Portrait of a Hacker: 1998 vs 2018

Remember back when “You’ve got mail” was a thing? When people used dial-up to get online and called 411 to get phone numbers? When computer hackers were tech geeks who lived in their moms’ basements?

A lot has changed in the tech world since 1998 (the year Leapfrog was founded!) and cybercrime is no exception. Now it’s big business insert dash after “business” – and former slacker-hackers wear business suits, hold conventions, have fancy office space and maybe even drive nicer cars than you. Not only do they try to get into your computers but now they infiltrate your smartphones, smart houses, cloud apps, and IRS returns, too.

Would you go back to renting movies at Blockbuster instead of streaming them on Netflix? No way! That’s why you need to know what hackers look like today so you don’t take a Blockbuster approach to fix a Netflix-type problem. Check out what’s changed:

1998 Hackers 2018 Hackers
Did it for fun Do it for profit — now a $1.5 trillion per year industry
Kids in basements Adults in offices
Tech geeks White collar criminals, the Mafia, foreign governments
Spread viruses to feel powerful and watch the havoc Spread viruses to turn computers into botnets and steal money/information
Messed with your data Kidnap your data for ransom
Liked being the smartest kid on the block Like selling your information to the highest bidder
Shared trade secrets among themselves Sell malware packages on the darkweb that anyone can use
Formed groups and fought amongst each other Form businesses and compete for the biggest data hauls
Worked behind the scenes Use social engineering
Targeted computers, networks and phone lines Target business employees, computers, networks, smartphones, tablets, apps, keyboards, social media, WiFi hotspots, home security systems, retail point-of-sale, online stores, online accounts, credit card magnetic strips, game consoles, airports, coffee shops, car computer systems
Located mostly in the U.S. Located globally, especially in countries with high level levels of access to the Internet but relatively low levels of regulation and/or legal enforcement or sophistication (Eastern Europe, Russia, North Korea, China, North Africa, Nigeria, etc.)

We think about hacking all the time at Leapfrog. Keeping our clients’ networks (and their employees’ devices) safe from cyber crime is woven into everything we do. There’s a sweet spot between security and convenience and we help each client find the right balance.

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