While hacktivists are arguably the least worrisome of today’s attackers, they still have succeeded in causing havoc for many big companies and governments. Since these hacktivist’s political agendas vary widely, even small businesses can find themselves a target depending on the business they are in or partnerships they have.
2. Cyber criminals
You’re probably most familiar with the cyber criminal hacker profile, since they’ve been around longer than the other two. This group’s motive is pretty obvious; to make money using any means necessary.
Cyber criminal groups can range from a few lone actors who are just out for themselves, to big cyber crime organizations, often financed and headed by traditional criminal organizations. They are the group of hackers responsible for stealing billions of dollars from consumers and businesses each year.
These criminal attackers participate in a rich underground economy, where they buy, sell and trade attack toolkits, zero day exploit code, botnet services, and much more. They also buy and sell the private information and intellectual property they steal from victims. Lately, they’re focusing on web exploit kits, such as Blackhole, Phoenix, and Nuclear Pack, which they use to automate and simplify drive-by download attacks.
Their targets vary from small businesses and consumers, whom they attack opportunistically, to large enterprises and industry verticals, who they target with specific goals in mind. In a recent attack on the banking and credit card industry, a very organized group of cyber criminals was able to steal 45 million dollars globally from ATMs, in a highly synchronized fashion. The attack was made possible due to an initial, targeted network breach against a few banks and a payment processor company.
3. Nation states (or state-sponsored attackers)
The newest, and most concerning new threat actors are the state-sponsored cyber attackers. These are government-funded and guided attackers, ordered to launch operations from cyber espionage to intellectual property theft. These attackers have the biggest bankroll, and thus can afford to hire the best talent to create the most advanced, nefarious, and stealthy threats.
Nation state actors first appeared in the public eye during a few key cyber security incidents around 2010, including:
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