Skip to main content


How 2020 Presidential Candidates Can Guard Against Cyberattacks

The 2016 presidential election witnessed unprecedented Russian cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns designed to disrupt the U.S. electoral system by influencing public opinion. The Russian goal is intended to destabilize the U.S.  through ideological activism, advancing their interest and further their political agenda. Their methods compromised computer systems of candidates and political parties using the exfiltrated data to spread disinformation and influence presidential elections.

On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.” According to the report, Vladimir Putin ordered a massive campaign orchestrating attacks from multiple fronts that involved spreading pro-Trump propaganda on social media to hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Their methods resulted in massive data breaches within the DNC that included access to John Podesta's email f…

What Motivates Young Cybercriminals?

In the world of cybercrimes, the majority of cybercriminals always seek financial gain, but this is not the primary motivation. Aside from the advanced sophistication of state-sponsored incidences, the young cybercriminal venturing into the dark side boils down to their ego. Adolescent criminals seek out recognition among their peers eager for a sense of success in an effort to prove themselves.

Many seek out popularity within internet hacking communities driven by a feeling of accomplishment they compromised a target. This provides them with a rush, a demeanor to develop their skills further becoming tragically involved with organized crime immersed in their addictive and dangerous sphere of influence.

Others find inadequate employment opportunities and thus are lured into the dark side to learn a skill as a matter of survival by participating in online hacking groups. They are easy prey for organized crime and state-sponsored groups to recruit indoctrinating them into their illicit trade where they assist to develop their skills from available tools online that are free and not difficult to use.  Examples include Remote Access Trojans (RAT) and booters then mastering their programming skills to the advanced ransomware among several.

Anonymity and Impunity

With tools such as Tor and VPN, another major factor luring the young into cybercrime is the invincible feeling carrying out cyber attacks. The sense their activities go beneath law enforcement’s radar that escapes discovery and arrest. Most youngsters have a false presumption that because few high-profile cyber attacks orchestrated were taken down; they are immune. Greed is a great motivator they join organized hacking groups to expand their skills for illicit purposes.

The Consequences

Organized Crime Groups for Financial Gain

In August 2018 three Ukrainians were identified and arrested one in Germany who was later extradited to the United States to face FBI charges for an organized crime operation stealing then selling debit and credit card information. The suspects Dmytro Fedorov, Fedir Hladyr and Andrii Kolpakov, are facing 26 felony charges that range from wire fraud, computer hacking, and identity theft. They targeted and breached computer systems from various businesses such as restaurants and casinos in the United States.

State Sponsored Attacks for Political Gain

In another more complex on-going state-sponsored example, Guccifer 2.0, a cover-up persona created and operated by the Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) is allegedly responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election. The GRU orchestrated a series of disinformation campaigns flooding social media to influence the U.S. election. On February 2018 indictments were handed down to 13 Russian individuals and 3 entities.

The Road Ahead

Without a doubt, the ease on which the young fall prey into the hands of the criminal element by perhaps unknowingly breaking the law, future transgressions become the norm. Many of these illicit underworld cybercriminal forums commonly found on the dark web would not discuss the consequences if their activities were to be discovered. The more advanced group discussions are often conducted offline secretly or employ cryptic online forums to discuss avoidance when they sense law enforcement is getting close.

Early Intervention

Youngsters must have mentors that provide guidance to dissuade them from entering into the harsh and ruthless world of cybercrime. Seasoned security professionals globally, as well as law enforcement, should make it a priority to reach out getting them on the right path in a positive manner.

Many individuals who venture into the dark side learn of the consequences from someone who was arrested. They immediately learn how they were caught and begin practicing avoidance measure by identifying the mistakes they made.

Educating the young early on to the dangers of cybercrime and persuading others who managed to venture out from under the dark side have gained opportunities using their skills in a positive manner in society.

Security professionals are people who see plentiful reasons work in an industry craving for talent. We must nurture the young every day who have an interest in a rewarding career in this remarkable industry.