The topology of dark networks

In the current issue of CACM, there is a very interesting article on “The topology of dark networks“. This is the first study I see of the topological structure of dark networks, that is, networks hidden from view and yet with a potentially devastating impact on society. The authors examine 4 real networks or terrorists, criminals and drug dealers. Despite some (inevitable) limitations regarding the reliability of such data, the study highlights some important aspects: for example, dark networks share many topological properties with other types of networks, in particular, the small-world structure, making them more vulnerable to bridge attacks rather than hub attacks. They have an incredibly high clustering coefficient, which cannot simply be recreated using preferential attachment, suggesting that other mechanisms govern the dynamics of such networks.

Studying the temporal evolution of these networks, and how they can be attacked, seems extremely interesting and may give authorities very valuable information to be used for intelligence purposes.

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