If Hackers Are So Skilled, Why Not Make $$$ w/ a Real Job?

In summary, a group of teenagers with a script managed to hack into the Federal Reserve's internal messaging system, transferring $80 million out of Bangladeshi bank accounts. The heist was apparently more sophisticated than originally thought, as the hackers were able to transfer the stolen funds to personal accounts overseas instead of to commercial accounts.
  • #1
kyphysics
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Always wondered about this.

Why not just program or do security consulting?

Those jobs are pretty good pay, right? Why do they become criminals?
 
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  • #2
By "hacker" you mean the umbrella term for people misusing their network access?

Many of them do actually have real programming jobs, they are following their criminal life as a sideline: but many are kids using bots made by other people ... the network equivalent of graffiti artists.
So you may as well be asking "if graffiti artists are so good, why not make loads of money as a real artist?"
Or maybe: if meth lab chemists are such good scientists, why not make loads of money as an industrial chemist rather than be criminals?

Then there is the issue: major hackers are criminals who are making lots of money off botnets and various scams, or they are employed by people who are making all that money. They do it because they are making more money with less effort than they would security consulting.

Contrary to what movies and TV tell you, the average "hacker" is not some wiz programmer turning their skills to evil for the lulz.
 
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  • #3
Being a criminal is typically easier.
 
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  • #4
kyphysics said:
Why not just program or do security consulting?
Who says they don't do both?

Those jobs are pretty good pay, right? Why do they become criminals?

Because http://www.pcworld.com/article/2082204/crime-pays-very-well-cryptolocker-grosses-up-to-30-million-in-ransom.html?
Or because it's not about money, a lot of hacking seems to be done out of a sense of social justice (rightly or wrongly), like the Panama papers or the upcoming Wikileak that'll (supposedly) incriminate Hillary Clinton.
 
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  • #5
Oh ... and being highly skilled does not guarantee you a high paying job.
Highly skilled and no job does guarantee you lots of free time though...
 
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  • #6
Cons and criminals working in groups. A random group of teens could be considered to have a collective high-skill set that is comparable to that of one hacker. Being one hacker implies at least an average intelligence. These people that have tried to persuade me over the phone (in broken english) to let them upgrade my PC are off their rockers.
 
  • #7
kyphysics said:
Always wondered about this.

Why not just program or do security consulting?

Those jobs are pretty good pay, right? Why do they become criminals?
You probably missed this story:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/philipp...hacking-of-bangladesh-bank-account-1457887306

A group of hackers managed to transfer more than $80 million from Bangladeshi accounts held at the US Federal Reserve to other bank accounts in the Philippines and at least one account in Sri Lanka. Almost $1 billion in other attempted transfers were blocked by the Fed's security system.

The hackers used an internal messaging system of the Fed to make the transfers, and presented the correct passwords and authentication codes. Apparently what tripped the hackers up was that they were transferring the stolen funds to personal accounts overseas, rather than to commercial accounts.

Even getting away with only $80 million tax-free would be quite a coup. :wink:
 
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  • #8
Back in college a friend of mine was talking about comic books. He asked, "Why doesn't the bad guy who makes the superweapon sell it to the government?"
 
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  • #9
kyphysics said:
Why not just program or do security consulting?
Those jobs are pretty good pay, right? Why do they become criminals?
You think governments around the world do not "hack" into foreign country systems.
Lawful employment is available.
 
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  • #11
SteamKing said:
The hackers used an internal messaging system of the Fed to make the transfers, and presented the correct passwords and authentication codes. Apparently what tripped the hackers up was that they were transferring the stolen funds to personal accounts overseas, rather than to commercial accounts.
I read recently, (Don't remember site but it was a "Mainstream" news feed) that another tip off was a glaringly obvious case of misspelling one word. Interesting that someone or group was "good enough" to hack the passwords yet couldn't keep their grammar straight.
 
  • #12
1oldman2 said:
I read recently, (Don't remember site but it was a "Mainstream" news feed) that another tip off was a glaringly obvious case of misspelling one word. Interesting that someone or group was "good enough" to hack the passwords yet couldn't keep their grammar straight.
A lot of the run-of-the-mill fishing scams have this flaw, like misspelling the word "bank" or something stupid.

The Fed heist was apparently a lot more sophisticated if the hackers had access to internal security codes and passwords.
 
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  • #13
A few groups make a headlining score (or get caught doing it) and everyone thinks they can do it too ... like hearing jackpot bells in a casino.

It should probably be pointed out that the media use of "hacker" includes teenagers with a script - we used to call these script kiddies - and such like, while programmers tend to think of hackers closer to the gnu/usernet useage.
ie. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/hacker

When I studied computer science at college, the terms was used to refer to people who coded by the seat of their pants, without a plan or a diagram etc.
The implication is that the result is not good code ... as in "cobbled together". However, elsewhere the term referred to competence and an attitude of inquirey... as in "I can hack it."
 
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  • #14
russ_watters said:
Being a criminal is typically easier.

Is it that easy to steal millions of bucks and get away with it through hacking?
Simon Bridge said:
A few groups make a headlining score (or get caught doing it) and everyone thinks they can do it too ... like hearing jackpot bells in a casino.

It should probably be pointed out that the media use of "hacker" includes teenagers with a script - we used to call these script kiddies - and such like, while programmers tend to think of hackers closer to the gnu/usernet useage.
ie. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/hacker

When I studied computer science at college, the terms was used to refer to people who coded by the seat of their pants, without a plan or a diagram etc.
The implication is that the result is not good code ... as in "cobbled together". However, elsewhere the term referred to competence and an attitude of inquirey... as in "I can hack it."

What level of education would a typical hacker need, in order to hack, say, the U.S. government's information?
 
  • #15
1oldman2 said:
I read recently, (Don't remember site but it was a "Mainstream" news feed) that another tip off was a glaringly obvious case of misspelling one word. Interesting that someone or group was "good enough" to hack the passwords yet couldn't keep their grammar straight.
SteamKing said:
A lot of the run-of-the-mill fishing scams have this flaw, like misspelling the word "bank" or something stupid.
This can be done on purpose. Only a tiny fraction is stupid enough to be of value for the mail senders - they don't want to waste time with all the others who might react to a better written mail, but ultimately not reveal anything of worth.

@kyphysics: we don't give career guidance for illegal activities.
 
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1. Why do hackers choose to engage in illegal activities instead of using their skills for legitimate employment?

There are a variety of reasons why hackers may choose to engage in illegal activities. Some may have a desire for power or recognition, while others may have financial motives. Additionally, some hackers may have a distrust of authority or a rebellious nature that leads them to break laws. It is important to remember that not all hackers engage in illegal activities and many choose to use their skills for good.

2. Is it possible for hackers to use their skills for legitimate employment?

Yes, it is absolutely possible for hackers to use their skills for legitimate employment. In fact, many companies and organizations actively seek out hackers for their technical expertise and problem-solving abilities. There are also ethical hacking and cybersecurity roles that allow individuals to use their skills in a legal and beneficial way.

3. Are hackers highly skilled in other areas besides computer technology?

While hackers are typically known for their expertise in computer technology, many also have a strong understanding of other areas such as mathematics, coding, and problem-solving. In order to be successful in hacking, individuals must have a diverse skill set and the ability to think critically and creatively.

4. Can hackers make a significant amount of money through illegal activities?

It is possible for hackers to make a significant amount of money through illegal activities, but it is important to note that this is not a sustainable or ethical source of income. Many hackers who engage in illegal activities are eventually caught and face severe consequences. Additionally, there are legal and ethical ways for hackers to use their skills and earn a living.

5. How can we prevent skilled hackers from turning to illegal activities?

There is no easy solution to preventing skilled hackers from engaging in illegal activities, but there are steps that can be taken. Providing education and resources for ethical hacking and cybersecurity careers can help guide individuals towards legitimate employment opportunities. Additionally, creating a supportive and inclusive community for hackers to share their knowledge and skills can also discourage illegal activities.

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