There is no doubt that there are many hackers out there.
Traditionally, some (black hat) hackers are worse than the others. These hackers are professionals, sponsored, and have both the knowledge and experience of a malicious coder working in the dark.
Other kind of hackers, are more like "script kiddies", newbies, wannabes or who simply follow the former.
But with the internet growing, knowledge can come easier than ever before.
Since experience can never come easy, professional hackers can share their knowledge, and tools, in exchange for money.
In the modern days of cybercrime, there is no doubt that hacking attempts can come in various forms, including phishing, brute hacking, malware spreading, extortion to anything in between. But the real day-to-day reality is a lot more murdane.
So not anymore criminals should risk their guts and luck by pulling off a bank robbery, for example.
They may no longer have to wear masks, balaclavas or hoodies to hide their faces. With with the internet, it is possible for criminals to work from home and "steal" something half way across the globe, comfortably.
What makes it unfortunate for most users of the web, anyone can download an anonymous browser, and search the internet using search engines.
Wannabe hackers can try using some keyword combinations, to look for hacking tools or services, equipped with a service hotline and full money back guarantee. What this means, those people with malicious thoughts, can look for the tools they need to become hackers, and quickly earn a reputation.
First of all, there are indeed free tools available online or for download.
The free tools in this case, can include those to create fake sites and phishing emails. There are also tools to easily clone websites. People can use these tools to create and put up a malicious variant of a legitimate website, and create a way for scamming people using emails..
But before that can happen, they may want to rent a web server that can cost them only a few dollars. And as for setting up a proxy server, it may cost them just a few dollars.
Knowing this, most people willing to be part of the cybercriminal community won't need to spend much.
Then there are also more 'professional' tools for purchase. These tools are made by "real" hackers, or anyone who have successfully hacked and wanted to sell their ill-earned assets.
In this case, there are malware that can grab passwords, credit card data, and even images from webcams. These malicious software can be bought for $50. Modular bots also come cheap, just like Remote Access Trojan (RAT) that is regarded as one of the most popular tools, they can all be bought for a few hundred dollars.
These hackers may set one-stop online shop, providing hosting, design and payment solutions for cyber criminals looking for a low-cost entry method to the community.
Anyone interested just need to follow some simple procedures, have online banking account or cryptocurrency wallet, and they're good to go.
It has become so easy to hack that many script kiddies and less experienced hackers are already having cool-sounding pseudonyms to claim themselves as great hackers.
This is for apparent reason: it's extremely cheap and easy to embark on a career of cybercrime, thanks to misuse of free security-research tools.
But what is concerning her is that, professional hackers can make money by selling their services and tools, to those who need it. What this means, not anymore these hackers earn by huntomg down their targets mafia style, as they too have "users" they need to take care of.
Many professional hackers are selling their tools the old traditional way, but many of them also operate a MaaS (Malware-as-a-Service) or SaaS (Sofware-as-a-Service) business model.
What this means, the hackers sell their products on cybercrime marketplaces, complete with support, tech support and frequent updates.
Going beyond that, professional hacking groups can also provide CaaS (Cybercrime-as-a-service) with a rental fee. Many ransomware service come in this business model.
This way, it's possible for anyone to purchase 'hack packages' designed to attack large corporate companies for a monthly of a few hundred dollars to a few thousands.
And with the help of the many tutorials found on the web and beyond, even the least tech savvy individual can learn how to hack properly.
It should be noted that many "quality" offerings from the easiest find that are open for everyone may be inferior to those products on sale on invite-only forums.
On those 'professional' forums, professional hackers can sell their highest-grade malware to only the most serious criminal actors and buyers.
The real cost of cybercrime is measured not in how much the wannabe hackers want to pay for the tools or services, but instead by the misery they want to inflict to their victims, both large and small, corporate and personal.
And here, the financial cost of becoming a cybercrime player is not at all expensive (given by the potential damage that can be done).
Armed with user information, obtained by social hacking, phishing or others, hackers can do all sort of malicious deeds to get their hands on user personal information that may include username and password.
After all, user data is already a commodity. Hackers just need to hacker into that, or hack their way into whatever stores the data using the tools they have at their disposal.
Once they have the information they need to hack into a system, they can go to the corresponding place to hunt for anything from of credit card details, intellectual properties, financial details, relations, social security numbers and all sorts of sensitive data.
In less than an hour or more, the few dollars worth of tools and/or services can enable anyone to compromise a whole computer network.
On the early in the day of computing and internet, hackers tend to wreak havoc. These days are gone, as modern day hackers tend to be more interested in hacking as many machines as possible, in order to get the most amount of information possible, and to also give them access to more of the network.
So no longer criminals must wear balaclavas or hoodies. These people can hide among ordinary people, in plain sight. This struggles the law enforcement.
To counter the number of hackers and their hack attempts, people using the internet must simply up their own game and awareness on security.
Proper security, paired with privacy knowledge and practices, together with powerful security solutions should provide users of the web a better chance of beating the hackers.
With training and education, people should be able to defend themselves better in this endless war of cybercrime.