5 Reasons Why Cyber Criminals Attack

Cyber attacks and data breaches can cause detrimental effects to organisations, costing brands hefty fines and ultimately their reputation. But who really are the people behind the attacks and why do they do it?

1. Disgruntled Employees

Read Write Web claim that employees (not hackers) are the biggest threat to security. This is backed up by a survey conducted by Ponemon Institute, which stated that 59% of ex-employees use their insider information to “get a new job, start their own business or for revenge“. They can steal data simply by transmitting data files over the internet, photocopying and distributing documents, and using their knowledge they have gained  whilst working for a company.

2. Publicity

Some hackers (whether they are individuals or members of a group) will target big branded website, knowing that they’ll cause huge amounts of publicity if they can get away with it. Attacks on retailers, police forces and government websites have led to the recognition of hacker groups such as Lulzsec and Anonymous who can now lay their claim to attacking Sony, NHS, CIA and the US Senate websites, amongst many others.

3. Power

Cyber criminals look for a weakness within a target’s people, system, or network, and then extract and transmit the data to other hackers. This may include conducting research on the company’s employees and infrastructure. Many hackers are hard to trace, which means that the majority get away with defacing websites and stealing data. The power hackers have, knowing that they are untraceable, and unstoppable is an attraction for many, encouraging them to repeatedly attack.

4. Revenge

This is linked closely to the first point of disgruntled employees. Many hackers will attack a website if they have reason to be annoyed with the organisation or brand. Either for political reasons, beliefs, or personal grudges, hackers can use cyber attacks as a way of getting their voices heard.

5. Freedom

Hacker culls such as Anonymous claim that they fight for freedom and that all the work they do is to stop people controlling them. However, there is some confusion as to what Anonymous is all about. The cull profess that they hack as a way of fighting for freedom, and yet they steal other people’s data which removes the anonymity of innocent people. This confusion has led to several hackers dropping out of Anonymous.


Contrary to popular belief, money is not in this list of reasons as to why cyber criminals attack. Obviously, there is money to be made in hacking, but that is not where the bulk of money lies. What does cost money though, is the damage that it causes. A recent study by Symantec shows that cybercrime costs $388 billion a year ($100 billion more than the global black market of marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined). Former U.S National Security Agency employee, Thomas Parenty, compared this to the Cold War; “the amount of money spies got paid to give away state secrets was absolutely inconsequential compared to the cost of the damage”. This reflects the financial situation of hacking; hackers earn peanuts compared to the costs incurred by the victims.

To understand more about cyber crime, read  the latest CyberWar, CyberTerror, CyberCrime which gives an succinct analysis of cyber crime.

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One Response

  1. Gyp the Cat 12th October 2011