Ask the average person to describe a hacker or “cybercriminal,” and chances are you would probably get a stereotype straight out of Hollywood: a guy with a vaguely Eastern European accent sitting in a cramped, dark room, dressed like the Unabomber or an extra from Mr. Robot. As with most things, that stereotype is far from the norm. The reality is the hacker who is coming after your credit card number or personal information may not be a member of an organized hacking group: they may be the kid next door.

When the hacking collective Anonymous declared cyberwar on Isis, a survey of online hackers revealed the age to be around 17 years old.  As The Guardian pointed out, the only requirement to be a hacker is that you have an “inquiring mind and plenty of time.”  This typically is any teenager who has a working knowledge of coding, but who feels bored by the day-to-day work of school and home. In fact, many of these “hacks” aren’t originally intended to be malicious or to attempt to gain financially. They’re the products of bored teenagers who are attempting to solve a problem that will gain them notoriety among other hackers.

It’s important to note hackers are not social loners who take out their personal anxiety on the world by unleashing viruses. Most have grown up in a computer culture that encourages communication over isolation. While they may not have a lot of “real life” friends, they tend to have their own social community online, going back to old-school message boards and modern-day subreddits.

Of course, for every tale of a bored teenager left unsupervised by parents who turns to hacking, there is another of sophisticated cybercriminals who are working for illegal financial gain. For instance, the Mirai botnet hack of 2016 was perpetrated by three men in their twenties who created the virus which was then sold and ultimately used to disrupt the service of Twitter, PayPal, and Spotify, among others. As with this hack, oftentimes the ones who are unleashing the viruses for gain are not the actual hackers who designed the viruses. Instead, the hackers are designing and then selling their work online.

Whether it is the bored teenager down the street or the young adult trying to take down a business, hacking is becoming more prevalent in our lives. New Edge Technology wants to be sure you are aware and proactive in protecting your information. Find out more about NETS and how we’re protecting businesses every day.