Workshop on the Evolution of the Darknet

27 May 2018

Location: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, BelleVUe 1H-26, BelleVUe building , De Boelelaan 1091, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands


10.00 – 10.45 Keynote: Dark Web Team of the Dutch National Police

10.45 – 11.30 Keynote: Financial Advanced Cyber Team (FACT) of the FIOD

11.30 – 11.45 Break

11.45 – 12.30 Panel (NCA Dark Web Intelligence Unit, Dark Web Team Dutch National Police, TNO)

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 14.15 Keynote: NCA Dark Web Intelligence Unit

Paper session

14.15 – 14.35 Gert Jan van Hardeveld, Craig Webber & Kieron O'Hara

Expert perspectives on the evolution of carders, cryptomarkets and operational security

14.35 – 14.55 Rolf van Wegberg & Thijmen Verburgh

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

14.55 – 15.10 Fieke Miedema – Pitch of bachelor thesis

15.10 – 15.20 Break

15.20 – 16.00 Keynote: TNO - Towards evidence-based Dark Web policing

Relevance of workshop

Cryptomarkets on the darknet have in recent years been used for the selling, buying and sharing of stolen payment card data, drugs, fake IDs, weapons, malware, child-abuse material and many other illicit products and services. Among these, even illegal wildlife products and explosives have been found to be sold. The increased usage of technologies that increase online criminals’ anonymity, such as Tor and cryptocurrencies, has led to a variety of issues hampering law enforcement investigations.

However, recent internationally coordinated law enforcement takedowns may prove to be a paradigm shift for the darknet with criminal communities on the darknet being hit significantly in recent times. Coordinated takedowns of some of the largest cryptomarkets by various law enforcement agencies, together with several arrests, have made global headlines. On the other hand, criminal innovation on cryptomarkets has been continuously evolving, from Bitcoin to Monero, from escrow to multisig, from public forums to invite-only, from link directories to search engines, from postal delivery to dead drops, and from centralised to distributed markets. Such ever-increasing operational security measures of markets and its users requires further darknet research.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the darknet, i.e. mostly physical trade facilitated by innovative technical platforms and tools, the Web Science conference is the ideal host for this workshop. The workshop will look at various topics which have wider implications for the Web Science research community. Examples of these include, but are not limited to, research ethics in underground communities, pseudonymous environments, online subcultures, and the balance between privacy and security.

This workshop can be of interest for researchers from a wide array of fields with different backgrounds and interests. For example, criminology, data science, social network theory, decision-making, innovation, e-commerce and distributed computing are just some of the fields which are relevant to this workshop. As the implications of darknet research can be wide-reaching, novel approaches are encouraged.

Goals of workshop

The aim of this workshop is to explore the changing online criminal environment that is the darknet. Furthermore, its goal is to let people who work at the forefront of this area explore it together, both from law enforcement and academia. The speakers and panelists will therefore be both law enforcement officers and academics.

Law enforcement agencies are generally quite restrictive about the information they share with the public on investigations, particularly on novel topics, such as the darknet. This is the case, as they do not want to make online criminals aware of their modus operandi. Novel research into topics related to the darknet does happen at universities. However, because of a lack of cooperation between universities and law enforcement, such research often stays within the academic environment and misses its practical application. Therefore, this workshop can bring academics and law enforcement closer together and lead to potential future cooperation.

Important dates

Deadline for short paper submissions - 22nd of March

Notification of acceptance - 15th of April

Camera-ready submissions - 27th of April

Program Committee

Judith Aldridge (University of Manchester)

Nicolas Christin (Carnegie Mellon University)

David Décary-Hétu (University of Montréal)

Pieter Hartel (TU Delft)

Alice Hutchings (University of Cambridge)

Anita Lavorgna (University of Southampton)

Rutger Leukfeldt (NSCR & The Hague University of Applied Sciences)

Lisa Sugiura (University of Portsmouth)




Gert Jan van Hardeveld

University of Southampton / FIOD

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