All this attention has had the effect of pushing offenders to adapt to preserve or improve the security of their operations. Some offenders opted for tactical adaptation by using anonymity technologies to protect their operations. OIM responded to this demand for technological solutions by integrating three technology classes into their platforms: anonymization of connections, encryption of communications and virtual currencies. These technological adaptations describe a criminal ecosystem that seeks to find some anonymity after realizing that delinquent activities on the internet could generate rich and compromising traces. For the moment, we have very little visibility on the phenomenon of the adoption of anonymity technologies by offenders.
Long before the adoption of anonymity technologies, delinquent activities had already been transformed by communication technologies, in particular Internet discussion forums. Several forums, in addition to serving as a medium of communication, also contain subsections allowing offenders to advertise illicit goods and services for sale; these subsections are also known as online illicit markets (OIM).
At first glance, OIM seem to be powerful catalysts for delinquency. By playing a role as a place of convergence for delinquents, OIM have however also offered circumscribed environments in which researchers can draw rich traces of delinquent activities. These traces have allowed researchers to understand the size, extent and nature of the exchanges facilitated by OIM. Both public and private security forces have also sought to use these traces for investigative purposes to identify and arrest OIM participants.
All this attention has had the effect of pushing offenders to adapt in order to preserve, and even improve, the security of their operations. Some have chosen to move their activities to more private OIM which strictly control access to traces left by criminals. OIM have responded to this demand for technological solutions by integrating three classes of technologies into their platforms: anonymization of connections, encryption of communications and virtual currencies.
These technological adaptations describe a criminal ecosystem that is actively seeking to regain some anonymity after realizing that criminal activities on the internet can generate rich traces that compromise the safety of offenders. In doing so, criminals have protected themselves against identification based on the use of specific technologies and seek to blend in with the mass of legitimate users of these technologies.
Access to the digital traces left by offenders is not necessarily less, but their interpretation becomes more complex due to the impossibility of deciphering the traces or breaking through the confidentiality ensured by the technologies. Indeed, we currently have very little visibility on the phenomenon of the adoption of anonymity technologies by offenders.
This content has been updated on 6 February 2022 at 13 h 49 min.