The dark web economy got its name for a reason – it is a complete business operation for criminals who sell and trade illegal data and products just like any other economy. In 2020, Researchers published about 1,500 internal reports of significant findings across a crime scene that covered forums, markets, leaky data centers, nailed chat platforms and discussion boards. Since the turn of the millennium, advances in computer technology have led to an unprecedented number of people. This has also led to an increase in job opportunities for cyber threats from high-level hacking and cyber-as-a-service models to compromised accounts and scams to steal sensitive information. 

As the dark web economy changes with supply and demand, cybercriminals are competing with customers and prominence. It has become common for threatening actors to spread false information or use deceptive tactics to intimidate the competition.

Competition in Dark Web Economy

Many underground communities, including forums, markets and encrypted chat networks offer a place for threat actors who threaten to buy and sell resources and build relationships with other actors entirely under the guise of anonymity. However, as these communities gather more members, competition increases – and it intimidates actors spread false information and expose members to block competition. Often, when a threatening character joins these communities, they strive to gain the trust of other members. This could include engaging with other threatening actors or selling tools and equipment. Anonymity and security play a major role in these illegal networks, and reputation is important in gaining the trust of legitimate actors and removing unscrupulous members – such as fraudsters, security researchers and law enforcement officials.

Delivery and Distribution techniques 

To stay competitive in this underground society, threatening actors have used new delivery methods. These tactics are used to spread threats to planned targets across the dark web economy. A new approach that has emerged involves threatening actors who use the Morse code to deliver fraud URLs to steal sensitive information from their victims. Due to its history of successful attacks, threatening actors have increased their use of the RDP this quarter to attack home workers. Cybercriminals are looking for illegal markets with a reputation for providing their services in a secure and reliable way, such as business deals conducted in the traditional economy. 

However, wicked activity takes place on a dark web every day, posing a real threat to security groups and businesses.

By Vedant Soni

Campus Ambassador, WCSF

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