This Catch-22 Makes It Even More Dangerous To Investigate Hackers

HackersMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios/IMDBA scene from the 1995 movie ‘Hackers.’

Recent security breaches — including theleak of 200,000 Snapchat photosto the website 4chan and the apparentinfiltration of Dropbox— raise new questions about how hackers are able to proliferate.

Hackers buy and sell our private data in a black market that is so organised and well-protected that it’s tough for law enforcement officials to keep up with sites that often pop up overnight and disappear by the next morning.

What’s more, there’s a catch-22 where criminal investigations may just lead to more cyber crime, as noted by a report released earlier this year by the RAND Corporation’s National Security Research Division.

“[L]aw enforcement may become a victim of its own success,” the report noted, as “more arrests and takedowns lead to more media coverage, and hackers become more aware of the opportunities provided by black markets. Further, those already in the market grow smarter as they learn from law enforcement’s investigative techniques.”

When officials do manage to take down these sites, new ones tend to pop up in their place. Here are some black market sites that re-emerged almost immediately after they were taken down, as noted by Rand:

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