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Most people associate hacking with dubious behavior, but a recent report suggests the keepers of the Web’s underbelly are acting more legitimate and are even offering up services like customer support.
According to the 2016 Underground Hacker Markets Annual Report filed by Dell’s SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU), a marketplace has emerged among hackers for full-service offerings as a means of scoring repeat customers.
“Vendors are guaranteeing their availability with posted hours and profiles with details on their level of professionalism, experience, tools they utilize, and most importantly their honesty,” the report states.
The SecureWorks CTU believes that the underground industry for hacking and other illegal services is only growing, and part of that growth has led to an effort to legitimize offerings. Competition has driven service providers at the underground marketplaces to start offering new services and lower prices.
Prices for a variety of sketchy products were also laid out by SecureWorks. The researchers reported finding counterfeit driver’s licenses for a variety of countries, including the United States, starting at $173; distributed denial-of-service attacks for $5 an hour; ATM skimmers for $400; and online tutorials and do-it-yourself guides for other devious acts priced at around $20.
Much of the information provided by the report isn’t necessarily revelatory. In fact botnet-for-hire sites have been around for several years and hackers have even tried their hands at the on-demand economy, placing bids to meet the needs of customers rather than having the customers come to them with the short-lived Hacker’s List (which has since shifted to an “ethical hacker” service).
But it’s valuable information for anyone who may find themselves up against the types of resources that hackers and malicious actors are now offering. It’s probably also good to know if you’re a potential customer and were hoping you could schedule a Genius bar appointment with your hired black hat.
AJ Dellinger is a seasoned technology writer whose work has appeared in Digital Trends, International Business Times, and Newsweek. In 2018, he joined Gizmodo as the nights and weekend editor.