Jan 31, 2023 - Technology

Developers are in high demand in the cybercrime underworld

Illustration of keyboard letters spelling "Helped Wanted"

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Developers are the most in-demand roles on the dark web, according to recent research from Russian cyber firm Kaspersky.

Driving the news: Kaspersky's analysis of job advertisements posted on dark web forums between January 2020 and June 2022 found that some cybercrime and state-sponsored hacking groups were offering developers upward of $20,000 a month to join their ranks.

  • Job ads for developers made up 61% of posts researchers spotted across 155 dark web forums.

The big picture: Cybercriminals and state-backed hacking groups have become increasingly organized in recent years.

Between the lines: The analysis paints a clearer picture of why some hackers end up being tempted to cross over to malicious work.

Details: Kaspersky analyzed approximately 200,000 employment-related ads posted during the year-and-a-half period.

  • Posts peaked in March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic began, likely due to soaring unemployment rates at the time.
  • 82% of relevant advertisements mentioned "test assessments" candidates would have to take, and 37% requested people submit a CV or portfolio.
  • Median monthly salaries ranged from $1,300 to $4,000 depending on the role.
  • 17% of the job ads were people looking for jobs, rather than groups looking to hire someone.

The intrigue: While Kaspersky analyzed only IT-related jobs, researchers also spotted ads for nontechnical positions — including one moderating a group's Telegram channel.

Yes, but: Not all of the job listings were necessarily criminal or illicit, Kaspersky researchers noted.

  • "Most dark web employers offer semi-legal and illegal jobs, but there are ads with potentially legal job offers that comply with national laws," researchers wrote. "An example is creating IT learning courses."

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