From the moment communication systems could connect through digital means, hackers have been exploiting those connections. Defined loosely as anyone who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to technology and/or data, hackers are cybercriminals. And their cybercrimes are projected to cost the world upwards of $2 trillion a year as soon as 2019.1
Needless to say, stopping hackers is a big priority for businesses, governments, institutions, and anyone else who uses internet accessible technology. And one of the keys to stopping these criminals is to understand why they’re committing crimes in the first place.
The many reasons hackers choose to hack include:
To make money: Hackers who steal data—particularly bank account and credit card information—can sell that data for money.
To spy: Infiltrating databases can give hackers access to protected information they can sell or use to gain a geopolitical advantage (in the case of government espionage) or a competitive advantage (in the case of corporate espionage).
To spam: Some hackers just want to (illegally) promote a product or service and do so by filling a web browser with ads or taking over e-mail or social media accounts to send spam.
To control: Some of the most devastating cyberattacks occur when hackers take partial or full control of a computer system or network.
To disrupt: Hackers looking to make a political point or disrupt the operations of a geopolitical or business rival can use distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to overwhelm websites and/or networks, effectively shutting them down.
To test: Some hackers aren’t criminals and are instead hired to use their hacking skills to test a network’s security.
To have fun: Some hackers hack just because they enjoy the challenge.
Every hacker has his or her own reason for hacking. Our article “What Motivates Hackers?” goes into those reasons in greater detail. By reading it—and studying other resources on hackers—you can gain a better understanding of how varied hackers can be and how complex the cybercrime problem is. In fact, the problem is so complex, many who want to address it are opting for advanced degrees in the IT field, such as the MS in Information Technology or the Doctor of Information Technology degree programs at Walden University.