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Casting the Dark Web in a New Light

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Casting the Dark Web in a New Light

By examining cybercrime through a value-chain lens, we can better understand how the ecosystem works and find new strategies for combating it.

MIT Sloan Management Review,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Hackers and their management-savvy customers are prospering in a dark-web cybercrime ecosystem.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


The financial costs of cyber crime are set to reach $6 trillion by 2021, and executives are increasingly struggling to protect their businesses. Cyber criminals prosper partly because they’ve built a sophisticated supply chain on the dark web, whereby they provide every service necessary to launch – and profit from – an attack. Researchers at the Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan (CAMS) consortium analyzed dark web markets and interviewed cybersecurity experts to build a comprehensive portrait of the online cyber crime ecosystem. In a white paper for the MIT Sloan Management Review, the authors describe the marketplaces where hackers and attackers come together. The paper also offers much-needed fresh strategies for combating the threat.


On the dark web, cyber criminals have built a value system that provides a comprehensive cyberattack supply chain.

Cybercrime is increasing, and cyber criminals are constantly innovating, which challenges executives to defend their businesses. One reason for cyber criminals’ success is that their dark web supply chain facilitates attacks by enabling criminals to buy and sell services and products. In Cyberattack-as-a-Service (CAaaS) marketplaces, hackers offer databases, fraudulent websites, security checkers, silent bitcoin miners, and more.

By creating divisions of labor, cyberattack marketplaces have made cyber crime more accessible and more profitable.

Hackers needn't launch...

About the Authors

Keman Huang is a research scientist at Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan (CAMS). Michael Siegel is a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-director of CAMS. Keri Pearlson is the executive director of CAMS. Stuart Madnick is the John Norris Maguire Professor of Information Technology in the MIT Sloan School of Management, professor of engineering systems in the MIT School of Engineering and co-director of CAMS.

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