What is a Modern Hacker?

If you hear the term ‘hacker’ and this is what you picture:


Your definition is as outdated as many business’s cybersecurity.

Hacking has evolved far beyond the teen in his basement image from movies and popular culture. It’s no longer one guy furiously typing with multiple monitors flashing numbers and letters.  It’s just not that hard for hackers to get into networks these days.  In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 60% of the time, an unwitting employee leads the hackers right in.

That’s why it’s important for all employees at your business, from the CEO, to the head of IT, to a temp brought in for seasonal work, to understand how hacking has evolved.  Small and midsized businesses are more at risk today than ever before.

Here are three characteristics of a modern hacker you need to know:

Modern Hackers are sophisticated

As we mentioned, the term hacker no longer applies only to the single criminal working from a basement.  Hacking has become an organized, sophisticated operation that’s adopted many of the same corporate strategies your workplace employs.

These strategies allow even a novice hacker to cause significant damage both to your finances and your reputation.  One of most devastating tools they are employing is ransomware as a service.  Basically, higher level hackers sell licenses for software.  Novice hackers can then purchase these kits and send them to victims. Once they’ve tricked the victim into clicking, the software freezes the computer or server until the company pays a ransom (like the Mecklenburg County Ransomware attack).

Ransomware as a service also offers a helpdesk.  It works just like any helpdesk you and your employees are familiar with – where the novice hackers can call, IM or email if there are issues getting the ransomware to work.

Because of these tools, hackers are able to exponentially multiply the reach and number of attacks.  According to Fortune, attackers were able to attempt to penetrate one network more than 100,000 times over seven months.

There are also a variety of tools readily available on the Internet, even from retailers like Amazon, that hackers can use to trace and record keystrokes on your computer, or hack and impersonate a wireless network.

Modern Hackers are focused on people more than the computer system

While the hacker’s ultimate goal is to gain access to your server/network/customer or employee data, their focus is much more on the people at your business than you might think.  The past few years have seen the rise of Social Engineering tactics, especially in Phishing and Spear attacks.

As the amount of information about us explodes online, so does a prosperous mine from which cyber criminals can easily learn about you. They can then in turn use this information to craft emails, website ads, and even social media profiles that will lure you in with surprising ease.  Take a look at this video to see just how easily it’s done.

Modern Hackers are targeting small and mid-sized businesses at an alarming rate

Many small and midsized businesses feel they are ‘safe’ because they think they don’t have as much data, or data that could be as valuable as larger enterprises like Target or Bank of America.  To debunk that myth, we need only refer you to the fact that the hackers behind the Target breach of 2013 that affected 41 million customers gained access through a much smaller 3rd-party vendor.

To stay ahead of the modern hacker, you need to make sure you have a network that is not just modern, but future-proof. But what does that mean? And how can small and midsize businesses afford it?

The Network Team is hosting an informational event at TopGolf Charlotte to help answer those questions and more. Seating is limited, click here to reserve your spot today.

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The Network Team