Hacking as a service

Hacking as a Service: The dark side of corporate sabotage

How companies are using hackers to stay ahead of their competitors

Sabotage is a deliberate action or omission designed to undermine an organization’s productivity, effectiveness, or security. Sabotage can be committed by individuals within an organization, as well as by external adversaries.

Some businesses engage illicit hackers to break into their competitors’ systems and steal information to cause widespread disruption through ransomware or distributed denial of service (DDoS). This is not only unethical, but also a crime and, can also be a very costly endeavour for the attacking company. Companies who hire hackers whether for good reasons or bad are walking a tightrope.

There are two main types of hackers: white hat and black hat. White hat hackers are ethical hackers who use their skills to improve computer security. Black hat hackers, on the other hand, use their skills for malicious purposes. Some companies may hire hackers to launch attacks on their own systems in order to test their security defences. This can be an expensive exercise, but it can enable an organization to identify and address vulnerabilities in its systems before they are exploited by malicious parties or rivals.

It has recently been reported that some employees of a cybersecurity consulting firm were hired as hackers in order to obtain sensitive information about their competition. This is a concerning development, as it shows that even large and well-respected companies can be vulnerable to tempting, albeit, illegal practices of hiring black hat hackers. These hackers have extensive internal knowledge of the target organization’s network and infrastructure. They can easily exploit system vulnerabilities to achieve their goals. Monitoring the activities of these high-risk employees becomes crucial.

There has been a recent increase in the number of hacking services that are available to the general public. This is mostly due to the increasing number of people who are working remotely. Hacking services are now offered by a variety of different providers, and they are often very affordable.

Such hacking services are offered at the back of information available on the dark web. Hackers access the dark web to buy and sell stolen credentials, and they also use it to find vulnerabilities in companies’ systems that they can exploit. The market for Hacking-as-a-Service is robust and expanding with new offerings. The capacity of amateur as well as seasoned hackers to launch advanced attacks quickly has expanded the number of threats that businesses must contend with. By using the dark web, hackers can stay anonymous while they conduct their attacks, which makes it difficult for companies to track them down and stop them.

Furthermore, some businesses may use hacking to get insights into new technology or to learn about forthcoming innovations from competitors. This can be accomplished by reverse engineering solutions or analysing the source code of applications offered by other companies. This allows a company to obtain a greater understanding of how its competitors operate and what they are working on, giving them an unfair advantage. 

Some companies may hire hackers to perform denial-of-service attacks on their competitors’ websites or networks to disable them and make it difficult or almost impossible for them to do business. This type of attack can be very costly and may even result in legal action being taken against the company that launched the attack. 

As Cybersecurity evolves, the demand for technical talent has grown exponentially, for both constructive and destructive work. It has become easier for Cybersecurity professionals to take up independent assignments in parallel to their regular job and earn lucrative money by offering hacking services to companies and individuals. Consequently, employers will have to put sufficient controls and technologies to monitor the activities of capable technical staff. 

In order to protect themselves against the risk of hiring hackers, companies need to ensure that they have a robust hiring process in place. This should involve background and reference checks, as well as limiting remote work and deploying monitoring technologies. Additionally, firms that are vulnerable to such intrusions will need to review and enhance their defences against digital sabotage. 

The article has been written by Amit Jaju, Senior Managing Director at Ankura Consulting Group (India)

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