Hackers: stereotypical or organised?

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How do we see hackers? Do we see them as pyjama clad, overweight, unshaven nerds sitting in their mother’s basement? Or as highly organised and highly motivated groups or gangs?

The hacker stereotype is almost certainly a product of 80’s and 90’s movies. Revenge of the Nerds, Hackers, and even more recent movies like Live Free or Die Hard (a modern classic), represent hackers as overweight, scruffy geeks who still live with their mother’s; or socially inept, high school nerds.

These walking stereotypes then throw out terms like “hack the mainframe” with sickening regularity, and type 5000 words a minute into screens that look like something from the Matrix.


Phishing trip


The truth is that one basement dwelling nerd really couldn't do that much alone. It takes a large number of resources to even produce a phishing campaign.

If you wanted to send out 1 million phishing emails (which is a fraction of the actual number of dodgy emails sent per day), assuming that you aren't specifically targeting people, then you are still going to need a powerful mail server to push those emails out.

You then have to deal with the push back, process the successful attempts, all whilst continuing to send out more emails. Remember that resources like this don’t come cheap. That means that cyber-criminals get serious funding.


The true face of cyber crime


The truth about modern cyber-crime and cyber-criminals is that they are highly motivated, highly organised, highly intelligent and very well-funded.

I mentioned phishing before but large scale information theft is also rampant. Look at the huge JP Morgan breach, the home depot breach earlier this year, Shellshock being exploited, or any of the other massive data breaches over the past few years.

Even the nude celebrity photos leaked online weren't the work of one person.

Although public opinion and perspective is gradually changing, the average Joe or Joanna still doesn't see themselves as a target: this certainly isn't true.