Oh, the million-dollar (or million-bitcoin) question that scammers love to hear! To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the full answer. And this is a topic you could write a book (or probably even a dissertation) on.
It has earned a somewhat notorious reputation for being used in darknet markets and such, but it isn’t evil in and of itself. (I mean, cash is used to deal drugs on the street – does that mean cash is evil? I don’t think so.)
One of the reasons that it’s used in darknet markets, of course, is that the transactions take place quickly, and they’re also semi-anonymous (I say “semi” because they can be traced, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).
Nonetheless, for those who don’t understand bitcoin, I thought it would be worth it to start with an explanation.
If you’ve never worked with bitcoin before and want to earn some, the first step would be creating a bitcoin wallet.
There are many bitcoin wallets through which you can do this, but here are a few examples:
When you set up a bitcoin wallet, you are assigned a bitcoin address, which is an identifier of 26-35 alphanumeric characters, beginning with the number 1 or 3. At the present time, there are two address formats in use:
P2PKH (beginning with 1) – 1E5nSJbPN6FN6KLaoVtVcJnbDUtQpeTfC7
P2SH (beginning with 3) – 3J98t1WpEZ73CNmQviecrnyiWrnqRhWNLy
(Note: These are not my bitcoin addresses…really.)
The Chain…Will Keep Us Together!!
According to Bitcoin Wiki, a bitcoin block chain is a ledger (or transaction database) shared by all nodes participating in the bitcoin system. If one were to obtain a full copy of the block chain, they would be able to see every transaction ever made in that currency.
What Does This Have to Do with the Dark Web?
Photo courtesy of Agora Drugs
As you may know if you’ve ever browsed the dark web, most darknet markets accept bitcoin as payment. Some also accept other cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin, Peercoin, and Primecoin.
So, in theory, let’s say you wanted to purchase something like marijuana, or LSD, etc. You would have to set up an account on whichever darknet market you planned to purchase those products from, and connect it to your bitcoin wallet.
As you can see in the photo above, the user’s account displays how many bitcoins they have available, and this, in turn, corresponds to the products. (It’s kind of like using Amazon or Ebay, but…not).
Although darknet markets are notorious for selling drugs and weapons, there are quite a few other products for sale. They range from expensive watches to hacked credit cards, to counterfeit money, to things as innocuous as books.
I Want My Bitcoin!!! Give It To Me!!!
OK, OK! As I implied earlier, there’s no magic formula for making bitcoins – but there are lots of ways to earn them.
According to Coinbase: 6 Ways to Earn Bitcoin, you can make bitcoin through sites like:
- HackerOne: You can earn bitcoin by identifying security vulnerabilities for major companies (and it’s legal!)
- BitPlay Today: You can play some Android games like Bitcoin Crush, Bitcoin Flapper, and Bitcoin Hopper and earn bits
- Premise Data – If you download the Premise App, you can earn bitcoins by taking photos of local economic data
- BitMaker – Bitcoin Maker – Make bitcoins by displaying ads on your smartphone
- Streamtip – Stream content on Twitch to earn bitcoins
- ZapChain – Join communities and earn bitcoin for posting great content!
Some of these, I must admit, sound a little dubious – the ones that sound too easy probably take a long time to really generate a lot of bitcoin, but you may succeed over time.
Or, if you’re a damn good hacker like these guys, you can just hack into other people’s bitcoin wallets: Hackers Make $103,000 Cracking Bitcoin Wallets
There are, of course, quite a few other ways – but I think I’ll save that for a future post.
And now, I’m off to the Bitcoin Casino…ka-ching!!