Cyber CriminalIt’s easy to understand how hackers make money. By exposing the vital business data of a company or organisation, a hacker can sell stolen credentials on the black market, hold the information hostage and extort their owners, or even get paid by government authorities in some cases. Providers of remote DBA, such as DBA Services, can attest to the damage this can bring to both profit and non-profit organisations.

The question now is how much these cyber criminals actually earn. Can they make a living out of their illegal activities, or even make a fortune like their non-cyberspace bound counterparts?

It’s All About Money

According to research by the cyber security firm Flashpoint, hackers can easily earn $7,500 a month or more using ‘ransomware’ campaigns. The gist behind ransomware is evident: this software bars access to a computer or database until a predetermined sum of money is paid. It’s technically like a real-life hostage situation but done on cyberspace.

The figure is derived from a seemingly booming ransomware ‘business’ in Russia, where hackers receive around 30 ransom payments a month, each worth $300. It is known that ransomware heists are being headed by small teams, with the ‘lesser’ members of the team getting smaller cuts of the profit compared to their boss.

When it comes to trying to make millions, cyber criminals are even craftier—and at times employing common sense. Most of them target banks because that’s obviously where the money is. According to Rob Sloan, a cyber security expert for Dow Jones Risk and Compliance, cyber criminals are always attracted to financial institutions because there’s always an opportunity to hit a ‘one time, big time’ heist.

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How much? As much as $78 million, alluding to one of the biggest cyber attacks to date. Dubbed ‘Operation High Roller,’ the attack managed to fleece both individuals and businesses across the United States, Latin America, and Europe. The number, however, is probably a bit underestimated. According to Dave Marcus of the security company McAfee, the cyber criminals may have actually come away with over a billion dollars.

What this says is that given the right tools and knowledge, cyber criminals can actually make a fortune out of their illegal activities. The only thing that can stop them now is heightened vigilance, tighter cyber security, and a better data backup plan.