Darknet Cybercriminals Capitalize on Black Friday

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Black Friday Caption.
Black Friday has become a global cultural phenomenon, and the dark web has been embracing it.

“Black Friday,” or the day after Thanksgiving, has become an international consumer phenomenon, where buyers all around the world search the internet and brick-and-mortar stores for the best “deals” on all sorts of goods and services.

The idea of a “black day” typically has a negative connotation. For example, in 1987, markets around the world crashed extensively.

The term “Black Monday” and “Black Tuesday” have also been associated with The Great Depression, the most devastating stock market plunge in the history of the United States.

“Black Friday,” however, has become synonymous with bargains and deals, as retailers gear up for the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where, traditionally, they experience the most traffic and activity.

“Black Friday” has actually become such an effective consumer phenomenon that companies have followed suit, creating their own “days” and marketing them accordingly.

For example, the wildly successful Amazon, which recently reached a trillion dollar market capitalization, recently began “Amazon Prime Day,” where consumers purchase billions of dollars worth of products.

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Black Friday Has Created Competitors

The tradition is clearly strengthening, as the Prime Day of 2018 was its most successful ever.

The influential Chinese tech company Alibaba has even recently one-upped Black Friday with “Singles’ Day,” celebrated on November 11.

Screenshot from black friday infographics.
Infographic credit: Statista

The “Black Friday” cultural phenomenon has also given rise to “Cyber Monday,” where online retailers offer steep discounts, as well.

The “Singles’ Day” holiday was originally marketed as a way for young Chinese adults to celebrate their single relationship status, but has morphed into the largest online and offline consumer holiday in the world, even topping Black Friday for the past two years.

Alibaba President Michael Evans has remarked that he travels everywhere in the world, and “there are not many people who don’t know about 11/11.”

The holiday has become such a cultural phenomenon that the dark web is now celebrating its own “Dark Friday” with its own deals, many of which are not exactly legal.

Cybercriminals seem to understand that consumers are willing to spend during these particular days, and have figured out how to take advantage of this.

Dark Web Black Friday Offers

The dark web’s interest in Black Friday activities has been demonstrated in recent research from Digital Shadows, a threat intelligence firm. The report shows several examples of this in play.

For instance, cybercriminals ensure that they have an inventory on hand of valid stolen credit card information before the Black Friday weekend, understanding that many individuals will be hoping to spend massive amounts of money.

report screenshot.
Screenshot from Digital Shadows report

A Portuguese Telegram channel is shown here advertising the fact that they have stolen credit card information, urging users to take advantage of the sale while it lasts:There are even situations where criminal organizations seek out those who are willing to rent out their homes or P.O. boxes as “drops” to mitigate risk.

For those who are unsure about the term, a “drop” is the shipping address utilized in order to order goods with stolen credit cards, and obviously carries its own risks since ordering goods off stolen credit cards is illegal.

There are even individuals called “pickers” who recruit “drop” locations in order for the entire criminal operation to continue.

It obviously follows that the cybercriminals help to avoid law enforcement by delegating out this responsibility for others to receive the packages purchased off stolen credit card information.

The term “drop” is well known in the criminal underground as a location that somehow serves a criminal organization, and there was even a successful 2014 movie entitled The Drop—the entire plot of which involved a “drop” location—starring critically acclaimed actor Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini (most known for playing Tony Soprano on The Sopranos).

Below are screenshots from the Digital Shadows report of an individual clearly attempting to gain more drop locations and pickers as Black Friday nears.

Black friday screenshots.
Screenshots from Digital Shadows report
Screenshot from black friday report.
Screenshots from Digital Shadows report

It is clear that he wants to be able to meet the demand for one of the busiest consumer weekends in the world, and points out that he will part with certain “items” for “very cheap”:The phenomenon shouldn’t be too surprising, as it only makes sense on a psychological level for cybercriminals to take advantage of Black Friday, considering the opportunity for profit.

It certainly exemplifies how much the “Black Friday” phenomenon has embedded itself into society on a cultural level, as well.

Jay Carter

Jay Carter focuses on technology, business, and cryptocurrency. He is interested in how the dark web can be a force for good, and how technology will shape our future overall.
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