Lost in the Dream? Measuring the effects of Operation Bayonet on vendors migrating to Dream Market

Rolf van Wegberg, Thijmen Verburgh

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

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In the summer of 2017, an international policing effort - named Operation Bayonet - led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) targeted two prominent online anonymous markets. On the one hand, the FBI succeeded in the take-down of AlphaBay, on the other hand the NHTCU took over, operated and shut down Hansa Market. By coordinating these efforts and planning these actions sequentially, both agencies expected users active on AlphaBay to make their way to Hansa Market - which at that moment was in complete control and operated by the NHTCU. To assess the effects of Operation Bayonet, we leverage measurements of the user-base of current market leader, and then safe haven: Dream Market. We investigate the effects of the operation on all newly registered vendors on Dream Market (n=220) during and shortly after Operation Bayonet by mapping their individual and historic characteristics to discern migration patterns and changes in vendor behavior. Compared to ‘simple’ take-downs, like the AlphaBay take-down, the effects of the Hansa Market shut down on vendors seem remarkably different. Vendors do not just simply move on after the Hansa Market shutdown. Few simply migrate, some take precautions like changing their username and/or PGP-key, but many start over with a clean slate - erasing their past reputation completely - and are truly ‘Lost in the Dream’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvolution of the Darknet Workshop at the Web Science Conference (WebSci 18)
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventWebSci’18: Evolution of the Darknet - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 27 May 201830 May 2018
Conference number: 10




  • Online anonymous markets
  • Police interventions
  • Operation Bayonet
  • Crime displacement


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