Visible to the public CAREER: Securing Cyberspace: Gaining Deep Insights into the Online Underground EcosystemConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details

Lead PI

Performance Period

Jun 05, 2019 - Mar 31, 2024


Case Western Reserve University


National Science Foundation

Award Number

As the Internet becomes increasingly ubiquitous, it offers a low-risk harbor for cybercrime -- illegal activities such as hacking and online scams. Cybercrime is increasingly enabled by an online underground ecosystem, within which are anonymous forums and so-called dark web platforms for cybercriminals to exchange knowledge and trade in illicit products and services. To better protect the trust of legitimate institutions and users within cyberspace, and to disrupt or mitigate the harm of illegal markets, there is an urgent need to gain deep insights into the online underground ecosystem and understand its intricate relationships. The goal of this project is to design and develop an integrated computational framework for in-depth investigation of the online underground ecosystem and thus to help secure cyberspace by producing data-driven interventions of cybercrimes.

The research will have three main parts. First, the research team will design methods and develop algorithmic and scalable techniques to automate the analysis of online underground markets. Second, the team will develop a novel framework for cross-market user identification and profiling. Third, the team will design an innovative model and propose algorithms for structural analysis of cybercriminal social networks to gain deep insights into the organization and operation of cybercriminals in the ecosystem. The broader impacts of this work include benefits to scientific communities and society as a whole by developing interventions into online crime to secure cyberspace for its users. The establishment of a cybersecurity lab through this project will enhance education and workforce training in cybersecurity. The project integrates research with education through curriculum development, the participation of underrepresented groups, and student mentoring activities for a newly-established cybersecurity degree program.