Feeds

Boffins plot to disrupt underground black markets

Fake IDs to thwart trade in stolen IDs

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Academic researchers are developing techniques to disrupt underground black markets frequented by malicious hackers and virus writers.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed two approaches to interrupt the operation of black market sites that hawk viruses, stolen data, and attack services.

One tactic involves bad mouthing buyers or sellers in order to eliminate their verified status, discouraging others from engaging in trades with them. The other attacks the effectiveness of the markets themselves by undermining the cybercrooks' verification or reputation system, creating a deceptive sales environment.

One technique developed by the team involves establishing fake verified-status identities that are difficult to distinguish from other-verified status sellers, making it hard for buyers to identify "honest" verified-status sellers from "dishonest" verified-status sellers.

"Just like you need to verify that individuals are honest on eBay, online criminals need to verify that they are dealing with 'honest' criminals," explained Jason Franklin, a PhD student in computer science at Carnegie Mellon.

Franklin, and fellow researcher Adrian Perrig at Carnegie Mellon, has been working with Vern Paxson of the International Computer Science Institute and Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego, in designing new computer tools to better understand and potentially thwart the growth of online black markets.

The project involved monitoring the black market for seven months and developing automated tools to make sense of the data. The researchers estimate trades in illegal materials worth an estimated $37m took place during the monitoring period. This involved the trade in 80,000 credit card records, though how many of these were valid was outside the scope of the project.

Despite law enforcement actions against known black market sites, such as the US Secret Service-run Operation Firewall three years ago, underground sites continue to proliferate. The operation, which targeted the notorious Shadowcrew and resulted in 28 arrests around the globe, barely scratched the surface of the problem, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers.

"The scary thing about all this is that you do not have to be in the know to find black markets, they are easy to find, easy to join and just a mouse click away," Franklin said. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.