Hackers-for-Hire: Who Are They and How to Stay Protected


Cyberattacks or illegal cyber activities are becoming more frequent and malignant in the digital world. Attackers have become more competent and quicker with adapting strategies to breach data security, compromise assessment, etc. In addition, there’s also news about another kind of threat lurking nowadays, known as hackers-for-hire.  

So, who are these hackers-for-hire and how do they work? Do they have a specific target? If you fall into their targeting category, how do you protect yourself?   

Keep reading to find out all your answers. 

ALSO READ: 7 Simple iPhone Hacks That Can Save Your Time 

Who are Hackers-for-Hire? 

Hackers for hire are cyber criminals that specialize in compromising email accounts and exfiltrating data. Finally, they sell the data to people who need it.  

Some companies openly offer these services to anyone who can pay for the data. However, some keep it low-key and sell data to only a limited number of people. Here are some examples to help you understand how hackers-for-hire usually work. 

Russian Hackers-for-Hire 

The TAG team has been keeping an eye on the Russian hackers-for-hire since 2017. So far, the group has targeted NGOs, non-profit organizations, politicians and journalists along with Russian citizens and surrounding nations. The attack campaigns mainly involved the threat actors using credential phishing emails that looked similar to the target. 

Indian Hackers-for-Hire

According to TAG, Indian hackers-for-hire work with third-party private investigation services. These companies collect data when clients reach out to them and offer the exfiltrated data. The firms may also work with freelance threat actors, i.e., without any direct employment. 

The United Arab Emirates Hackers-for-Hire

The UAE hackers-for-hire group is more active in the North African and Middle East regions. The threat actors stole credentials from targets by luring them to reset the password on their Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Google accounts. For this, they used a custom phishing toolkit to automate tasks in the browser. 

Do Hackers-for-Hire Have a Specific Target? 

Yes, hackers-for-hire do target specific types of people. Their most common targets include human rights activists, political activists and journalists. Aside from them, they may also target companies, attorneys and lawyers for corporate espionage, industrial secret theft, etc.  

Lastly, they may target citizens too. For instance, when a person wants information about the ongoing affairs of their husband or spouse. 

How to Protect Yourselves From Hackers-for-Hire? 

Since hackers-for-hire mostly use email phishing, you need to increase your awareness regarding them and related fraud attempts that may happen.  

The threat actors usually don’t go further than compromising emails and exfiltrating data. It means they only use social engineering tricks and not malware. That is good news as it will be easier for you to stay protected. 

Aside from increasing your awareness of hackers-for-hire, you should also deploy multi-factor authentication for added security. Google even advises the high-risk targets to enable Google Account Level Enhanced Safe Browsing and Advanced Protection and keep the system updated. 

Final Words 

Suppose you think getting anti-virus software installed on your system will protect you from cyberattacks. Then, you’re mistaken.   

We live in a digital era and most of the work we do is online. Besides, with so many digital threats out there, anti-virus software won’t be enough to keep your data safe. Therefore, there’s no way you can run away from these attacks. But what you can do is start implementing the tips discussed above and defend yourself from them.  

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