Who are These Cybercriminals?

Cybercriminals are organized, intelligent, and well-funded!

The world of cybersecurity has changed, no longer is the threat just some teenager wearing a hoodie and hiding in his basement. Today’s cybercriminals are organized, well-funded, and in business for one main reason…to get your money!

But where did it all start? It honestly started with mischievous kids! In 1981 an extremely clever ninth grader developed what some consider to be the first virus. This virus spread from network to network via floppy disk and slowly crept across the globe. The creator of the virus simply wanted to prank his friends. He installed the virus on a school computer so that it was carried from student to student on floppy disks.

On the 50th time the floppy disk was inserted into the computer a poem would appear on the computer screen bragging about the personality of the virus (called Elk Cloner) and render the computer nearly unusable. The 14-year-old creator of the virus was not looking for any financial gain or compensation but was merely a smart and mischievous kid looking to play a “prank” on the kids in his high school.

But even though cyberattacks began with this ‘mischievous kid,’ that description of the current cybercriminal has dramatically transformed over the past years. These people are no longer “smart and mischievous” kids, cyberattackers have gotten much more sophisticated and dangerous!

Cybercriminals today are some of the smartest and
the most heavily funded technologists in the world.

There are 6 major levels of cyberattackers

  1. Script kiddies are a common breed of hackers and the world of hacking basically started with them. They are teenagers or college students with some programming skills. They’re usually attacking for the fun of it and are looking for recognition from their peers! Script kiddies will use programs developed by other hackers to compromise your computer.
  2. The hacking group (a group of script kiddies) This group is a collection of script kiddies who have come together that believe they can wreak more havoc as a group than they can individually! Depending on their goals, these groups can cause serious disruption to your company’s computer network. The most well-known groups got attention because they hacked large corporations like Sony and Nintendo.
  3. Hacktivists get their name because they are most often socially or politically motivated. These groups have a cause, religion, or other purpose to their hacking and will go after other groups and companies they feel need to be exposed.
  4. Criminals; doing it for profit!
    It is important to understand the main motivation behind the malicious code hammering your firewalls, servers, and your employees. The motivation is pure and simple, its money! And cybercriminals have a lot of ways and technology at their fingers to try and steal this money. These include spam, phishing, social media, and malware.

    Cybercrime profits amount to $80-$200 billion a year!

    These cybercriminals operate under a sophisticated structure, guided by strict rules so they go undetected by the law. These groups can be a few sophisticated cyberattackers or can be part of a group of hundreds or thousands…and can even be sponsored by nation states.

  5. Enemy states like North Korea You may have read that North Korea has an entire cyberarmy whose mission is to extort money from businesses across the globe to fund their military efforts. This is real, they have State-sponsored extortion funds that will be used to support threats, missiles, and military actions. Along with North Korea, other nations have highly-trained cybercriminal groups that may unknowingly or knowingly be coerced into helping their government attack other countries to fund their efforts!
  6. Disgruntled employees Over the years there have been many stories about ”insider threats” and cybercrime that was perpetrated by disgruntled employees, terminated employees, and others inside an organization. This continues to be a problem, and businesses should have a cyber incident response plan as part of their overall cybersecurity program.