Perspectives on the cybercriminal labor market.
N2K logoJan 31, 2023

A Kaspersky study analyzing the dark web job market provides insight into a facet of cybercriminal life.

Perspectives on the cybercriminal labor market.

A study from Kaspersky describes the criminal labor market. While some commentary emphasizes potentially high wages; another hones in on the downsides.

The cybercriminal’s Indeed.

The Kaspersky report analyzed long-term and full-time job listings on 155 dark web forums from January 2020 through June 2022. Research found a high density of posted ads in March of 2020, suspected to be so because of the pandemic and the changing nature of the labor market. Hackers and APT groups are found to be the key employers, often searching developers (who comprise 61% of the total job listings). The highest salary shown for a developer was listed as $20,000 a month, though the median pay for the listings averaged between $1,300 and $4,000 a month for most IT professionals, with the highest medians seen in reverse engineer positions.

The benefits of being a dark web developer.

Commentary from BleepingComputer yesterday hones in on the benefits provided for cybercriminals identified in the study. The $20,000 per month developer salary, along with observed ads promising $15,000 a month to capable attack specialists, are seen attempting to entice potential workers. Some benefits are also reflective of an above-board company, such as paid vacation and sick leave, as well as flexible scheduling. Though these listings are competitive (especially in today’s job market), the risks of taking on a life of cybercrime do not outweigh the benefits, Kaspersky emphasizes.

The grass may not be as green as it appears on the dark web.

The Register comments on the downsides associated with cybercrime, showing that while those $20,000 monthly salaries exist, the actual medians tell a different story, saying “The median monthly salary for developers, however, came in at $2,000 per month, compared to attackers ($2,500), reverse engineers ($4,000), analysts ($1,750), IT admins and testers ($1,500) and designers ($1,300).” That is, if they even get paid. The lack of existence of formal employment contracts allows for those in these “positions” to be ripped off, the Register explains. Though desperate times may call for desperate measures, the risks associated with pursuing this lifestyle are not worth the benefits.