A man in Sweden says he will pay up to $2,000 to anyone who can break into his landlord’s website. A woman in California says she will pay $500 for someone to hack into her boyfriend’s Facebook and Gmail accounts to see if he is cheating on her.
The business of hacking is no longer just the domain of intelligence agencies, international criminal gangs, shadowy political operatives and disgruntled “hacktivists” taking aim at big targets. Rather, it is an increasingly personal enterprise.
At a time when huge stealth attacks on companies like Sony Pictures, JPMorgan Chase and Home Depot attract attention, less noticed is a growing cottage industry of ordinary people hiring hackers for much smaller acts of espionage.
A new website, called Hacker’s List, seeks to match hackers with people looking to gain access to email accounts, take down unflattering photos from a website or gain access to a company’s database. In less than three months of operation, over 500 hacking jobs have been put out to bid on the site, with hackers vying for the right to do the dirty work.
It is done anonymously, with the website’s operator collecting a fee on each completed assignment. The site offers to hold a customer’s payment in escrow until the task is completed.
In just the last few days, offers to hire hackers at prices ranging from $100 to $5,000 have come in from around the globe on Hacker’s List, which opened for business in early November.