You hear it all the time in the news, in TV shows and movies, in advertising, in the tech industry, and nearly anywhere else you can imagine:
THE HACKERS ARE HACKING YOU!
It makes for good drama for sure. The hacker is a boogeyman, a faceless terror that can be used as the bad guy in any story meant to sell something or tell a story in the information age. But referring to people who engage in hacking activities as hackers is misleading. I prefer to call them what they are: criminals.
An Insider Threat is nothing more than a human who decides to betray the trust of their employer and commit crimes against the organization. A Malicious Insider is a criminal.
An Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is nothing more than one or more humans employed by a foreign government or another organization to attack using sophisticated tools and techniques. The actions they perform are crimes, both internationally and in virtually all national and local jurisdictions. An APT is a criminal enterprise.
A Hacktivist like the Anonymous group is nothing more than humans deciding to attack targets for whatever aim they decide is their focus that day. These are invariably criminal actions.
A Financially-Motivated group of humans attacking banking and other finance-related entities is a criminal enterprise.
The actions of these criminals are all crimes. Not cyber-crimes. This isn’t cyber-jurisdiction or cyber-battlefield. This is happening in the real world and is breaking existing law.
Words matter – let’s call it what it is. Black hat hackers are just petty criminals, plain and simple.