What are hackerĀ“s motives?

What is the driver today for breaking into a network? The question is not new, of course there has always been a driver for people with computer skills and an open conscience to do do something outside of the normal legal limits. But times are changing, and it is important we ask ourselves – what are the hackers motives? It started years ago with the glory of being able to deface a web site or owning a remote system. A glory that was somewhat limited to peer hackers and their community.

A cartoon illustration of a group of attackers

Now when these hackers and their friends have grown up many of them have also gained a business sense. What does that mean? Well they are still using their skills but now they have switched the goal of glory to a goal of topping up a leather wallet. Studies and statistics shows that these days you can buy anything you need for your dark interests. A botnet is only a paypal click away and so is an exploit for your competitors web systems. Should you rather prefer to pay by credit card you can start by buying a stolen card number and then buy the botnet…

Statistics shows that 65% of Internet users today are victims for cyber criminality. Statistics also show that 81% of data breaches were due to some form of hacking at the same time as 79% of all victims were targets of opportunity (Verizon, 2012). When cyber criminality costs trillions of US Dollars each year for companies and organizations it is obvious that the risk of an opportunistic attack is reality today and that an proactive approach must be taken to prevent that from happening.

What we can say is that if glory once meant to own a website it now means becoming wealthy by selling your hacker skills to the highest bidder. Competent hackers are available for hire, all you need is a credit card, not necessarily your own.

Some recent examples with further reading on the topic:

Verizon – Data Breach Investigations 2012
Trend Micro – Russian Underground 101

About Linus Degrell

Linus is an experienced vulnerability management expert with an academic background from BTH. Linus has worked helping clients creating and managing their vulnerability management programs for years, and today is an expert often speaking at different security events related to vulnerability management.

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