Authorship attribution in the dark web

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University of New Brunswick


This thesis is about authorship attribution (AA) within multiple Dark Web forums and the question of whether AA is possible beyond the boundaries of a single forum. AA can become a curse for users that try to protect their anonymity and simultaneously become a blessing for law enforcement groups that try to track users. To determine to what extent AA threatens the anonymity of Dark Web users, a dataset of four Dark Web forums was created. Within the analysis, two different approaches are considered: feeding classifiers with posts from two forums, and training classifiers with posts from another forum than what is used for testing. Even for the largest dataset, the author of a post is at least 94% within the top three most likely candidates. This shows that AA can be a danger to the anonymity of Dark Web users across the boundaries of different forums.