Cybercrime Economy - A Netnographic Study on the Dark Net Ecosystem for Ransomware
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Black hat hackers are far more shrewd than the public's stereotypical perception of them. They are no longer script kiddies who are trying to impress their social circles, but skilled businessmen with the general aim to profit from exploitative attacks. Very little research has been done on how the cyber-criminals involved make decisions based on profit margin calculations. The dark net provides the perfect environment to commit cyber crimes without being tracked down by law enforcement. An entire economy has emerged in the dark net as a result of transactions of illegal goods and services supported by cryptocurrencies. The social structure of the members in the dark net is strong enough to survive any intrusions made by law enforcement. The dynamic shifts in the field of cyber security has encouraged many researchers to propose different methodologies that capture the true intent of an attacker. In this report, a netnographic study was done to obtain data useful for threat predictions and attacker profiling. This included observations of the online marketplaces in the dark net and the researcher's reflections on the social communications between the different actors involved in the creation and distribution of ransomware. Data collected from this study was also used to deduce a cost-benefit framework.