Experts have noted that 9 out of every 10 (about 90 percent) dark web users are searching for a hacker who will supply them particular cybercriminal tools or can download a user database.
This finding has been backed by research studies conducted by firms such as Positive Technologies who studied the online activities across 10 most notable dark web forums that specialize in all things ranging from website hacking to the buying and selling of databases.
According to Positive Technologies, there’s been a growing demand for hacker-for-hire services and stolen data – the cyber firm attributes the reality to the increased usage of online channels of work for notable organizations amid the COVID-19 crisis.
It turns out that gaining access to a web resource is the most common reason for people to look to dark web forums for help, researchers found out that this request accounted for 69 percent of all ad enquiries on the underground forums.
The second most common enquiry, representing 21 percent of all enquiries, in the forums was about obtaining user or client databases from particular resources. The investigators discovered that the persons that were most interested about getting this kind of information were mostly competitors and spammers who gather lists of addresses for targeted phishing campaigns designed to target particular audiences.
Moreover, about 7 percent of dark web forum messages involved people offering their services to breach online platforms while 3 percent were keen about promoting hacking enablers (including tools and guides), and connecting with like-minded persons in sharing hacking experience.
While commenting on the February 2021 publication, a Positive Technologies analyst said that since March last year, the firm had noted increase interest in website hacking as evidenced by the surge in the number of related ads across darknet forums.
Yana Yurakova, the analyst, attributed the findings to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that have since forced a host of organizations to move their core activities online. It goes without saying that these companies had no choice but to shift their offline approach to online engagement with customers in maintaining close ties.
Unpacking the Dark Web Hacker-for Hire Services
A recent study conducted by Comparitech aimed to reveal just how much it would cost if you wanted to hire a hacker on the dark web.
In order to arrive at their conclusion, the investigators examined more than 100 dark web listings from 12 hacking services to probe how much the services would cost an interested party.
As much as Comparitech placed a disclaimer on their website about not condoning illicit activities through the dark web, their findings provide an idea of how much you would need to pay in order to gain from the different hacking services being advertised online (See below).
According to Comparitech, majority of the dark web platforms that were viewed possessed similar menus and product listings as far as the hacker-for-hire services are concerned. The researchers went on to state that the current dark web prices are not fixed – that individual buyers can consider negotiating with the service sellers, this option can giver buyers the best value for money.
Having said that, hacker-for-hire services are generally priced according to a number of factors concerning specific circumstances for both buyer and seller interests. The complexity, duration, risk and scale of a job will have a very significant influence on the final price that you will be asked to pay for particular services (See graph below).
It turns out that a number of trends can be picked on the surface in contest of how the hacking services are classified. Personal attacks, including defamation, legal sabotage and financial disruption, represent the priciest services that users can procure.
Changing school grades came in second while social media hacking happens to be the most commonly listed service.
The general observation that was made by Comparitech was that all the hacker-for-hire services demanded upfront payments from interested buyers. The threat actors would instruct prospective customers to reach out via encrypted messaging apps or secure mail. A number of the hacker websites, however, provided some assurance of refunds in unsuccessful hacking jobs.
In addition, the majority of hacking services that were examined by the researchers seemed to set realistic expectations for buyers – the sellers would state that they only take assignments that are within their skills and abilities. In fact, one dark web group admitted that about 5-7 percent of cases are completely unsuccessful.
Further, many cybercriminals claim that they can execute a job successfully within 24 hours, while more complex assignments will demand days of weeks when breaching networks and organizations that seem to have very good OPSEC.
What Are the Specific Costs?
As mentioned already, pricing for hacker-for-hire services vary from one seller to another based on the various factors that would affect a successful hacking job.
The average price of personal attack services on the dark web is $551. This works by a threat actor launching a personal attack against your personal target using various tools and approaches.
Some of the ways that are being used at the moment are financial sabotage, causing legal problems to your target victim or public defamation. When it comes to personal attacks, cybercriminals do not take any prisoners – your target victim may even framed as a consumer of child sex abuse content.
Still under this category, some hacking services provide “scammer revenge” or “fraud tracking” services that are tailored for people looking to track down a scammer of access their personal information.
Altering School Grades
With an average price of $526, this happens to be one of the most sought-after hacker-for-hire services on the dark web – it also ranks among the most expensive hacker services that you can purchase in 2021.
In this category, buyers can pay cybercriminals to breach their school system and make changes to their academic grades and attendance records. The service caters to both grade schools and colleges.
As a bonus, some dark web hackers will actually offer to steal the answers to upcoming examinations and tests.
Social Media Account Hacking
The average price for this service is about $230. It happens to be the most common type of dark web listing that was noted by Comparitech researchers. The way it works is that hackers will offer to hijack or spy on the social media accounts of your target victim.
Point to note, the hackers claim that they can access all popular social media platforms – it turns out that WhatsApp ranks top in terms of social media apps that were mentioned on dark web forums.
Other social sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, Telegram, TikTok, Snapchat and Reddit (See the listing below).
Point to remember, the specific service varies in price according to the social media site that you want to deal with. The same variation is also seen in the purpose behind the desired cyberattacks.
Credential theft and account hijacking seem to form the majority of requests for hacking incidents targeting Facebook and Twitter accounts. WhatsApp, on the other hand, is the reserve of customers looking to spy on messages, take screenshots or pulling backups.
In terms of methodology, there was no clear approach that was standard for a cyberattack cases involving social media platforms. However, there was a consistent mention of malware and social engineering as the most common methodologies used to orchestrate the hacks.
That revelation highlights the fact that hackers depend on the possibility of tricking victims into clicking on malicious links or attachments. This means that victims must take some kind of action in order for the cybercriminals to succeed in their agenda.
Boosting Credit Scores
A number of dark web forums have listings for hackers claiming that they can boost buyers’ credit scores or clear their debt.
To access this service, you may be asked to pay a flat rate of $257, or the hacker may demand for remunerations based on the percentage of your savings. Others even go as far as claiming that they can erase your name from blacklists of loan defaulters.
The average price of website hacking is $394. This category contains options for targeting websites and other types of services that depend on the internet. Some hacker groups promise that they can hack into any online platform with the intention of gaining access to either the underlying web server or the online platform’s administrative panel.
In addition, others claim that that they can steal databases and administrative credentials for your specific needs. It is also worth mentioning that apart from websites, online game servers and other internet infrastructure are some of the resources that may be targeted by paying for hacker-for-hire services.
Distributed Denial-Of-Service (DDoS) Attacks
We all understand how devastating DDoS attacks can be. As early as 2019, dark web marketplace and forum administrators blamed Tor vulnerabilities for the incessant occurrence of DDoS attacks in the hidden web. For instance, a large section of darknet commentators attributed the 2019 death of Dream Market (the darknet behemoth of its time) to a sustained DDoS attack linked to a weakness in the Tor network.
Indeed, DDoS attacks can be used by forums and markets to attack and disrupt their competition or law enforcement agencies. The extent of these attacks have placed the admins of dark web sites on high alert.
It turns out that all the cyber defences that are continuously being invested by market and forum operators is not doing much to keep the DDoS attacks at bay. The problem is compounded by the fact that most threat actors tend to be more determined than the figures behind vulnerable markets and forums.
Worse, the concept of relatively cheap DDoS rental services may mean that DDoS attackers will not be easily exit the dark web scene. Cybersecurity have published numerous threat actor assessment reports indicating the existence of DDoS rental services costing as little as $10 per hour, or $200 per day.
For the above small charge per hour, you can pay a threat actor to launch and maintain DDoS attacks for as long as you can afford to pay. Take note that prices may increase in cases where an attacker will be expected to target online platforms with DDoS protection mechanisms like Cloudflare.
The variation in price is also witnessed in light of the amount of bandwidth that’s needed to orchestrate an attack, this means that the prices can go as low or as high as demanded by the prospective customer.
You can actually pay a dark web hacker $318 to request for a custom malware, which may range from keyloggers to botnets and ransomware.
Like DDoS attacks, ransomware attacks tend to be very potent. This reality is well illuminated by the numerous cases involving dark web ransomware groups that have orchestrated attacks that brought entire government infrastructures to their knees.
REvil ransomware group is one such example of how there forms of malware can be destructive. Believed to be domiciled in Russia, REvil has been connected to some of the biggest cyberattacks in 2021. Just this year, the ransomware gang breached America’s largest meat supplier JBS and extorted about $11 million from the firm.
The ransomware group would go on to orchestrate another hack against the global IT supplier Kaseya, demanding for a $70 million ransom in exchange for access to encrypted victim files.
Barely two weeks after the Kaseya breach, REvil’s web services disappeared from the internet under unclear circumstances.
This is also another category among other hacker-for-hire services on the dark web. For $195, you can engage a threat actor online to track a person’s location. This is typically done by monitoring the target victim’s IP address of their cellphone. Some hackers may go as far as employing open-source intelligence in trying to locate the target.
Otherwise, the average price of hacking people’s computers and mobile phones is $343. It entails the breaking into business and personal devices to harvest sensitive information, deploy malware or carry out some other malicious activity.
What’s interesting is that for the same price tag, you can hire someone to launch remote administration tools against your target – this will allow you to breach your victim’s devices over the internet. It turns out that all operating system are vulnerable to this kind of cyberattack: Windows, iOS, MacOS, Linux, Android and even Blackberry.
It costs about $241 to purchase email hacking services. It involves the stealing of the target account holder’s password, which predisposes to other actions.
First, the hacker may hand over the victim’s password to you, or you may instruct the hacker to breach the email account themselves to harvest sentitive data and information. The hacker may also configure email forwarding to ensure that you, the customer, receives a copy of all the target’s emails.
As shown in this article, you can basically hire hackers for literally anything that may come to your mind. Apart from the above categories, you’ll be surprised to about the existence of many more hacker-for-hire services across darknet forums.
One of them is Bitcoin wallet recovery where, in case you lose the password to your wallet, a hacker can help you restore access to the account and save your crypto from permanent loss. COVID-19 vaccine hospital database hacking is also the other service that you can procure on the dark web.
Essentially, it helps you spy on vaccine recipients’’ data or even add your own name to the database. This is especially valuable for people who are afraid to take the vaccine but do not want to suffer any inconveniences or loss of economic opportunities by virtue of being unvaccinated.
Black hat SEO services can be used to change search engine results to boost or lower an online platform’s rankings. This is also coupled with the more surprising service of security audits where a dark web hacker will audit the OPSEC of your site of other web-hosted service.