If you own or operate a business, a cyberattack is a common concern. You should be concerned. Hackers represent one of the most serious threats out there for any small business owner all the way up to a corporate conglomerate. A single hacker with the right know-how can mine your customer data, steal trade secrets, even shut down your entire operation.
Here’s the thing, though: you don’t want to simply throw money at the problem. As industry leaders Feroot CX Security and Privacy point out, not all hackers have your business in their sights. One type of hacker may represent an enormous threat to a restaurant chain but pose little to no threat to an educational technology firm. Another might be a problem for the airline industry but not for retailers.
When you know the different types of hackers out there, you can target your efforts towards the ones that are dangerous to you. Not only will this save you money, but it will make your security strategies more effective.
- Financial bandits: There’s nothing complicated about these hackers. They’re after money, and they’ll use any scheme they can think of to get it. That might include anything from installing ransomware on your devices to issuing fake invoices to your customers.
- Cryptojackers: Not every hacker is looking for cold hard cash, though, at least not directly. Mining cryptocurrency has become the hot new way to make an easy buck. However, mining isn’t lucrative if you have to pay for the energy and computing power necessary to do it. Cryptojackers hack into your system and use your energy and computing power.
- Corporate spies: Many of these hackers are after your intellectual property—your design for a new umbrella, or the computer code you wrote for the next great app. Others are looking for dirty secrets in your company files that they can sell to your competitors.
- Hacktivists: Hacktivists see themselves as Robin Hoods, fighting to protect the “little guy” from “evil” corporations. For the most part, they are looking to take down companies they disagree with ideologically.
- Cybersoldiers: These days, it’s not just thieves in the hacking game. Nation-states employ hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hackers to attack their enemies. Often these enemies are other countries, but sometimes they are companies. North Korea hacked into Sony Pictures simply because it didn’t like a movie Sony had produced.
- Hacking collectives: A bit like cybersoldiers, the members of a hacking collective work together to take down corporations and even whole countries. The difference is, they aren’t driven by nationalism. They do their work for the highest bidders.
- Botnet masters: These hackers can be variations on the other types of hackers, only, their method is unique. Botnet masters deploy as many malware bots as they can on computers and digital devices all over the world. Those bots then lie in wait until the masters are ready to use them to create havoc in the global system.
- Gaming hackers: Competitive gaming has become almost as big as traditional sports like football and baseball. Serious gamers will do almost anything to win, including hacking games to give themselves an advantage.
- Adware spammers: Adware spammers try to infect computers with malware that will redirect internet traffic to advertising sites. Adware is annoying enough if you happen to get infected, but some legitimate companies have been tricked by marketing companies into distributing adware themselves. A mistake like that can cost money in lawsuits to say nothing of lost customers.
- Thrill hackers: Many hackers aren’t interested in getting something tangible for their efforts at all. Instead, they regard hacking as a game, a test of skill. The popular challenge these days is to hack into hardware and turn it into a new device. One challenge on a popular kids’ hacking site asks users to hack microcontrollers to create musical instruments.
As this list demonstrates, not every hacker is a “black hat” or bad actor. So-called white-hat hackers, for instance, try to find vulnerabilities in existing networks so those holes can be patched. Red hat hackers try to find black hat hackers and take them down before they can do any harm.
Before you rush out and hire security specialists to hack-proof your system, take the time to think about the several different types of hackers and what motivates them. Then, marshal your resources to defend against the ones that really are out to get you and your customers.