Information Exchange Paths In IRC Hacking Chatrooms


Today’s world is more than ever focused on information. This is particularly true in the computer security world where the success or the failure of an attack on a network will often depend on how intimately the attacker knows his target. In order to gain such knowledge, hackers will either read online tutorials and forums or will exchange tips and tricks with other members of the computer underground. This study focuses on the latter and aims to understand how hackers shape their personal network of connections in order to gather information on potential victims. Using logs of online Internet Chat Relay (IRC) chats, we present the ego networks of over 262 hackers who visited hacking chatrooms and talked about hacking with 356 other people.  Our study shows that hackers interact with each other in what appears to be small and dense networks where direct connectivity is more important than indirect connections. The number of contacts in the ego networks is limited in most cases and the number of brokers is fairly poor. Alters and egos evolve in very dense ego networks where everyone knows everyone. We also find that IRC chatrooms should be excellent learning classrooms for any hacker who would like to hone his skills on a variety of subjects.

This content has been updated on 8 August 2016 at 18 h 05 min.