Compared to other underground communities in other regions, the cybercriminal underground in North America isn’t as hidden or exclusive. Cybercriminal operations are treated like regular businesses, and its sites, forums, and marketplaces are easily accessed. In effect, the North American underground is more like a glass tank where business goes on in full view of both cybercriminals and law enforcement. This makes it unique compared to the dark mazes and solid walls put up to hide cybercriminal communities in other regions.
The North American underground has been in business for years now, and like other underground scenes, its marketplaces are known for banking on the sale of drugs and other illicit products and services, as well as crimeware and stolen data. The markets here are very competitive, with vendors that sell very similar products—a practice that has driven down market prices over time. Unlike other underground scenes, a lot of North American cybercrime operations don’t shy away from peddling its goods in the open. In fact, underground site offerings are often found in the Surface Web, blatantly advertised on forums and YouTube videos to draw in more customers.
It’s so accessible that anybody who words their queries right can easily find pages abound with underground info and wares. The open nature of the North American underground allows sellers to gain more customers, ultimately resulting in greater profit. Naturally, it also makes them visible. Again, just like a glass tank, the underground is as fragile as it is transparent. Underground sites have a short life span, and they can easily disappear within a short span of time, which makes tracking the illegal activities and the people behind them very tricky for law enforcement, who has to keep up with the cat-and-mouse game on every takedown operation.
Drug-related activities and trade remain to be at the core of North American underground markets. However, it also offers a more diverse range of illegal products and services that cater to a wider range of customers—manifesting how in the North American underground, there’s something for everybody. From basic hacking tools that facilitate anonymous transactions to counterfeit identification (ID) cards and citizenship documents, North American Underground: The Glass Tank, offers an in-depth look into the inner workings of a cybercriminal economy rife with crimeware, data dumps, and drugs.