Upside Down: Exploring the Ecosystem of Dark Web Data Markets

Bogdan Covrig*, Enrique Barrueco Mikelarena, Constanta Rosca, Catalina Goanta, Gerasimos Spanakis, Apostolis Zarras

*Corresponding author for this work

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

2 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Large-scale dark web marketplaces have been around for more than a decade. So far, academic research has mainly focused on drug and hacking-related offers. However, data markets remain understudied, especially given their volatile nature and distinct characteristics based on shifting iterations. In this paper, we perform a large-scale study on dark web data markets. We first characterize data markets by using an innovative theoretical legal taxonomy based on the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention and its implementation in Dutch law. The recent Covid-19 pandemic showed that cybercrime has become more prevalent with the increase of digitalization in society. In this context, important questions arise regarding how cybercrime harms are determined, measured, and prioritized. We propose a determination of harm based on criminal law qualifications and sanctions. We also address the empirical question of what the economic activity on data markets looks like nowadays by performing a comprehensive measurement of digital goods based on an original dataset scraped from twelve marketplaces consisting of approximately 28,000 offers from 642 vendors. The resulting analysis combines insights from the theoretical legal framework and the results of the measurement study. To our knowledge, this is the first study to combine these two elements systematically.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICT Systems Security and Privacy Protection - 37th IFIP TC 11 International Conference, SEC 2022, Proceedings
EditorsWeizhi Meng, Simone Fischer-Hübner, Christian D. Jensen
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783031069741
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event37th IFIP International Conference on ICT Systems Security and Privacy Protection, SEC 2022 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 13 Jun 202215 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
Volume648 IFIP
ISSN (Print)1868-4238
ISSN (Electronic)1868-422X


Conference37th IFIP International Conference on ICT Systems Security and Privacy Protection, SEC 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


Dive into the research topics of 'Upside Down: Exploring the Ecosystem of Dark Web Data Markets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this