The hacker labor market
Kaspersky Lab experts analyzed 200,000 job advertisements on the dark web and found that cybercrime is increasingly using the same techniques as legal businesses when looking for new employees.
Everything is like people
Cyber hacker groups are increasingly operating in the image and likeness of a traditional business and, in an attempt to attract IT professionals to their activities, promise them high salaries, paid vacations and sick days. As reported in Kaspersky Lab reportjob ads posted on dark web forums promise salaries of up to $15,000-20,000 per month.
Experts of the “Laboratory” between March 2020 and June 2022. analyzed 200,000 job ads on 155 dark web sites. In most cases, hacker groups are looking for professional software developers. This type accounts for 61% of all ads.
$20,000 was the highest salary ever offered. The top compensation for cyberattack specialists (16% of ads) was $15,000. In general, the range of average salaries offered is $1,300-4,000.
According to the graph provided by the “Laboratory”, designers (10%) took the third place in the most demanded specialties after developers and direct attackers. Next are administrators (6%), reverse engineering specialists (4%), analysts (2%) and testers (1%). Designers are paid the least. Developers are promised the most.
A third of all ads assume full employment. The same goes for flexible schedules. Paid vacation and sick leave were promised only in 8% of cases, but this already indicates that cybercrime is aware of the importance of valuable personnel.
The risks outweigh
As stated in the publication of Kaspersky Lab, the conditions offered by cybergroups may well compete with the offer of legal business, which means that they look quite attractive for IT professionals who have lost their jobs or university graduates who cannot get a job for a long time.
On the other hand, the risks still outweigh: one cannot count on the fact that cybercriminal will indisputably fulfill all the stated obligations. There is no talk of any legally formalized contracts. In addition, an IT specialist, if his criminal background is revealed, is unlikely to find a job later in the legal sector, even if he can avoid problems with the law.
The largest number of job advertisements for cybercrime on underground forums was published in the first quarter of the pandemic 2020. During this time, the legitimate IT market was undergoing powerful transformations.
The second surge occurred at the end of 2021 – beginning of 2022.
The publication of Kaspersky Lab notes that applicants are invited to take a test task to demonstrate their level of competence, for example, to encrypt a malicious DLL file within a day so that it is not seen by antiviruses. In some cases, applicants are promised to be paid for completing such tasks (up to $300 in bitcoins).
Employers also sometimes look at the applicant’s portfolio, although the key point remains his real skills.