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Results of a survey conducted at this year’s Black Hat 2014 hacking conference in Las Vegas recently revealed the main drivers behind attackers and who they primarily target in attempts to compromise valuable data.

The results showed the greatest risk is bared by contractors and IT administrators, with about 40 percent of respondents claiming they would likely target contractors and 30 percent aiming to hack IT administrators.

Black Hat 2014 Hacker Survey

These type of employees within a company are often capable of directly accessing servers and systems home to loads of sensitive data, therefore, increasing their value to attackers.

“Once an attacker gains control of login credentials, they can swiftly compromise systems and gain control over the network,” said security firm Thycotic, who performed the survey.

“Intruders can scan systems for personally identifiable information, which is even more valuable to many hackers than credit card numbers of login credentials, because they can be sold on the black market and used repeatedly to create fake bank accounts or even file false tax returns.”

Interestingly enough, Thycotic also found the most common motivator of a hacker is simply just “for the thrill of it.” Only 19 percent of respondents actually look for financial gain from their hacking efforts, while nearly 30 percent seek “moral compass” or “social consciousness.”

Black Hat 2014 Hacker Survey

“Contrary to a majority of the news stories we read about ransomware and other forms of cyber blackmail, more than half of hackers who responded are simply curious, bored, or want to test out their abilities,” said Thycotic.

Lastly, an overwhelming majority of hackers (86 percent) surveyed believe they can infiltrate systems without getting caught, making it easier for them to carry on with their hacking activities.

Hackers are now more sophisticated than ever, benefiting from a variety of resources at their disposal and increasing the attacks they are capable of performing.

“The rate in which attacks are performed vastly outweigh how closely systems are monitored,” said Thycotic, allowing hackers to continue to be successful without adding much risk.

Results from the survey were gathered from 127 self-identified “black hat” hackers attending the conference this year.

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Tripwire University
  • John

    I was just thinking the other day that hacking was now more about organised crime than anything else these days. Looks like I was wrong. But I do find it interesting that, in your motivation graphic, 29% of hackers are in it for Moral Compass reasons.

    I assume this is part of the Anonymous/Occupy crowd. Wouldn’t these hackers be less random though? They’d be looking to hack specific organisations that offended them, rather than getting into some random persons Facebook account? Is that a better thing, or scarier?

  • 51% of the hackers hack accounts just for fun! Phew!