CSO spotlight: Dark web

Booming dark web gig economy is a rising threat

Experts seen a sharp increase in help-wanted ads for black hat hackers-for-hire. Here's what they are targeting and how to respond to the threat.

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“I need a site hacker for $2,000,” “Break this site for $10K,” “Can you collect information from our competitors’ websites?” or “Can you delete reviews? Budget $300.”

Posts like these, in which individuals try to hire black hats, have flooded some of the most active hacking forums on the dark web. Most such messages are about attacking websites, buying and selling customer databases, or gaining access to corporate web resources. Most people want to buy, but a few also sell. Both new and experienced cyber criminals advertise what they can offer, revealing their expertise and their willingness to break the law.

Researchers at security company Positive Technologies analyzed the top ten most notorious forums on the dark web, and said that, in the past year, they have seen an increase in posts like these. More than eight million users are registered on these forums and have published over 80 million messages in total. 

“We looked at hacking services that would present a threat to the security of corporate websites or web applications,” Vadim Solovyev, senior information security analyst, says. “We have noticed a surge of interest in website hacking.”

Roman Sannikov, director at Insikt Group, Recorded Future, says that his company also noticed an increase in such activities on the dark web. It started even before the pandemic, but it further intensified as more employees switched to working remotely.

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