Go See a Specialist? Predicting Cybercrime Sales on Online Anonymous Markets from Vendor and Product Characteristics

Rolf van Wegberg, Fieke Miedema, Ugur Akyazi, Arman Noroozian, Bram Klievink, Michel van Eeten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


Many cybercriminal entrepreneurs lack the skills and techniques to provision certain parts of their business model, leading them to outsource these parts to specialized criminal vendors. Online anonymous markets, from Silk Road to AlphaBay, have been used to search for these products and contract with their criminal vendors. While one listing of a product generates high sales numbers, another identical listing fails to sell. In this paper, we investigate which factors determine the performance of cybercrime products.
To answer this question, we analyze scraped data on the business-to-business cybercrime segments of AlphaBay (2015-2017), consist- ing of 7,543 listings from 1,339 vendors, sold at least 126,934 times. We construct new variables to capture product differentiators and price. We capture the influence of vendor characteristics by identifying five distinct vendor profiles based on latent profile analysis of six properties. We leverage these product and vendor characteristics to empirically predict the performance of cybercrime products, whilst controlling for the lifespan and type of solution. Consistent with earlier insights into carding forums, we identify prevalent product differentiators to be influencing the relative success of a product. While all these product differentiators do correlate significantly with product performance, their explanatory power is lower than that of vendor profiles. When outsourcing, the vendor seems to be of more importance to the buyers than product differentiators.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of The Web Conference (WWW)
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic) 978-1-4503-7023-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventIW3C2: The Web Conference 2020 - Taipei, Taiwan
Duration: 20 Apr 202024 Apr 2020


ConferenceIW3C2: The Web Conference 2020
Internet address


  • Online anonymous markets
  • Cybercrime


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