If you were an aspiring hacker, would you respond to a help-wanted ad seeking bilingual virus writers, or would you think it a hoax and carry on your merry hacking way? There is, in fact, a demand for hackers who speak different languages, especially Mandarin, Russian and Portuguese, and positions are being advertised. They are just not advertised in the classified section of your local newspaper.
Ambitious hackers are no longer satisfied with targeting the English speaking market. They want to branch out internationally to tap into the lucrative market of emerging economies. Specifically, they want to exploit online gaming sites in China, peer-to-peer network applications in Japan and banks in Brazil. These countries are all the more vulnerable because their law enforcement agencies don’t have the sophistication to counter Internet crime. Hackers are more likely to get away with crime in Brazil than they are in the US or Europe.
Hackers have learnt a lot while focusing on the English market. They know what is needed to make a success of a campaign, which is why they are now advertising positions on underground Internet channels. The minimum requirements are set quite high. They want creative virus writers with the ability to create both grammatically correct and persuasive web pages and spam emails.
They want to appear as professional and legitimate as possible so that people will download viruses and disclose their personal details without hesitation.
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Internet criminals have seen the benefit in using increasingly sophisticated hacking methods. As a result they are willing to bear the costs of hiring talented writers so that they can make even more money when their endeavours succeed.
This new turn towards professionalism is causing sleepless nights for all major Internet players. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft now have to develop even more advanced security measures to protect their international interests. They also have to rely on the capability of local authorities to clamp down on Internet crime and introduce harsher penalties for transgressors.
With hackers looking inwards to hunt out and develop rising stars, and with their increasingly business-like approach to cyber crime, will we see the rise of cartels and turf wars as they battle for supremacy? The concept is an interesting one, and would make for a fascinating anthropological study if it weren’t so incredibly frightening.