Criminal psychologists have known for a long time that motive is the most important thing to understand or work out if anyone wishes to understand not the “how” of crimebut the “why”. And naturally, understanding the why of crime is a good first step to doing something about it.
This is a theory that can be applied to all forms of crime – with cybercrime and hacking being no different. Hackers are, essentially, thieves and data is their loot. Therefore, we might ask the question what on earth do hackers actually want to do with your data?
For anyone concerned about cybercrime, understanding what drives hackers is an important first step. Of course, actually putting measures in place to protect sensitive data (the theft of which can easily sink a company) usually only comes after the relevant security measures are put in place. If you don’t yet have firewalls, edge protection, anti-virus software and other forms of cybersecurity, this is certainly something to attend to post haste.
It is helpful to learn a bit about what drives the criminalsas this is essential for ascertaining how at-risk your company is. Hillstone Networks, specialists in cybersecurity, say that far too few companies are concerned with the why of cybercrime.
Like most crime, cybercrime (potentially) pays. And it pays because data is valuable. The most obvious examples here are things like bank details and log in information, of course. But these areby no meansthe only ways that stealing data can pay.
Think about how Facebook makes its money.You do not give them your bank details (the service is free). They take instead data concerning your habits and preferences and sell this to advertisers – or the opportunity to advertise on their platform. This type of targeted data marketing is very valuable for businesses. Whereas Facebook use is a sort of deal – a free service for the use of your (not overly sensitive) data – the cyber criminals give you nothing in return, and they don’t ask for your permission.
So, one why of cybercrime is a story as old as the hills – money.
But things can get more interesting than that, and there are some criminal behaviors and motives that are quite unique to cybercrime. Here follows further whys.
Because They Can
Yes, really. If you think about a thief who steals property in the real world, it is quite an undertaking and, very often, done in times of desperation and with the promise of financial reward. Cyber criminals are different.They are unlikely to be steeped in a world of violence, and they are often computer experts who simply want to the thrill of using their skills to hack. After all, they are sitting in a room using a computer when they do it – not driving a getaway car!
Related to the last motive is the lure of the challenge. Hackers often operate in communities, and they can be competitive. So you’ve recently installed an AI-controlled firewall – what a reputation a small-time hacker would garner if they could break past that.
Online, there is no need for plastic surgery or fake beards to steal someone’s identity. All it takes is login details and perhaps a photograph. The gains from impersonating others online are obvious, and personal data is often needed to pull it off.
As these motives show, cybercriminals are very much their own breed, with their own motives (while, of course, still incorporating financial gain). The world of cybercrime bears some stark differences with traditional crime, just as cybersecurity does from traditional security.