Platforms in Everything: Analyzing Ground-Truth Data on the Anatomy and Economics of Bullet-Proof Hosting

Arman Noroozian, Jan Koenders, Eelco van Veldhuizen, Carlos Hernandez Ganan, Sumayah Alrwais, Damon McCoy, Michel van Eeten

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

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Abstract

This paper presents the first empirical study based on ground-truth data of a major Bullet-Proof Hosting (BPH) provider, a company called Maxided. BPH allows miscreants to host criminal activities in support of various cybercrime business models such as phishing, botnets, DDoS, spam, and counterfeit pharmaceutical websites. Maxided was legally taken down by law enforcement and its backend servers were seized. We analyze data extracted from its backend databases and connect it to various external data sources to characterize Maxided's business model, supply chain, customers and finances. We reason about what the ``inside'' view reveals about potential chokepoints for disrupting BPH providers. We demonstrate the BPH landscape to have further shifted from agile resellers towards marketplace platforms with an oversupply of resources originating from hundreds of legitimate upstream hosting providers. We find the BPH provider to have few choke points in the supply chain amendable to intervention, though profit margins are very slim, so even a marginal increase in operating costs might already have repercussions that render the business unsustainable. The other intervention option would be to take down the platform itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th USENIX Security Symposium
PublisherUSENIX Association
Pages1341-1356
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-939133-06-9
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 28th USENIX Security Symposium

Keywords

  • bullet-proof hosting
  • Security
  • Network Security
  • Web Security

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