"Desperate" job seekers turn to hacking forums for paid work

A hacker wearing black gloves using a laptop keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

"Desperate" job seekers are advertising their willingness to work for cyber criminals on the darknet and hacking forums, security researchers have warned.

According to a report published by Check Point Research, this is a growing trend that researchers haven't observed before, as the norm is for criminals to seek new recruits rather than the other way around.

Check Point tracked several known hacking forums and saw dozens of posts from individuals with no prior cyber crime experience begging for work that would earn them cash quickly. The researchers said they believed this is the result of the impact of COVID-19 on the global jobs market, with the unemployment rate in the US reaching an unprecedented 14.8% in April 2020.

Oded Vanunu, head of Products Vulnerabilities Research at Check Point, says people seeking illegal jobs on the darknet and hacking forums is a danger to us all.

"When we began seeing people offering to assist in criminal activity, we were surprised and alarmed. People offering to work for cyber criminals places us all in more danger. Hence, we decided to select a handful of hacking forums to track closely over the past few months,” he said.


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He added that the number of posts from job seekers consistently grew in those forums. “All of this makes for a dangerous culture in the darknet. The darknet should be the last place people look for work. Desperate times make for desperate measures, including turning to the dark side and hacking forums of the internet."

In one example, a job seeker posted in a dark web forum that they were “down to any job possible… I am home 24/7 because of this pandemic”. Another post said: “I am ready to act as a sender. Ready to accept funds. a raider... a courier”.

In another example, a 25-year-old woman from Ukraine said she was "experienced in scams of logistics, sales and wholesale” and understands the risks of carrying out such activities is looking for a role that pays monthly.

“We believe the trend we’re seeing represents the difficult financial situation that many people face as a result of the pandemic. This ‘cry’ from people should concern anyone who wants to minimize illicit criminal activities,” Vanunu added.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.