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Pricing and Mapping the Underground Economy: An Analysis of Contracts on the Biggest Online Hacking Forum

Hackforums is known as the script kiddie forum of hacking where most up and coming hackers drift to. Past investigations have shown, however, that many established hackers are still very much active on the platform and use it to transact illicit goods and services. This presentation builds on the contract section of the forum that has archives going back over one year. This contract section provides detailed information on the transactions that hackers have negotiated over Hackforums. Using tens of thousands of contracts scraped from Hackforums, David will provide an analysis of the true cost of hacking tools and services, not those advertised publicly on the forum. He will conduct social network analysis of the actors involved in the transaction of illicit goods and services to identify key players and map the structure of the social organization of the illicit trades facilitated by Hackforums. This presentation will provide new and solid evidence of the inner workings of the underground illicit economy, as well as provide a methodology to identify key players in hacker networks based on the best practices of the social network analysis field.