All crime reflects the culture that it happens in.
Whether something is even a crime or not depends on the culture of where you are. What is perfectly legal in one country can be a serious crime in another. What makes the difference, generally, is the different cultures in those counties.
Cultural reflections in crime are something you see in online crime as well.
While there are somethings that are universal to online crime around the globe (like malware), a lot of online crime reflects the culture just like real-world crime does.
This is a theme that has emerged over the past three years in our ongoing investigations into the different countries’ markets that make up the global Cybercrime Underground Economy.
We’ve just released our latest report in that series, focusing on France, a new addition to our country roster.
Even though English is the de facto global language of cybercrime, our research found that the French Underground operates in French. This isn’t surprising given the long and proud history of the French language, both as the language of France but also the global language of La Francophonie.
Still, non-English undergrounds are the exception rather than the rule and helps set those undergrounds somewhat apart from the collective global cybercrime underground.
In that way, the French Underground is similar to Japanese Underground which we talked about nearly a year ago. The French Underground is similar to the Japanese Underground as well by being a closed underground that is hard to gain entry to.
Similar to the Japanese Underground, the French Underground looks on newcomers with distrust and makes it hard to gain entry. However, once in the French Underground, the distrust doesn’t go away.
Our researcher found an underground culture that is rife with mistrust that would sometimes flare into outright hostility. In this and other research, we’ve shown that mistrust may not be misplaced, since underground marketplace operators engage in scams and theft.
The offerings on the French Underground also uniquely reflect French culture to a degree that other undergrounds don’t. Our researchers found offerings to enable buyers to circumvent France’s unique system of points for driver’s licenses. Shoppers can buy kits for use under France’s sedated dying law (which can also be used on others in violation of France’s murder laws). France’s very strict laws against weapons translate into a variety of concealable or camouflaged weapons.
Another thing that our researcher found that is unique to the French Underground is the “autoshop”. The autoshop is a small, individual owner-operator marketplace. It can almost be thought of as a “bodega” in the underground. In contrast to the larger forums and marketplaces with many sellers (much like a mall) the autoshop is single market run selling goods. The autoshop is so popular in the French Underground that our researcher is seeing the growth of an additional supporting industry: those who will help you set up your own autoshop quickly and easily (for a fee of course).
These are just the highlights of this report. There’s more in our full report “The French Underground: Under a Shroud of Extreme Caution.”