Why dark web fraud intelligence is vital in preventing fraud

Discover why dark web fraud intelligence is vital in preventing fraud. Every piece of intel is vital to stay ahead of fraudsters.

Patrick Drexler

VP of DACH and Friendly Fraud

2 November 2022


6 min read

It might sound like a given that the modus operandi of every fraud prevention company is to prevent fraud. Of course, it is. What many companies and regular internet surfers may not realise is the scale of this continuous task. This requires dedicated teams of people that investigate underground cybercrime circles, later using the intelligence gained and applying it to fraud prevention strategies. Data scientists and developers are important to the overall success of this approach, but they need to know what they are fighting against in order to make fraud prevention as effective as possible. So how important is dark web fraud intelligence in preventing fraud? To be blunt, it is vital.

TL:DR: what is the dark web and how does it work?

  • The internet that you use on a daily basis to access sites and services is found in the clearnet, which makes up about 5% of the total internet. You can access sites, which are indexed and easily found using search engines or by typing in a short URL.

  • The deep web makes up a whopping 90% or so of the total internet, and is used primarily for official databases (governmental resources, medical records and academic information etc.) darknet is a hidden part of the internet. These databases cannot be found via search engines and can only be accessed with specific links.

  • The dark web (also referred to as the darknet) is the remaining portion of the internet that is primarily focused on anonymisation and privacy. Sites found here can only be accessed using specific browsers such as TOR.

  • Entering the dark web is not recommended for the average internet user. In fact, by nature, this is an environment that requires at least mid-level IT knowledge. Sure, the dark web can be used for communications by people living under oppressive regimes with limited human rights and freedom of speech, however, due to anonymisation, the dark web is a haven for cybercriminals, fraudsters and scammers. To enter the dark web is like entering a bee hive - you enter at your own risk or have a very specific motivation to do so.

Dark web fraud intelligence aids understanding of fraudster tools and techniques

Fraud tools, software and services have become more professional than you could imagine. Advertising and selling these products made by skilled cybercriminals is done in such a way that can put the marketing campaigns of major legitimate companies to shame. It all looks sleek, and they look the real deal, despite their intended purposes of defrauding businesses and individuals. This is why you will often hear about the professionalisation of fraud - it is a serious threat to any online user, let alone businesses dealing with online payments and transactions.

What goes on in the dark web provides not only fraud intelligence but cybersecurity experts with a window into how fraud, scams and cybercrime develop. It is a melting pot of like-minded people, from opportunistic hackers to determined and organised cybercriminals. Knowing what goes on in this environment helps those involved in risk management understand the current and potential future threats they may face. This is where fraud prevention companies such as Nethone come into the fray - by adapting to threats, it is possible to try and stay one step ahead of fraudsters. And helping decision-makers and internet users understand the threats is the reason we also produce our monthly Darknet Summary fraud podcast.

What exactly is available on the dark web for fraudsters?

The availability of software, malware and various tools is one thing, but there’s so much more to understand. It is possible to buy stolen eCommerce accounts, credit card details and even real IDs (which can be used to create fake accounts). These are all beneficial to fraudsters to enact fraud. But having the tools to act is one thing - fraudsters and scammers need to know how to proceed, learning as they go along. Essentially, the most important aspect of dark web cybercrime circles is knowledge.

Fraudster bibles and tutorials are readily available for purchase, or even for free. And very often fraudsters, whether anonymously under an alias or bold and forthright in claiming the limelight (such as Russian hackers rapping about their exploits using their real identities), will explain in great technical detail (step-by-step) how they succeeded in their fraud attempts. Like any good educational book or journal, the hard ‘work in the field’ and ‘research’ is added to dark web markets and forums for other cybercriminals to learn from these exploits.

Simply finding and reading dark web forums and marketplaces can be a valuable tool for any fraud intelligence or cybersecurity investigators. Security patches can be applied to crucial internal company software to prevent attacks, as can anti-fraud systems - the alternative is to fall victim and learn about security flaws only after an attack has succeeded.

Fraud fighting is a continuous cat-and-mouse game

Using anti-fraud systems is one part of an overall solution, however, depending on the choices made by businesses, these can either be ineffective (rules-based anti-fraud can often be bypassed by fraudsters) or efficient by using the most advanced fraud solutions currently available.

Fraud-fighting companies, such as Nethone, that used machine learning models to power fraud detection and prevention are leagues ahead of legacy-based systems. Not only can historical data be used to fight specific threats, but the fraud intelligence gained in the dark web can be incorporated into rules. This forms the core of modern fraud-fighting approaches - which can then evolve to combat future threats.

Every piece of data that can be analysed is essential to fraud prevention, and applying this to behavioural biometrics and digital fingerprinting, allows advanced fraud solutions to uncover a multitude of threats - most of which have been discovered in past fraud threats and in dark web circles. Without dark web fraud intelligence, the risks to online businesses and individuals would be an immense cost - one not many are prepared to allow. This is we continue doing what we do best.


If you want to implement the most advanced fraud solution that incorporates our dark web fraud intelligence, let's talk. Just click 'book a call' at the top of this page or contact Patrick directly via email at patrick.drexler@nethone.com or via LinkedIn.

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