The Ransomware-as-a-Service economy within the darknet
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionComputers & security. 2020, 92, . 10.1016/j.cose.2020.101762
Ransomware is an epidemic that adversely affects the lives of both individuals and large companies, where criminals demand payments to release infected digital assets. In the wake of the ransomware success, Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) has become a franchise offered through darknet marketplaces, allowing aspiring cybercriminals to take part in this dubious economy. We have studied contemporary darknet markets and forums over a period of two years using a netnographic research approach. Our findings show that RaaS currently seems like a modest threat relative to popular opinion. Compared to other types of illegal digital goods, there are rather few RaaS items offered for sale in darknet marketplaces, often with questionable authenticity. From our data we have created a value chain and descriptions of the actors involved in this economy.