Crime on the Darknet – the case of brand abuse

Victoria Wang*, Jim Gee, Mark Button

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In recent years, the Darknet has become synonymous with a wide range of potential criminal activities from the purchase of fraudulent credit cards, sale of drugs to access to child pornography. This chapter reports on a recent small-scale research on brand abuse on the Darknet. The research project emerges from a desire to begin to understand of how the Darknet is used by fraudsters and cyber-criminals to support, plan, execute and monetise attacks on companies by abusing their brand names. Our empirical research focuses on the top 50 UK brands, as identified in the 2017 UK brand directory league table. We quickly discovered discussions, and attempts to market services and products, intended to defraud or perpetrate cybercrime against 21 of the top 50 UK brands, which could be grouped into four categories: (i) banking and finance, (ii) telecommunications, (iii) retail and entertainment, and (iv) energy and transport. For example, in line with current research on cybercrime against businesses, it appeared that the banking and finance section was the biggest target of brand abuse—sensitive personal data were easily accessible, readily available and cheap to purchase.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Security
EditorsMartin Gill
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages447 - 468
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783030917357
ISBN (Print)9783030917340
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2022


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