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Who’s hacking your network?

Jan 03, 20173 mins
CyberattacksCybercrimeData Breach

Diary of data breaches reveals who's hacking.

02 hacker
Credit: Thinkstock

The cybercrime rate’s going up, up, up, up, up. Cybercrime damages were predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015, according to a recent CSO story.

So, who’s committing the the hacks? 

Hackers have morphed from the lone wolf wearing a hoodie and sitting behind a computer — to a garden variety of cyber intruders and perpetrators wearing anything from T-shirts and flip-flops, to dark suits and wing-tips, to military garb, according to Cybersecurity Ventures’ annual cybercrime report. (Disclaimer: Steve Morgan is CEO and founder of Cybersecurity Ventures.) A high-level breakdown of the various hacker types:

Hacktivists (Hacker-Activists) are motivated to deface and harm websites, blogs and other digital media — and launch DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against organizations they are opposed to.

[ ALSO ON CSO: The worst people you meet doing IT security ]

Cyber-Insiders are employees (or contractors, others with ‘inside’ access) who hack into internal systems and data belonging to their employers.

Cyber-Gangs are groups of hackers who are sponsored and managed by criminal organizations, and perpetrate illegal hacking for stealing large sums of money, drug trafficking, and other crimes.

Cyber-Spies (often sponsored by hostile governments) commit espionage through digital surveillance, and theft of confidential data including government and trade secrets, intellectual property belonging to corporations, academia, medical institutions, and other.

Cyber-Terrorists use technology to commit cyber-attacks which harm people, places and things.

Cyber-War Fighters belong to nations who engage in cyber warfare, using technology as their weaponry.

Cyber-Criminals are the broadest category and may refer to any of the above, but can be thought of as solo or group hackers who use technology and employ social engineering against organizations and individuals for financial gain, notoriety, or both.

Another way to look at who’s hacking is to sift through the data breach diary covering cyber-attacks over the past 90 days. There are reports of cybercriminal activities carried out by Chinese citizens, Russian hacking groups, a U.S. Navy contractor, a 17-year-old boy in the U.K., an imposter in New Zealand, a Russian citizen who’s been pursued by the FBI, and many others.

A careful read through each one of the dozens of cyber intrusions portrays a large array of bad guys and girls.

A hacker has long been known as a person who uses computers (and digital devices) to gain unauthorized access to data. That definition has remained the same, but now the crooks come in all shapes and sizes.

So, be on the look out. The people you least suspect may be the very ones that are hacking your network.


Steve Morgan is the founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures and editor in chief of the Cybersecurity Market Report. The Cybersecurity Market Report is published quarterly and covers the business of cybersecurity, including global market sizing and industry forecasts from consolidated research by IT analyst firms, emerging trends, employment, the federal sector, hot companies to watch, notable M&A, investment and IPO activity, and more.

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