Inside the Dark Web Justice System

In popular entertainment, hackers are typically portrayed as rebellious teenagers attacking global banks from their parents’ basements, or as skateboarding cyberpunks wearing leather boots and mittens.

In reality, successful cybercrime ventures are usually financially motivated and most often linked to actual criminal organizations or autocratic governments.

But that doesn’t mean the cybercrime community is lawless – in fact, it has its own dark web justice system.

Why hackers use the dark web

The term ‘dark web’ itself has sinister connotations, but in general, it is just a generic term used to describe a subsection of the Internet not indexed by regular search engines and accessible only. via specialized software.

In other words, if you are browsing this page right now, you are on what is called the surface web. To securely access anonymous dark web websites, you need to use Tor browser or similar software, as well as a reliable VPN.

The dark web is not illegal, but the anonymity it offers has made it a haven for cybercriminals, who tend to congregate and organize in forums, where they discuss community news, share hacking resources and resolve disputes.

What are Dark Web Courts?

As in any other community, there are regular conflicts between cybercriminals. Since the money is at stake, disagreements are usually both contentious and substantial.

Cyber ​​security researchers at Analyst1 released a report in late 2021 detailing what they described as the dark web’s own justice system.


Just like in the real world, a dispute arises in court when two or more parties encounter an intractable problem and ask an authority for some mediation or intervention.

For example, if a group of hackers buys compromised network access from another and then realizes that it has already been sold to a third party, they can take their case to court.

The tribunal in this case is a forum for underground hackers and its administrators are the judges.

To “prosecute” another threatening actor, the accuser must open a discussion thread on the appropriate sub-forum, describe their claim in detail, name the defendant (this includes providing contact details, such as Telegram), present evidence, and share any relevant information relating to the case.

Since the entire process takes place in the virtual world, chat logs, cryptocurrency transaction records, and screenshots are considered evidence.

If the arbitrators determine that the accuser made a convincing case and condemn the defendant, the defendant is ordered to comply within a specified time.

If they don’t comply, they are banned from the forum and therefore lose access to valuable information, hacking resources, and all rights granted to community members.

RELATED: What Is a Cybercrime Investigator & Can You Be One?

If the accused is cleared, the arbitrators close the case.

There is no jury, although other forum members are free to comment in the thread, participate in the discussion, and share their own opinions on the dispute.

Should you be worried about the Dark Web Courts?

Dark web courts have settled thousands of disputes over the years, according to Analyst1 researchers. In some cases, financial claims have reached as high as $ 20 million.

But the fact that cybercriminals have their own quasi-democratic system and a judicial process does not suggest that they have developed a conscience, but rather proves how well organized and sophisticated the threat actors have become, and therefore more dangerous. .

What can we learn from the courts of the Dark Web?

This shows how important it is to stay abreast of new trends in cybercrime, invest in robust protection, and take basic security precautions.

Cybercriminals tend to target organizations rather than individuals, so every business should, in addition to updating all systems and training employees, consider decentralizing their data.

And if you want to access and browse the dark web, even out of sheer curiosity, make sure you do so securely and anonymously.

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