An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Internet Miscreants

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Full Title of Reference

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Internet Miscreants

Full Citation

Jason Franklin, Vern Paxson, Stefan Savage, Adrian Perrig, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Internet Miscreants, ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), ACM, November, 2007. Web AltWeb



Key Words

Botnet, Credit Card Fraud, Crimeware, DDoS Attack, Organized Crime


This paper studies an active underground economy which specializes in the commoditization of activities such as credit card fraud, identity theft, spamming, phishing, online credential theft, and the sale of compromised hosts. Using a seven month trace of logs collected from an active underground market operating on public Internet chat networks, we measure how the shift from “hacking for fun” to “hacking for profit” has given birth to a societal substrate mature enough to steal wealth into the millions of dollars in less than one year.

This paper is a first exploration into measuring and analyzing this market economy. Using a dataset collected over 7 months and com- prising over 13 million messages, we document a large illicit mar- ket, categorize the participants and explore the goods and services offered. It is our belief that better understanding the underground market will offer insight into measuring threats, how to prioritize defenses and, ultimately, may identify vulnerabilities in the under- ground economy itself.

The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 provides an overview of the market being studied. Section 3 is an analysis of relevant issues including market significance, participation, and services. Section 4 measures the advertisements seen in the market and pro- vides price data. Section 5 discusses applications of our measure- ments and countermeasures to disrupt the market. Sections 6 and 7 present related work and our conclusions.

Additional Notes and Highlights

Expertise Required: Statistics - Low; Economics - Low