The Ponemon Institute recently conducted a survey to find out how much the average (illegal) hacker makes. It’s a question that might pop up on geek trivia night, and given the huge headlines touting millions of dollars stolen from major hacks, it might seem like a pretty lucrative criminal career path. It turns out that it can be, but like most fame-laden endeavors, the stories that make the headlines are usually the exception. However, there’s another issue at play: Hackers could actually make a pretty decent living, albeit an unethical one, if they worked anywhere near full-time hours.
The average hacker makes $30,000 per year, which is less than full-time at minimum wage in many states. Ponemon surveyed 3,304 hackers who worked in the US, Germany, and the UK to find out more about the inner workings of the craft. It revealed that 69 percent of hackers prioritize making money and are actively trying to make more. Still, this bunch makes just under $29,000 per year. That being said, they also “work” only about 705 hours each year, which is about 15 hours per week.
Lack of Work or Lack of Motivation?
The average hacker launches eight attacks per year. Of those, only 42 percent are a success. Even if they are successful, just 59 percent of those hacks are actually profitable, earning hackers around $14,700 on average. Hackers have overhead, too, especially their special tools for hacks, and those cost about $1,300 per attack. With those figures, you wouldn’t come close to being able to pay for a studio apartment in any metro, let alone other living expenses.
Even so, if you break down the hourly pay it’s just over $40 per hour. That equates to $85,000 per year if hackers worked full-time. It’s unclear if it’s a lack of “work,” since technology is getting better and better every day at preventing hacks, or if it’s a lack of motivation. The survey didn’t ask whether hackers had above the table jobs, were attending school, or about other commitments that might keep them from hacking full-time.
Hack Your Life
The average hacker spends less than two full days on an attack, and say they wouldn’t pursue an attack unless it had the potential for a very high ROI. This means a lot of potential vulnerable sites are in the clear simply because hackers don’t see them as cash cows. Hackers also say they would probably retreat from a planned attack if the target upped their cybersecurity strategy or seemed to have caught a whiff of the plans.
Worried about these attacks? It’s time to increase your security and boost your odds of driving away cybercriminals, but you’re going to need more than a strong firewall. Upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS) host instead of a basic shared plan is often the same cost (or very similar) and offers a much better speed and security approach. It’s one of the easiest ways to ward off attacks and might not cost any extra at all.