Who are the Most Prominent Hackers and What Motivates Them?

Who are the Most Prominent Hackers and What Motivates Them?

December 22

It doesn’t seem like we can go too long without hearing of another company whose information was hacked.

I’m starting to think that names like Anonymous and LulzSec will become just as well-known as Apple and LinkedIn.

Those are two of the prominent hacking groups that named earlier this year on a list of “most notorious hacking groups.”

You might also enjoying reading an article my colleague put together on what cyber attacks were prevalent where around the world. After reading that, it kind of makes you want to question just about any email you receive.

Though individuals want that credit, it was actually not as easy to find those who work alone. And they seem to be everywhere, too. CNN reported the arrest of 90 hackers from 19 different countries in connection with malware.

The Sony hack attack is the latest in a string of hackers testing their coding strengths in an attempt to win the ultimate prize…whatever it is they want.

So what do hackers really want? That is a tough nut to crack. There are tons of articles even going back 15-20 years ago that point to so many different answers. That’s because the motivation for each hacker is different. You might remember that is what Kelly Yee, vice president of Penango, a secure webmail and encryption company, told me back in October when I interviewed her about how hackers operate.

“Black markets have become a sophisticated enterprise, and selling massive amounts of individual’s data in the black market has become the new product to steal and sell,” she said. “Nowadays, one rarely sees a waitress stealing credit card information and going to Bloomingdales’s to buy new clothes. Instead, it has become more common for an attacker to steal credit card information from Target and sell 50,000 customers’ information to the highest bidder on the black market.”

Some groups want justice, maybe like Anonymous, while an individual may be looking for some kind of street credentials or to show they can. And they are taking data, credit card information, etc., and either selling it to the highest bidder, or claiming they did it to make some sort of statement.

Chaos Computer Club, one that EFYTimes reported on, set out to prove it could steal money from a German bank to show the security system was flawed. It did and returned the money the next day.

There are actually some other positive types of hacking, I found out. Google holds regular competitions like “Pwonium” to see how easy it is to hack through security levels on Chrome.

I also found a ton of references to hackathons all over the world. I thought this one that TechCrunch did was pretty cool.

Do “black hat” hackers ever trade it in for “white hats?” That they do. One was when Kevin Mitnick was convicted in 1999 on charges he related to computer crimes. When he was arrested several years prior, he was “the most-wanted computer criminal in the United States.” He now works for the other side at Mitnick Security Consulting LLC, testing security systems around the world.

However, until there is an ironclad way of keeping information safe, it’s probably best to learn from Sony exec’s mistakes, and don’t email that complaint to your co-worker — go over to their desk and tell them. Less paper trail.

Photo credit: Charis Tsevis via Flickr