Forget the cliché of lonely figures in hoodies crouched over laptops, feverishly bashing out lines of code. Online crime is a lucrative business, and hackers are the new Mafia.
“We have to understand our enemy,” said Mikko Hyppönnen, a self-described ‘hacker hunter’ who has been tracking down online criminals since the early 1990s. The earliest viruses were written by bored teenagers looking for a challenge, but today’s hackers are much more malicious. “What makes them different from old-school hackers is they have a motive,” said Hyppönen.
Some of the most publicised cyber attackers are by self-styled ‘hacktivists’. Hacking collectives such as the infamous Anonymous group police the internet, attacking groups and individuals that fall foul of the group’s ideology. In 2015, Anonymous publicly released the names and addresses of hundreds of people that the group alleges were members of the Ku Klux Klan.