A Look at the Business of Hackers-for-Hire Threat Actors

Expert cybercriminal gaining illegal access to computer network in data center

It has become remarkably easy for hire a hacker to carry out their tasks on the web today.  Most hackers no longer have to hide themselves in the dark recesses of the web to take advantage of people any longer; they can be found right in plain sight on social media and forums, professionally advertised on their websites, or even approach you anonymously via social media and forums.

Today, cybercrime has entered a new era, where people no longer steal for the thrill of it. In order to earn business from online criminals, they carry out illegal cyber activities in small groups or individually as well as sell offensive services such as spyware as a service and commercial cybersecurity.

Who are Hackers-for-Hire?

Hackers-for-hire are secret cyber experts or groups that specialize in infiltrating organizations for the purpose of obtaining intelligence. Their services are offered to people who find it difficult to break into an organization for a variety of reasons, such as lack of skills or an inability to do so independently.

Hackers are willing to get involved in financial and legal disputes as long as they can profit financially from stealing a person’s private email during divorce, separation, or child custody proceedings.

Social media can be used to spread false information and engage in malicious behavior (not just political).

A hacker-for-hire group would attempt to access bank accounts so they could execute data breaches and sell them on the black market for a percentage.

Hackers-for-Hire Emerge as A Threat

A hacker-for-hire has been gaining unprecedented access to computer networks since 2020, posing as both hackers and users contracted to carry out various tasks for them. COVID-19, for instance, was viewed as a big threat because it allowed hackers to use computers via clever public communication channels like Twitter and email– something we might see more often in the future.

If you have valuable assets and others wish to take them from you, you should expect to be attacked.

How Hack-For-Hire Operations Work

We can break down the entire surveillance chain into three phases. The first phase involves reconnaissance, where hackers will gather as much information as possible about their target’s company or business by using various tools and techniques. This informative phase will then inform phase 2, where hackers will carry out attacks to damage their target.

Here’s how it works:

1. Reconnaissance

When cyber hackers begin to profile their targets silently during the reconnaissance stage, they act as information gatherers and data miners. In order to do this, they collect information about them from publicly available sources like blogs, social media, knowledge management platforms like Wikipedia and Wikidata, news media, and forums. It is also possible to scrape dark websites in order to achieve this.

2. Engagement

By using social engineering, an attacker attempts to gain your trust and use that as a means to trick you into sharing confidential information during the Engagement phase. It is the attacker’s goal to get you to click on a “special link” or download a file they claim will provide you with more information by entitling you to click on it. An individual can be tricked, deceived, or even blackmailed by social engineering. By talking to the people you are after information from, you can eventually gain access or manipulate them to answer your questions.

3. Exploitation

Mobile phones and computers are the primary targets of hackers during the exploitation stage.

When hackers take advantage of keyloggers and phishing websites, they can access personal data on a victim’s computer or phone. Passwords, cookies, access tokens, photos, videos, messages, and more can be stolen through these elements. Even without your knowledge, they may be able to activate your cell phone’s microphone or computer’s camera.

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