals have a lot of options to choose from, as the average person has around 100 passwords to remember.
According to the research, the number of passwords we have on average has increased by around 25% between the years of 2019 and 2020, as the number of tech tools we use each day continues to accelerate. Unfortunately, many users are now using the same password for multiple accounts, because it’s impossible to remember so many.
Around 31.1% of internet users will only create new passwords once or twice a year, and 53% of respondents say they rely entirely on their own memory to keep track of passwords.
10. $1,010 could be enough to buy a person’s identity
The Privacy Affairs Dark Web Price Index offers a harrowing insight into the price of various points of personal data online. According to the index, a criminal could potentially buy enough personal data to claim someone’s identity for a little over $1,000.
Interestingly, the price of stealing someone’s identity can differ depending on where you are in the world. US credit card details are valued at significantly less (around $17 on average) than other nations, thanks to a higher amount of supply.
After purchasing stolen data, people can also use the dark web to purchase credentials and documentation to match.
11. Russia is the biggest market for dark web or dark net spending
A report by Chainalysis into the spending habits of users in darknet markets found the most significant geographical market for darknet spending in 2020 was Russia. Russia was responsible for around $169 million sent to darknet markets and $119 million received from darknet markets in 2020.
According to Chainalysis, the reason behind Russia’s growth in the darknet landscape is the popularity of the site “Hydra” which caters only to Russian speakers.
Second to Russia for dark web spending was the United States, with around $115 million in cryptocurrency sent to darknet vendors, followed by the Ukraine, with around $47 million sent to dark net markets in 2020.
12. 123456 is the most common password leaked online
CNBC shared a report in early 2022 highlighting increasing concerns about the security of passwords and usernames in a world where ethe dark web is becoming more prominent. As the number of data breaches continues to increase worldwide, the news company revealed 20 of the top passwords commonly found on the dark web.
These passwords, often discovered in data breaches, usually included simple and easy-to-remember options. The most common password leaked online was 123456, followed by 123456789 and “Qwerty”. “Password” is another of the most popular passwords.
13. There are more than 4 million card details available on the dark web
Research conducted by VPN company, NordVPN, found there are around 4 million credit and debit card details now available on the dark web. With help from independent researchers, NordVPN found an average hacked payment card’s data costs less than $10, and that Visa cards are the most common, followed by Mastercard and American Express.
Debit card details appear to be easier to find on the dark web than credit cards. The independent researchers found around 1,561,739 sets of card details available for sale from the US. Approximately 134,607 card details came from Britain.
Interestingly, while the US had a huge share of card details available online, Turkey had a higher portion of non-refundable cards on the dark web.
14. Dark web activity spiked by 300% between 2017 and 2020
According to report by Crystal Blockchain, the activity in the dark web has increased by around 300% between the years of 2017 and 2020. What’s more, the value of all the BTC transferred on the dark web has increased by 65% between the years of 2019 and 2020.
In the first quarter of 2019, dark net vendors earned a total of $240 million in bitcoin, an increase from $87 million in 2017. By 2020, this number increased to $384 million.
Though Bitcoin has lost some of its share to alternative cryptocurrencies in recent years, it remains to be the dominant currency on the dark web.
15. India has the most access to the dark web
Accessing the dark web requires specific technologies, like browsers which can navigate a certain part of the internet securely. According to Statista, there are technologies available all over the world allowing for access to the dark web. However, India has the highest access of all countries.
As of 2019, around 26% of all respondents from India say they use darknet technologies. Alternatively, the number of people admitting to having access to such tools in the US is only 10%.
16. 90% of posts on dark web forums are from buyers looking to contact a criminal
A report by Positive Technologies Security found in around 90% of cases, users on darknet forums are searching for criminals or hackers who can provide them with access to a particular resource or database. 7% of messages recorded were offers to hack websites directly.
PT Security found around 7 out of 10 inquiries related to website hacking cited the main goal as gaining access to a specific web resource.
This study also noted there has been a significant surge of interest in website hacking since March 2020, which may have been caused by an increasing number of companies available through the internet, triggered by the pandemic.
17. A third of North Americans use the dark web regularly
A report released by Precise Security in 2020 found North America to be the most active region on the darknet at present. More than 30% of North Americans say they have used the dark web regularly during 2019, and the number continues to accelerate.
The statistics from this study said 26% of North Americans admit to using the dark web on a daily basis, while another 7% say they use the environment at least once a week. Latin Americans were the second most likely to use the darknet on the list, with 21% saying they visit the dark web every day. Around 13% of Latin Americans use the dark web weekly.
Europe is also increasing its usage of the dark web, with 17% of citizens utilizing the ecosystem every day. Another 11% of Europeans use the dark web once per week.
18. The Dark web only accounts for about 5% of the internet
The dark web seems like a huge and dangerous place, but it may be smaller than we think. According to the CSO, the dark web likely only accounts for around 5% of the internet. The dark web is also only a small segment of the deep web, and many people believe a significant portion of websites on the deep web are legitimate.
The research from CSO builds on a number of other studies. However, it’s important to note that no one knows for certain how big the dark web really is.
19. The number of dark web listings which could harm an enterprise is increasing
(University of Surrey)
According to a study conducted by the University of Surrey and Dr. Michael McGuires, the number of dark web issues which could harm businesses is on the rise. The report from 2019 found the number of dark web listings detrimental to enterprises has increased by 20%.
Of all listings on the dark web today, excluding those selling drugs, 60% have the potential to harm enterprises, either by releasing important information about the company or by hacking into details of the customers associated with the business.
20. 45% of bitcoin sent to the darknet comes from a KYC-free exchange
A report conducted by Bitfury and Crystal Blockchain into the use of cryptocurrencies on the dark web indicates the number of exchanges is increasing.
Interestingly, the report suggests the majority of users are sending bitcoin directly from an exchange with no KYC demands during checkout. 45% of bitcoin sent into the dark web has come from a KYC-free exchange account. This is a reduction of 30% from 2017.
Crystal Blockchain also notes funds moving between different markets are also on the rise, indicating darknet users might be trying to hide their bitcoin within the darknet. In total, the value of bitcoin sent and received from KYC exchanges also more than doubled between 2019 and 2020 from $36 million to $73 million.
21. The most popular marketplaces on dark web sell drugs and fraudulent assets
A Chainalysis 2021 overview of spending in dark web and dark net markets found stores responsible for selling illegal drugs and those responsible for selling fraudulent assets were most popular.
The most popular marketplace of all (outside of the Hydra marketplace for Russian speakers) was the FEShop, best-known for selling drugs, followed by the Empire Market, and the UNICC marketplace, known for selling fraudulent assets like credit card information and personality-identifying information.
22. 40% of survey respondents said they use the dark web to remain anonymous
The report from Precise Security in 2019 and updated in 2020 on the usage of the dark web indicates around 40% of respondents use the deep net to stay anonymous.
Another 26% of respondents said they’ve used this environment to retrieve information and content unavailable in their region. This excuse is more common in Middle Eastern, African, and BRICS countries. Other reasons given involved avoiding governmental censorship.
Around 25% of North Americans said they used the hidden web in 2019 to protect themselves against foreign government, while 38% wanted to protect themselves against internet companies spying on their data. In the report, 50% of the respondents said the reason they don’t use technologies to access the dark web is that they don’t know how to.
23. Approximately 22 billion records were leaked on the dark web in 2020
The dark web represents a rising threat for businesses and individuals alike, as new leaks continue to happen on a regular basis. Experts estimate hackers dropped more than 22 billion records into the Dark Web for purchase in 2020. This number continued to increase in 2021.
The largest example of a single data leak on the dark web is known as the “RockYou2021” document, posted by an anonymous user on a popular hacker forum. This 100GB text file is estimated to contain a total of 8.4 billion passwords, collected from various forms of cyber-attack.
24. 60 of the biggest websites on the dark web are over 750 TB in size
According to insights from the Cobwebs security company, scanning for data breaches in the dark web would take a significant amount of time without access to automation and AI tools. Currently, 60 of the biggest websites available on the dark web are potentially over 750 TB in size.
The amount of information stored on these websites, such as huge caches full of passwords and information, meaning they’re often extremely large and even quite slow to load.
25. The US is Responsible for 60% of weapons sold on the dark web
A study conducted by the RAND Europe non-profit organization into the illicit trade of firearms on the dark web found Europe is the source of around 25% of weapons sales on the dark web, while the US is responsible for around 60% of weapons sold.
While the US seems to sell a lot more firearms than the EU, the sale of firearms to European customers generates revenues up to five times higher than those sold to US customers. This could be because firearms are more generally available within the United States.
The report also found though only around 1% of the listings on the dark web are for firearms, the most commonly listed gun is the “pistol”, which appears in 84% of category listings.
26. The technology industry has the highest number of exposed credentials on dark markets
Research into the exposed assets of Fortune 1000 companies on the dark web by SpyCloud revealed the majority of companies need to work harder to protect credentials. However, the technology industry had the most exposed credentials in 2021, with around 6.7 million in total.
The technology sector also had the largest number of potentially infected employees in their team (13,897) – meaning staff members whose credentials were captured for the dark web using malware. Technology companies were also the most likely to have infected customers, with around 11 million clients of Fortune 1000 brands whose info was captured for the dark web.
Telecommunications companies were the second most likely to have breached information, with around 6 million exposed credentials in total.
27. The sale of illicit substances (drugs) makes up around 8.1% of the activity on the dark web marketplaces
According to findings by Vice, the sale of illegal drugs and illicit substances is one of the most common activities taking place on the dark web. Originally, the marketplace most popular for selling drugs was the “Silk Road” website, which was closed in 2013.
Unfortunately, though the FBI raided the Silk Road website, this didn’t stop the sale of drugs from continuing on the dark web, making up about 8.1% of illicit activity in the landscape. A number of other marketplaces are well-known for the sale of drugs including Empire and Nightmare.
28. Phishing is one of the most common ways to collect financial data for the dark web
According to an Equifax study into the illegal sale of financial information on the dark web, financial fraud is one of the most common activities for cybercriminals.
Phishing was one of the most common methods identified by Equifax as a tool for collecting financial information on the dark web. This is a methodology that involves an attacker gathering someone’s card details by asking them to provide information as part of an unsolicited email.
Other methods of collecting financial data included the use of malware and skimming.
29. Activities in the “unknown” or “non-illicit” category of the dark web account for around 22.6% of total activity
(Daniel Moore & Thomas Rid)
Most people automatically think of criminal activity when imagining what might go on within the dark web. However, a report published by T and F Online suggests there’s more to darknet activities than we’d think.
According to this report, activities within the “non-illicit” category make up around 22.6% of activity in total. These activities might include the use of things like secure drop sites, websites relating to ideologies and politics, or repositories of information.
Some of these sites can even be legitimate, indicating that not all dark web sites are necessarily dangerous.
30. The demand for malware outpaces supply by 3 times
Research conducted by the Positive Technologies brand suggests cybercrime markets are thriving at an incredible rate.
In this report, researchers looked at over 10,000 malware-related and hack-for-hire posts on 25 dark web market sites in total. This led to an insight into the activities of more than three million users. The analysis found demand for criminal malware products outstrips supply by around 3 times, highlighting a wider demand for criminal activities.
According to Positive Technologies, one reason for the increase in demand could be the rising affordability of malware and criminal activities. It only costs around £120 GBP to purchase a professional to compromise a site and gain full control over a web application.
Targeted attacks on specific websites can cost over £3000, however, depending on how difficult it is to gain access to certain pieces of technology.
31. There may be around 50,000 extremist groups on the dark web
A report by the Wilson Center into the dangers of terrorist activities on the dark web suggests that there could be around 50,000 extremist groups in this part of the internet. The Wilson Center notes terrorists often use the darknet to hide and even to recruit other people to their cause.
Most commonly, terrorists also use a number of virtual currencies to help pay for various attacks and criminal initiatives, as this helps to keep the activities of various groups as hidden as possible.
32. About 70.6% of Tor and onion services users are male
A report into how Tor users interact with onion services (anonymous dark web browsing) by Arxiv in 2018 highlighted some interesting insights into the demographics of potential darknet users. According to the study, only around 29.4% of females use Tor, while the rest of the users identify as male (70.6%).
The study also found most users of anonymous browsing tools are young – usually between the ages of 18 and 25 (35.9%). Around 34.8% of anonymous browser users are between the ages of 26 and 35. Only around 16.8% of users between the ages of 36 and 45 admit to using onion services for browsing the dark web.
We hope this blog post has been informative and has challenged you to think about the way you use the internet or at least reminded you why it’s a good idea to keep your passwords secure and make sure your firewall is always on.
The Dark Web is a fascinating place, but it’s one that requires a great deal of caution. Make sure you are taking precautions to keep yourself safe online, and always be aware of what kind of information you’re sharing.
If you have any questions about what we’ve covered in this list, or you want to share something cool that we missed, hit reply send us an email—we’d love to hear from you!
Until next time, stay safe out there!
- The Dark Web Price Index
- FBI Silk Road Investigation
- Secure World
- Identity Theft Resource Center
- Identity Theft Resource Center
- Nordpass and Tech Co
- Privacy Affairs
- Crystal Blockchain
- PT Security
- Precise Security
- University of Surrey
- Crystal Blockchain
- Precise Security
- Daniel Moore & Thomas Rid
- Positive Technologies
- Wilson Center