This project proposes to use social laboratory experiments, never before used in the field of cybercrime, in order to better understand and model cybercriminal networks’ responses to Law Enforcement disruption operations in online criminal marketplaces. These marketplaces are defined as platforms enabling the sale and purchase of illegal goods and services and include Silk Road, DarkMarket, and CarderPlanet, among many others.
Law Enforcement has been using slander operations (giving false reviews to vendors), Sybil operations (creating fake profiles defaulting on trade orders), both aimed at disrupting trust on these platforms, and shutdown operations, aimed at disrupting the infrastructure the platforms are based on. These operations will be replicated in controlled laboratory settings in order to test their respective effectiveness in a scientific environment. Participants will be asked to trade with each other in order to observe their behaviour when subjected to the above disruption operations. Participants’ responses will then inform disruption policies about which operations to use, when to use them, whether to use them individually or simultaneously, and what ‘breaking points’ Law Enforcement should act upon in order to disrupt these marketplaces more efficiently. The experiment will be conducted in Michaelmas Term 2019 so this discussion will be centred around the context for the use of this new method in the field and the experimental design as it currently stands.