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Examining the Geographic Distribution of Victim Nations in Stolen Data Markets

NCJ Number
American Behavioral Scientist Volume: 81 Issue: 11 Dated: 2017 Pages: 1403-1426
Oiga Smirnova; Thomas J. Holt
Date Published
24 pages
Since little research to date has compared the distribution in victim nations of stolen-data markets nor examined any variations between "Open" and "Dark Web" operations, the current article reports on a study that used a rational-choice framework to examine this gap, using a sample of 18 forums and 15 shops hosted on the Open Web and Tor.

The growth of electronic commerce and malicious software tools designed to compromise various payment systems and computer networks has led to concurrent increase in data breaches, phishing, and hacking incidents that target sensitive financial information. As a function of this increase, an underground market economy has developed around the sale of consumers' bank account details and other financial information. Recent research that has examined data markets operating on the Open Web demonstrates their basic functions and distribution of information sold. Emerging evidence suggests markets are now operating on the "Dark Web," or encrypted web sites operating on Tor-based networks. The current study used a rational-choice framework to examine the noted research gap, using a sample of 18 forums and 15 shops hosted on the Open Web and Tor. Using statistical analyses to examine the geography of victimization, this study provides a preliminary test of the applicability of rational-choice theory to market operations. (publisher abstract modified)