News & Articles

Inside the Mind of a Hacker

As technology advances, the world we live in has become more connected than ever before. The expanse of our cyberspace has hugely affected the way we live, as well as the way we operate within our respective industries.

As exciting as this development may be, it has expanded the playing field for cybercriminals, allowing them even more opportunities to breach business data. Many SMEs believe they are safer from cyber-attacks than larger organisations, as they underestimate the value of their data, but the reality is businesses of all sizes are at risk, especially those that lack sufficient cyber security.


Copy of untitled (19)What we want to know is – what motivates the hacker?

What journey leads to using technological skills to exploit the vulnerable? Is it simply the money they can earn, or is there something deeper that keeps them at the keyboard?


The main thing to understand from the world of cybercrime is that hacking is more of a mindset rather than simply an activity or career. Hackers understand and speak a language that the rest of the world simply does not. They comprehend complex systems and code that allows them to be superior in digital circumstances, and as these digital circumstances bleed into various corporate industries, their territory grows.

A significant perk of the job is the financial perks. Hacking into unsophisticated security systems is easy money. The underestimation of cybercrime, and lack of security, has meant that many SMEs particularly are targets for this reason. With the vast quantity of ‘easy’ targets at a hacker’s disposal, a cybercriminal can earn an impressive amount without putting in much effort.

However, there are various other reasons an individual may turn to hacking. One noticeable, and ethically ambiguous, motivation is political beliefs, developing into what is referred to as a ‘hacktivist’. Hacktivists actions include denial of service attacks, defacement of websites and doxing attacks. Famous examples of hacktivism include Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who has released a plethora of state and corporate secrets, and Aaron Swartz, who released legal documents and scholarship.  There is much debate around the ethics of hacktivism, but it is clear that these motivations differ from the strictly financial gain, as the attack is performed with a focussed intention of seeking justice.


A contrasting motivation for hackers is the challenge.

Specifically, the challenge of accessing complex systems and taking them apart. Every data breach is a ‘trophy’ at someone else’s expense. As digital systems evolve, especially remote services, there is a new test for hackers – a new company to conquer and achievement to be made. Furthermore, achievements lead to peer recognition. It is extremely difficult to stand out in a saturated cyber security market. Unfortunately, this means that some turn to illegal means to prove their skills at the expense of business breaches.

Thankfully, a lot of organisations are attempting to channel this motivation and energy for the greater good, by hiring ‘ethical hackers’ or ‘bug bounty hunters’. These individuals are paid to try and hack digital systems, to find holes in their cyber security. For those gifted with the hacking mindset, this career will hopefully encourage more people to put on a white hat and face digital challenges with the positive intention of helping others.


However, there is still a lot of progress to be made in the world of cyber security. The fact that there are approximately 700,000 open position in the cyber security industry demonstrates that there is a lack of highly-skilled individuals on the ‘good’ side of the fight. This means the onus is on business owners to protect themselves, by arming themselves with knowledge and sufficient security.

The old saying goes that ‘prevention is better than cure’ but it is also true that ‘protection is better than cure’ in the world of cyber security.  Businesses should consider cover from an insurance policy, in the case that they are breached. At The Insurance Octopus, we find SMEs a cyber insurance policy that is tailored to your business, with advisors that understand your profession and associated risks.

If you’d like to read more about cyber security and how to protect your business, you can find a plethora of resources here.


Would you like to become more cyber secure?

Schedule a discovery call today with one of our industry experts. Our team will be able to provide recommendations that will get you where you need to be!