Shock: Hackers sometimes hack just to be jerks


Internet security experts, and the people who pretend to be them, often only track hacks and the like when there’s money or personal information involved. You know, stolen credit card numbers, eBay phishing scams, etc. That’s all well and good—“I just want to make sure my money is safe!”—but a study detailing a sample of last year’s Internet hacks, and found that 24 percent of them had nothing at all to do with stealing money or personal information, but were rather carried out for no reason other than to deface and disrupt . Or, as Ars Technica so artfully put it, sometimes hackers just hate you. Or, as Nicholas Deleon will put it, sometimes hackers are just big stupid heads.

This shocking revelation comes to us by way of the Web Hacking Incident Database’s annual report, 2008 edition. Yes, there are incidents where “hackers” are looking to steal your personal information, but there are plenty of incidents where no money or personal information is at risk. Rather, there are times when people are just looking to be jerks: defacing Web sites for the “fun” of it, or to advance a political point (see: Russia/Georgia from last year; when that CNN guy called the Chinese government a bunch of thugs, etc.). People with the wherewithal and time to wreak havoc, just because they can.

As far as the research goes, all these silly acts of Web vandalism, or even “hacktivism,” give IT folk another opportunity to secure their servers and so forth, so it’s not a total wash.