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Black-Hat Hackers’ Crisis Information Processing in the Darknet: a Case Study of Cyber Underground Market Shutdowns

Networks, Hacking, and Media – CITA MS@30: Now and Then and Tomorrow

ISBN: 978-1-78769-666-2, eISBN: 978-1-78769-665-5

ISSN: 2050-2060

Publication date: 27 November 2018

Abstract

This chapter explores collective information processing among black-hat hackers during their crises events. The chapter presents a preliminary study on one of Tor-based darknet market forums, during the shutdowns of two cryptomarkets. Content and network analysis of forum conversations showed that black-hat users mostly engaged with rational information processing and were adept at reaching collective solutions by sharing security advices, new market information, and alternative routes for economic activities. At the same time, the study also found that anti-social and distrustful interactions were aggravated during the marketplace shutdowns. Communication network analysis showed that not all members were affected by the crisis events, alluding to a fragmented network structure of black-hat markets. The chapter concludes that, while darknet forums may constitute resilient, solution-oriented users, market crises potentially make the community vulnerable by engendering internal distrust.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

We are thankful to Dr Paulo Shakarian, Soumajyoti Sarkar, and Hunter Priniski for their help. The project was supported by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) via the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract number FA8750-16-C-0112. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright annotation thereon.

Citation

Kwon, K.H. and Shakarian, J. (2018), "Black-Hat Hackers’ Crisis Information Processing in the Darknet: a Case Study of Cyber Underground Market Shutdowns", Wellman, B., Robinson, L., Brienza, C., Chen, W. and Cotten, S.R. (Ed.) Networks, Hacking, and Media – CITA MS@30: Now and Then and Tomorrow (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 17), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 113-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020180000017007

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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