Aurora is a smaller next-generation darknet market that features an easy-to-use interface, a wallet-less payment system and accepts Monero (XMR) in addition to Bitcoin (BTC). It claims to have been “coded from scratch” and takes on a persona a bit different from other markets. For one, the user interface is quite simple and straightforward, and it doesn’t get much easier to create a PGP-secured darknet market account.
Aurora’s biggest drawback is their limited product selection, with less than 2,000 listings currently on the site. This goes along with being a new market, however, and the number will likely grow quickly over the next few months. The market has yet to truly prove itself as far as integrity or longevity is concerned, but they seem to be off to a good start and are probably worth checking out.
Quick Facts about Aurora Market
- Founded: 2020
- Link: aurora7t7en7racqbytspft6myxds25hnczjk56tvqev2bziir74t4yd.onion/
- Number of listings: 3,500
- Listing categories: Counterfeit, Digital Goods, Drugs, Fraud, Services, Other
- Coins accepted: Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR)
- Multisignature escrow: No
- Finalize Early (FE) Allowed: Yes
- Vendor bond: $400
Before Getting Started
There are a few technical subjects with which you must have at least a basic level of familiarity before attempting to connect to and use a darknet market. The first of these is a basic understanding of cryptocurrency — more specifically how to purchase, send and receive it.
The next is knowledge of basic online security practices; especially how they apply to cryptocurrency and anonymity. If you have ever considered using Monero (XMR), now is a great time to learn how to use it as XMR is increasingly common option among darknet markets due to its enhanced privacy features.
It’s also a good idea to learn about and practice good OPSEC to minimize the connection between your online activities (especially as they pertain to darknet markets) and your real-life identity. Examples of this would be never choosing a username that could be linked to your identity, never upload photos that can be traced back to their origins, and never sending cryptocurrency to a darknet market straight from an exchange.
You’ll also need to know how to use a Tor browser, which is required to access any sort of darknet market. Regardless of your intentions, it is important to not attract attention to yourself when visiting such markets. This is why it’s a good idea to learn the basics of how Tor works and brush up your internet privacy practices before getting started.
How to Register an Account
Creating an account at Aurora is quite simple and requires only that you enter a username and password — the trick is to make sure you are visiting the right website and not a phishing site. The account creation screen should look like this:
After you have created an account and safely stored your username and password, you will be directed to a page with a 24 word mnemonic. Save this mnemonic in a secure place as you will need it if you ever lose control of your account and need to reset its access. After saving the mnemonic, you will be prompted to re-enter it before proceeding.
After continuing, you will be brought to the Start section of the main market home page. Even though your account has now been created and you can start browsing the market, there are a few things that you’ll need to take care of before placing an order. First, click on the Account button in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Securing Your Account
Every time you log in to Aurora, you will be brought to the Start page, which prominently displays featured vendors and product listings; next to it is a side panel with navigation options. The Start page should look something like this:
You’ll notice a bunch of different navigation options on the left divided into Market and Account sections. The Market section includes Products, Search, News, and Toplist, which is a list of highest rated vendors of the last week, month and of all-time. The Account section contains screens related to security, account preference and keeping track of your orders.
Before attempting to place an order, the first thing you’ll want to do is select the “PGP / 2FA” menu under the Account section of the menu selections. This will bring up a screen with a text box in which you will paste your PGP public key. This is necessary in order to receive personally-directed, encrypted information from a vendor, buyer or the market itself. Paste the entirety of your PGP public key in the text box and check the box underneath it that says “I know what I am doing, 2FA enabled!” The screen should look something like this when correctly filled:
After continuing, you will receive a message encrypted by Aurora using your PGP public key. You will need to decrypt this message using your private key in order to see the message required to verify your posted key. The message should look something like this when unencrypted:
Oddly enough, you will need to perform one additional message verification after this step when turning on 2FA, which will require you to decrypt a message using your PGP private key each time you want to log on to the site. This will help you to keep your account secure and lessens the risk of being hacked tremendously. Once again, you’ll need the unencrypted code in order to make the change to add 2FA to your account. After pasting the code in the text box underneath the encrypted message, press “Save”. You will now need access to your PGP private key each time you want to log in to Aurora.
The next thing you’ll need to do is assign a refund address to your profile. This will help Aurora and vendors know where to send your coins in case a refund is warranted. You can do this by clicking the “Details” option under the Account section. From this screen you can set the currency to be displayed on listings, change your password, and of course enter refund addresses for BTC and XMR. If you only plan on using one coin, you only need to enter an address for that particular coin.
After entering your refund address(es), you will need to decrypt another PGP message from Aurora to finalize the changes. Paste the message in the “2FA token” field before pressing “Save”. You are now ready to start placing orders on the market.
Browsing Aurora Market
There are two Market menu options to locate products on Aurora: “Products” and “Search”. There aren’t a whole lot of product listings, and because Aurora operates on an international level, regional listings can be pretty scarce depending on what you’re looking for. For this reason we recommend using the “Products” screen and then narrowing down what you are looking for by subcategory.
Product Categories & Listings (total in parentheses):
- Counterfeit (142): Art, Electronics, Fake IDs, Jewelry, Money, Watches, Other
- Digital Goods (755): Data, Ebooks, Erotica, Information, Security & Anonymity, Software, Other
- Drugs (1776): Benzos, Cannabis, Dissociatives, Drug Precursors, Drug Testing, Ecstasy, Equipment, Opioids, Prescription Drugs, Psychedelics, Steroids, Tobacco, Weight Loss, Other
- Fraud (583): Bank Accounts, CVV & Cards, Data & Scans, Dumps, Guides & Tutorials, Hacking, ID Scans, Online Accounts, Personal Information, Software, Other
- Services (96): Carding, Fraud, Hacking, Social Media, Other
Clicking on a listing title will bring you to the page for that item. From here you can see pictures of the item, information about the vendor, escrow options, payment types accepted, and shipping information.
Unfortunately, Aurora doesn’t offer any sort of filtering options for their listing pages, but this isn’t much of a problem at the moment as the market is on the smaller side and it’s quite easy to scroll through entire categories of listings.
Aurora Market Vendors & Feedback System
On each product listing page, you can also see how many orders the vendor has processed previously, their average feedback score from previous buyers, and how many disputes they have won or lost. This information can help you get an idea of what kind of experience the vendor has and how competent they are at filling orders.
It is important to perform a thorough review of a vendor’s history and success rate before making a deal with them for the first time. Try to stick to vendors whose reviews are positive at least 9 out of 10 times. Be wary of vendors who have bad or no feedback and still insist on orders being placed using FE. In any darknet market, trust is everything, and it’s almost always the better idea to go with a trusted vendor than a new or un-trusted vendor, even if they are offering cheaper prices for the same items.
Placing an Order
After you find a product you like, enter the quantity you wish to purchase and click “Add to Cart”. You can continue to shop at the same vendor or even others and process all orders at the same check out time. When you are ready to check out, click on the shopping cart in the top bar where you will see an “Open Cart” button next to each vendor from which you have an item in your basket. Click on this button to get started placing the order. It will bring you to the order confirmation screen, which when filled correctly, will look like this:
Here you will choose your preferred methods for shipping, payment, and escrow. Some vendors offer limited options while others provide several. The two payment methods used by Aurora are BTC and XMR. As far as escrow is concerned, the default option is to send payment to an address controlled by Aurora, and after you have marked your product received, the funds are released to the vendor. The second escrow option is Finalize Early (FE) which releases payment to the vendor automatically, before the order has been received. Aurora says this option is reserved for more trusted vendors, but it seems like a lot of new vendors have this option available for their listings.
After reviewing your shipping options and address information, make sure you have checked the “Encrypt with vendors pgp key” box beneath the shipping address field before pressing “Confirm Order”. If you don’t check this box, your shipping name and address will be sent to the Aurora servers unencrypted, which is considered a bad security practice — so be sure to check the box.
After confirming your order, you will be brought to the payment screen. Here you will be presented with an amount of BTC/XMR to be paid and a special payment receipt address. You will have 60 minutes to send the amount of coins shown on the screen to address provided (there is also a QR code of the address that can be scanned by a mobile wallet).
When a payment has been detected by the coin network, your order will be marked as paid, and the vendor will be instructed to start preparing your order. The status of your order can be tracked from the “Dashboard” screen under the Account options.
The different order statuses used by Aurora include:
- Unpaid: The order has been placed but is currently unpaid.
- Confirming: The payment transaction has been detected by the network but not yet confirmed.
- Pending (paid): Payment has been confirmed on the blockchain and the vendor is preparing the order.
- Shipped: The vendor has shipped the order.
- Completed: The buyer has confirmed that the product was received and the transaction was successful.
- Rejected: The vendor has rejected the order, prompting a refund to the buyer.
- Disputed: The buyer has a problem with the order and filed a dispute.
If you have a non-FE order, it is important to remember to mark it as Finalized after you have received it and are satisfied with it. This releases your payment from the escrow to the vendor’s address. If your order is not received or you are unsatisfied with it, you have the option of filing a Dispute. This will give you a chance to explain your case and why you believe your funds should be returned to you. The vendor will also be given the chance to respond and propose some kind of resolution. If no resolution between buyer and vendor can be made, the market will make a decision of which party to return the funds to.
For inquiries about the market itself, Aurora does have a support ticket system that seems to be somewhat reliable, in that some users have reported having successful interactions with them and some have reported the support to be unhelpful or nonexistent.
Aurora takes their security seriously but does not offer any additional security measures to their users outside of PGP-activated 2-FA. The fact that buyers and vendors do not have funds stored in accounts on the website makes it less of a target to hackers, although markets with similar setups have pulled exit scams in the past. There’s not much to say about whether or not this market is in it for the long haul, or how long it will last — these things can only be determined by the market’s longevity, which is TBD at this young stage in its life.
Aurora is frequently the target of DDOS attacks and employs a unique captcha provider. Captchas must be solved if your account becomes inactive for more than 15 minutes at a time or if you are timed out and want to log back in. After you have enabled 2-FA (which is highly recommended), you will have to decrypt a message with your PGP key each time you log in, as well.
The website is up approximately 76% of the time. If the website is down, it is better to wait for it to come back up than hunt around for a mirror URL, as this activity is the #1 way that people get phished and their accounts hacked. If you do find an alternative link to Aurora, make sure that it is included in a messaged signed by Aurora’s official PGP (this can be found at the bottom of the website under a section titled “Integrity”). Add Aurora’s PGP to your PGP client so that you can verify later messages and find valid mirror links.
Aurora Market Link
Aurora has the making of a decent-to-good darknet market, happy to swoop up customers and vendors who were homeless after the fall of Empire Market in August 2020. As they are only 2-3 months old, their product listings are a bit on the light side and there are a few glitches. They are working hard to add new features all the time and their non-wallet payment approach lessens the chance of losing one’s funds, or the amount of funds lost in the case of an exit scam.
It is good to see that the market has employed a method to import vendor stats from other markets, as this has led to more established vendors joining Aurora’s ranks. Time will tell if they are the real deal, but for now they seem to have fairly positive reviews and customers are general happy with the level of service being delivered by the vendors and the market itself.