For cybercriminals, the anonymity of the Internet offers not only opportunities but also challenges.
Where one does not truly know whom one is doing business with, it makes it difficult to assess trustworthiness or to retaliate should dealings go sour and agreements need to be enforced. This creates a large deficit of trust, beyond even that common among conventional criminals, and makes cybercriminal transactions very unstable. As a result, it might be expected that cybercriminals would often act alone. But, in reality, cybercriminals collaborate quite widely. This is the puzzle that this article addresses. In order to overcome the major challenges of online anonymity, and to capitalise on its benefits, cybercriminals have developed a range of mechanisms that buttress trust. These include mechanisms relating to (1) establishing cybercriminal identities; (2) assessing cybercriminal attributes; and (3) extra-legal governance.