Tens of thousands of highly skilled computer nerds have lost their jobs due to unprecedented layoffs, but if they become very desperate, it seems they may always turn to the dark web! Some job advertising on darknet crime forums offer extremely competitive salaries—and even better benefits, according to a recent investigation from security company Kaspersky—and other benefits.
According to Kaspersky researchers, “cybercriminals need a crew of professionals with specific expertise to access an organization’s infrastructure, steal confidential data, or encrypt the system for later extortion.” Researchers note that the most benevolent employers, who frequently are well-known hacking gangs, have even been known to provide six-figure salaries, paid time off, paid sick leave, and a “friendly team” as desirable employment benefits.
Security experts have discovered that many cybercriminal gangs actually function quite similarly to conventional organizations. Most notably, a data breach from the ransomware group Conti last year revealed that the hackers had everything, including a customer service team, an HR department, “employee of the month” awards, and performance appraisals. According to Kaspersky’s research, cybercriminal gangs, like startups, require a variety of diverse jobs to ensure the seamless operation of their criminal companies.
One job posting from Kaspersky’s report, which is available in full, doesn’t seem all that different from what you may find on LinkedIn:
We are looking for a person to join our team to oversee basic administrative and recruitment tasks. Salary is $5000-$8500 a month via cryptocurrency. Must be capable of coding and have experience in web development, as some of your administrative tasks will include development. Must be motivated and give 100% commitment to the team
Payment often in crypto
A sizable portion of the thousands of job listings that researchers combed through for their investigation were for web designers, IT administrators, and data analysts; conversely, only about 16 percent were for “attack experts,” or hackers who would assist gangs in breaking into networks. However, developer and programmer positions accounted for around 61 percent of the job posts. Reverse engineers typically earn up to $4,000 per month via bitcoin or another anonymous cryptocurrency, making these occupations the highest paid. According to researchers, developer earnings can range from $10k to $20k per month, placing some fortunate dark web dwellers in the top 15% of American employment.
However, it appears that the majority of cybercriminals earn significantly less than that, with earnings that are more likely to be comparable to those of a part-time side job in the real world.
Going to a dark web job board may be done for a variety of reasons. Expectations of quick money and significant financial gain attract many people. Frequently, this is just a delusion. Dark web salaries are rarely noticeably higher than what you can get legally. In addition, the amount of pay you receive is determined by your abilities, work ethic, and experience. Nevertheless, a sizable portion of workers in the official economy resigned their positions in order to locate comparable employment on the dark web market because they were dissatisfied with their salary.
Researchers highlight that financial desperation can lead people to turn to cybercrime. They include screenshots from a darknet user who reportedly remarked, at the height of the 2020 pandemic, “My family is in quarantine due of the corona [sic]… Since we can’t go outdoors, nobody can work, I’m looking for a job to assist us out for at least a month while earning some money.