Chair: Rutger Leukfeldt

Cybercrime: the Dark web

Building: B
Room: 31


Author: Décary-Hétu David , Université de Montréal

Title: Lightning up the Darkweb
The internet is often presented as a virtual setting where the disinhibition for deviant behavior and the sense of impunity is high in offenders. This is all truer for the darknet, the sub-section of the internet where all communications between Internet users and servers hosting websites are encrypted. This encryption makes it possible to anonymize the communications and to make it difficult to locate Internet users and active servers on the darknet. Several studies have partially indexed darknet-hosted websites in order to better understand the proportion of illegal content actually present on the darknet. These studies have shown that a significant proportion of darknet-hosted websites distribute or facilitate the distribution of child pornography, illicit drugs, computer hacking tools and stolen personal and financial data. The purpose of this presentation is to build on this past research by performing a much more important monitoring of websites hosted on the darknet. This activity allowed us to increase the proportion of darknet websites studied and to better understand their content. This presentation will also aim to map the links between the various websites hosted on the darknet using network analysis techniques. These analyzes aim to understand the structure, cohesion and presence of key players in this network of websites.
Keywords: cybercrime, dark web, network
Author: Van der Bruggen Madeleine , Dutch National Police, Child Exploitation Team

Title: Unravelling Online Child Exploitation Networks on the Dark Web
This presentation examines the value of a multi-methodological approach in studying child exploitation networks on the Darknet. People interested in child abuse material have professionalized in recent years, and have been gathering on largescale Darknet websites. This askes for a new research approach, and essential research avenues to understanding this field of crime will be discussed. This presentation will thereafter focus on an example. Recently a crime script analysis, based on a sample of communication data (4905 posts) extracted from 4 Darknet child exploitation networks, was conducted. Characteristics of the criminal acts involved with access to these websites (organizational elements as well as personal and environmental factors), modus operandi, as well as safety measures will be expanded on. Moreover, the implications for law enforcement intervention will be considered.
Keywords: cybercrime, dark web, child pornography, child exploitation, networks
Author: Norbutas Lukas, Utrecht University, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement

R. Corten, Department of Sociology, Utrecht University ; S. Ruiter, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement; Department of Sociology, Utrecht University
Title: Dyadic and Network Learning in Online Drug Marketplaces: Commitment or Market Efficiency?
We analyze an exchange network between buyers and vendors of illegal drugs in an online drug marketplace (cryptomarket), focusing on explaining buyers’ choices of vendors. Drug buyers in offline drug trade often form long-lasting market relations with vendors due to large costs of finding market alternatives. This attachment is reinforced by price and quality incentives that sellers offer for loyalty. Cryptomarkets, however, effectively disseminate information about all available market sellers, price of goods, and trustworthiness based on experience of previous buyers. This aspect of online drug marketplaces reduces the cost of finding a new seller, which might lead to low commitment of buyers and a more efficient drug market structure. Alternatively, if buyers draw on personal experience with a potential seller more heavily than that of other buyers, a high buyer-seller commitment level might be observed. We use data from a cryptomarket “Abraxas”, which includes 10,898 exchanges between 3,542 buyers and 463 sellers. We re-create seller alternatives each buyer had at the time of purchase, and analyze how buyers’ experience with each seller, seller’s reputation and other predictors explain buyer’s choices using a discrete choice model. We find that buyers choose highly reputed sellers, but after an initial exchange, personal experience becomes a much stronger predictor of future choices.
Keywords: cybercrime, dark web, networks, cryptomarket, drugs
Author: Van Zanden Nanina, National Dutch Police

Edward Kleemans, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Rutger Leukfeldt, Netherlands Institute for Study of Crime and Law Enforcement and The Hague University of Applied Sciences
Title: The Lifted Veil: Communication Between Actors on Darknetmarket Hansa
This paper focuses on communication between actors on Darknetmarket Hansa, which has been seized by the Dutch National Police and to which the researchers had access. The darkweb is a relatively new place where criminals find each other to carry out illegal activities. In 2017, Operation Bayonet took place and two darknetmarkets were taken down. The Dutch National Police applied a new tactic by secretly taking over the darknetmarket Hansa before taking down this darknetmarket, on which various types of illegal goods were traded, such as drugs, high tech crime tools, and fake documents. For 27 days the Dutch National Police was administrator of this marketplace where thousands of illegal goods were traded on a daily basis. This new tactic resulted in unique insight into the inner working mechanisms, communication patterns, and social structures that kept this marketplace running. This paper describes the emergence of Hansamarket, the different actors playing a key role, and the ways in which these actors communicate with each other. For this paper, communication between actors on Hansamarket was analyzed as well as their activities on this marketplace. The results show that various actors are involved in the emergence of this marketplace and economic motives are the main drivers to contribute to the functioning of this marketplace. Furthermore, reputation and anonymity turn out to play a key role in trust and communication patterns between the actors.
Keywords: Cybercrime, dark web, drugs, networks
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