The Motivations of a Hacker

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Welcome to the future. Businesses that have successfully embraced the internet are thriving as never before. On the flipside, however, the age of the internet has brought its own cybernetic plague; the hacker.
Make no mistake; while some people romanticize the hacker as a new-age freedom fighter that defends the rights of the individual, the truth is that many hackers are out to make a buck out of honest people’s toil, so let’s talk about hackers and what makes them tick.

Hackers have four main motivations:

  1. financial gain: the most pervasive motive, and one that takes the lion’s share of hacking activities worldwide, this activity takes many forms and affects a variety of victims ranging from multinationals to – most commonly – small businesses. Hackers vary their attacks according to the available targets and the level of resistance that they encounter. Like any predatory criminal, this kind of hacker tends to favor targets that seem vulnerable. It’s far more profitable and less time consuming to attack a dozen small businesses with deficient IT security than to try to take on one well-protected enterprise with an IT team.
  2. Espionage: less common, but a motivation that keeps some very talented individuals busy. These tend to be highly skilled hackers supported by powerful entities that guide their efforts from afar, such as states and, in some cases, multinationals that seek an advantage over competitors through learning trade/state secrets or quarterly figures, for example.
  3. F.I.G. – Fun, ideology, and grudge. Some hackers wish to hurt businesses to make a point, just because they can, or as a form of payback for a real or perceived slight.
  4. Accidents: the least common kind of hack, these originate as a result of errors or accidents. Once an employee is in a restricted or confidential area of the system, they can then wreak havoc on the business, whether as an opportunist or, again, by accident.

Whatever motivation the hacker has for targeting a victim, one way to avoid becoming a target is to avoid complacency. Be prepared. Most hackers aren’t the criminal masterminds the big screen tends to show, but rather middling IT professionals that are good at exploiting weakness. Cybernetic bullies look for an easy mark, and, as is the case with all bullies, are likely to back off the moment they sense resistance and strength.

Having an up-to-date and well-defended online presence is a must to avoid falling victim to hackers’ antics. Give us a call, and let us show you what we can do to help keep you safe.

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