How cyber terrorists recruit hackers – and how they can resist

hackersCyber terrorists, including those from groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, often try to recruit hackers to join them. That’s because of hackers’ skills and capabilities, as well as the fact that hacking may bring practitioners into some murky corners of cyberspace where they encounter people with dubious—sometimes downright evil—motives.

In a post on Peerlyst (, Dominique Davis, CEO and chief hacker at Red Cell Infosec, (San Francisco) advises hackers on how to identify the truly bad actors—and avoid being lured, duped, or blackmailed into supporting nefarious aims.

As Davis says in his post, entitled “Mousetrap: An Ethical Hacker’s Guide to Avoiding Cyber Terror Recruiters”: “If you are in the industry long enough and have the word hacker anywhere in your job title, the odds are that over the course of your career, you will have at least one ‘bad actor’ try to recruit you. With the militarization of hacking, unfriendly governments, terrorist organizations, and organized crime all see hackers as walking WMDs to be exploited. There is also a slew of idiots who will pitch what they think are brilliant criminal master plans to put your ‘skills’ to use.”

“Most of hackers however are ill prepared to deal with the recruiting methods used by “bad actors”. As a hacker you are used to being the smartest person in the room, which is why you never see it coming when someone considerably less intelligent then yourself ambushes you using espionage tactics that have been around since before World War 2. Being a hacker does not grant you some kind of magical immunity, in fact when you read through the intelligence community’s book of dirty tricks it seems like they were designed with hackers in mind, long before the term “hacker” was even coined.”

Davis groups the weapons in the cyber terrorist and criminal arsenal under the acronym MICE, which stands for:

Money. “Once you commit an illegal act for cash you are owned. Why? Because you can bet you will be blackmailed with it later. Cash is the bait; blackmail is the hook.”

Ideology. “This can mean religious or political ideology. Patriotism, ironically, is often used as the hook to get people to commit crimes and betray their country.”

Compromise. “This usually means blackmail. Always be mindful that once you cross the line and the bad actor has evidence of it, you are owned.”

Ego. “This is the big one and the thing that has landed every single cybercriminal who has been caught in jail.”

To read Davis’s full Peerlyst post on how hackers can identify and resist cyber terrorists, go here: – PRNewswire

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