What Drives Hackers? (Part 2)
What motivations hackers may have in their relentless pursuit of our data
Earlier this week we explored some of the financial motivations of hackers, accounting for a large part of hacking activity today. This week we’ll explore what some of the other motivations hackers may have in their relentless pursuit of our data.
Challenge, fame seeking, bragging rights, or just plain boredom
Back in the day, hackers were thought to be the bored, disgruntled teenagers in the basement. While hacking for financial gain continues to be the growing trend, hacking or fame or bragging rights has not ceased. Just as a hunter experiences the thrill of the chase, so do some of these hackers. The more challenging the hack, the more of a thrill it is. However, these days, little skill is required as automation and tools play such a large part of the process. Common to most hackers is the need to display their prowess to their community of other hackers, and sometimes the world. A case in point is a hacker who goes by the moniker ‘Peace’ who claimed responsibility for the massive Yahoo hack. Then there are those that do it out of pure boredom, like the 15-year old Austrian boy arrested for hacking 259 companies over a 90-day period, who claimed he was bored and wanted to prove himself.
These hackers aren’t always motivated by money and are sometimes employed by States, working with government agencies, contractors, or groups like ISIS, LulzSec or Anonymous. Some call it cyber espionage, or cyber terrorism, or digital disobedience. Whatever they call it, they do it for a variety of financial or societal reasons, and it is keeping leaders up at nights. These hacktivists use hacking as one tool in the arsenal to disrupt, deny, and disseminate information or interfere with lines of communication. Sometimes it is used to confuse and obfuscate information that is undesirable or helps the enemy. They may or may not take credit depending on their objectives. For example, Anonymous often goes public with their exploits to highlight the cause and take credit. Sometimes, but not always, they are believers in a cause and see themselves as working toward that end or making a statement by venting their anger.
Fun, anger or revenge
Hackers, just like everyone else, have more base motivations. They may attack a company for fun just to see what chaos they can cause. There is a powerful surge of adrenaline while doing a risky hack, and for some this can be addictive. Sometimes, they’ll use their skills to take out revenge fantasies on some organization or group that they see as having wronged them.
There are also groups of hackers known as “white hats” or “ethical hackers” that are out to do good. Motivated by the desire to point out vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could exploit, or even to make systems more secure, like they did with the Pentagon, these hackers usually share their findings with potential targets so improvements can be made.
In any case, no matter what their personal motivations are, what most hackers have in common is the urge not to get caught!
“…what most hackers have in common is the urge not to get caught!”
Hackers do have endgames that will differ depending on their original objectives. Whether for financial gain, to cause a stir, increase reputation or create awareness, once they meet their goals they move on to the next hack and the next target. Just as the legit world seeks ways to eliminate or catch hackers, they will continually find new ways to penetrate our accounts, and our networks and evade detection.
The best way to defeat them is to make them irrelevant. The statement “Who cares if we get hacked?” would strike fear in many hacker’s hearts because it would deem them irrelevant. Behavioral biometrics can do just that, by ensuring that the stolen credentials hackers go after won’t unlock their targets and give them access. These passive systems are invisible to hackers and customers alike, disarming them and even more – still providing good customers a VIP experience. Now who has the power?
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