Illicit market exchanges in cybercriminal markets are plagued by problems of verifiability and enforceability: trust is one way to ensure reliable exchange. It is fragile and hard to establish. One way to do that is to use the administrative structure of the market to control transactions. This is common among a specific type of market, darknet cryptomarkets. These are sites for the sale of illicit goods and services, hosted anonymously using the Tor darknet. However reliance on the technology and the market administrators exposes users to excessive risk. We examine a case of a market that rejects several key technological features now common in cryptomarkets, but is nonetheless reliable and robust. We apply a techno-social approach that looks at the way participants use and combine technologies with social relationships. Methods were designed to capture the interactional context of the illicit market. We aimed to examine both person to person interaction and the technical infrastructure the market relied on. We find that it maintains itself through a shared common security orientation, community participation in key decisions about products sold, performing trust signalling and lateral trust between members. There are implications for how resilience in cryptomarkets is understood.
- digital sociology