Identifying Common Rogue Marketplaces on the Surface WebBrian Pate

When you think of nefarious pharmaceuticals online, typically criminal rings peddling illegal narcotics on the dark web come to mind. In actuality, there are many rogue “pharmacies” and other scammy marketplaces—online casinos or pay-day loan companies—lurking in plain sight on seemingly innocent domains. As websites are a critical tool for any organization or business operating in today’s connected world, this widespread cyber issue negatively impacts legitimate businesses and causes public health risks. Given the immense volume and variety of data on the open web, it is difficult for companies to monitor and mitigate threats, paving the way for malicious actors to go undetected.

This session will detail the research methodologies employed to identify and understand the mass reach of this rogue pharma problem leveraging publicly available information (PAI). Attendees will leave the session understanding how advertising and page rankings can provide a valuable first stop in any investigation, which in this case led researchers to a pharmacy disguised as a Baptist Church. The session will detail how domain tools can be leveraged to identify commonalities with hosting profiles and how source code HTML drives redirection, which led to a named individual who had previously been indicted.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the wide scale of nefarious companies hijacking innocent organizations’ domains
  • Understand the step-by-step methods employed to identify potential rogue pharmacies and other scam “companies,” by walking through real-world research
  • Discover the ways these best practices can be leveraged on a variety of tools to identify threats and find solutions

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