Reputation In A Dark Network Of Online Criminals

Cybercriminals are increasingly focusing their attention on ways to monetize their criminal activities online. In order to do so, some criminals have taken over computer systems to build private networks of infected machines which can they can control remotely. These botmasters (as they are known in the computer underground) have created massive networks – or botnets - over the past few years. It is not uncommon for them to have anywhere between a few thousands and a few hundred thousands infected machines under their control. Botmasters meet online on a variety of digital platforms which include discussion boards, eBay-style auction sites and Internet Chat Relay chatrooms to buy and sell their services and to keep up-to-date on the latest trends in the world of botnets.

For the purpose of this study, we focused on a single discussion board where over 20,000 individuals gathered between 2007 and 2011 to discuss the subject of botnets and to buy or sell services related to this illegal activity. In this inherently hostile environment, the personal reputation of a member is crucial to establish business relationships with others. Members of this forum could raise their public profile by joining user groups and by receiving awards from the forum administrators. The aim of this paper will be to determine the impact of joining a user group and of receiving awards on the personal reputation of members. A regression model will be developed to precisely measure the weight of these variables as well as the weight of other characteristics such as past online activity, personal social network and geographical location. This model will also take into account the specific features of each user group and each award to determine if certain classes of user groups and awards have a different impact on the personal reputation of members.

This content has been updated on 8 August 2016 at 18 h 01 min.