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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Dark Overlord, a cybercriminal collective known for targeting a few flashy, high-profile victims, is hiring. They've even posted a help wanted ad, archived by the threat intelligence firm Digital Shadows — and their job listing is more like "The Office" than "Mr. Robot."

Why it matters: If you imagine hacking and cybercrime as an alternative subculture of punk kids with keyboards, think again: Hacking groups are businesses of a sort, and some of them are borrowing the language and recruiting techniques of the mainstream.

The Dark Overlord's job listing, posted in November, is a window into IT hacking as a daily-grind office job.

  • "Very corporate," said Rick Holland, chief information security officer and vice president of strategy at Digital Shadows. "If you saw that ad pop up on Indeed, you’d think it was an average tech company."

Background: The Dark Overlord is the group that famously threatened to leak "Orange is the New Black" and "Game of Thrones" content if networks didn't pay up. More recently, the group has begun leaking documents from insurance providers related to 9/11.

"Must have a winning attitude." According to the job listing found on the KickAss hacker forum, "If you're goal oriented and used to objectives and achieving them, you're perfect for us."

  • The listing is pure Silicon Valley, sprinkling corporate programming buzzwords and human resources jargon amid tightly organized subheadings.
  • The job listing requires 10 years' experience in software design, network management or systems administration, with 5 years working in a "team-based cooperation environment."
  • Applicants "must be able to bring innovative approaches to the operations and work outside-the-box regularly." They'll need to submit to certification and skills testing. ("We do that too!" notes Holland.)
  • The Dark Overlord offers either a salary or commission payment structure. Save for the higher figures (the job pays a starting salary of as much as 50,000 British pounds a month), the salary option would fit in any office park. There's a 90-day probationary period with the potential for a raise after a year.

The bottom line: View The Dark Overlord as a late-stage tech startup trying to grow its workforce after early buzz wore off and some of the original talent has begun to depart.

  • The TV and 9/11 hacks, including a promotional site for the "Game of Thrones" operation, have kept the group's public profile aloft.
  • But Holland says business has been down for The Dark Overlord. Deposits into the groups cryptocurrency accounts have dwindled.
  • Meanwhile, there has been turnover at the office. Digital Shadows notes that the group allegedly recently lost some of its talent to arrests — a problem less common, though not entirely unheard of, in the more conventional tech industry.

Go deeper: Suspect admits to hacking data of German public officials

Go deeper

2 mins ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

2 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.