Perhaps the easiest business to get into on the darknet right now is to work as a darknet hacker or programmer. With literally tens of thousands of ads across the darknet looking for full-time hackers. Many of which pay up to $20,000 a month. What’s going on here? Let’s look at why the darknet hacking market is booming.
Darknet Hackers Go All out
Kaspersky researchers took to darknet forums analysing them between January 2020 to June 2022. The team found nearly 200,000 full-time job postings looking for darknet hackers or programmers. The study claims these were posted across 155 darknet forums, to which I reply, “where are all these forums.” Heck, almost everybody is lost without Dread, which is only one darknet forum.
Atleast 61% of the postings were specifically looking for software developers. Most of which offered an extraordinary package. How much, you ask?
You could walk away with $100,000 a month if you’re one lucky developer. But on average, IT professionals’ salaries varied between $1,300 and $4,000 a month… still not too bad. Reverse engineers could also earn an average of $4,000 a month.
The different listings consisted of the following jobs:
- Analyst: A person who gathers information for attack planning/ processing stolen data.
- Developer: A specialist in malware development and alternative tools. Job varies drastically.
- Attacker: The person who performs the initial infrastructure with the plan of compromising and attacking website/app development.
- Reverse Engineer: creates reverse engineering tools and derivative tools.
- Designer: Creates phishing websites/emails to replicate and scam users.
- Testers: Paid to debug malware or attempt to evade “protective measures.”
- IT Administrators: Configuration and maintenance. Handles IT infrastructure and takes control over already hacked networks.
- Managers: Takes care of full APT group coordination.
What’s Driving The Market?
As you may guess, almost every job posting on the darknet is illegal. This could include selling drugs, stealing data, or providing alternative services. But these jobs rarely meaning working for darknet markets. But most of these programming jobs posted on the darknet weren’t particularly focused towards darknet websites.
These reports date back to early 2020, as crypto inched towards its ATH every day. This created thousands of opportunities for different hackers and scammers to walk away with somebody else’s funds. Although the pay for these jobs was impressive, it was a guarantee that phishing/scamming from a handful of unknowing victims would pay itself off.
We recently reported on how popular Data Trafficking has become on the darknet, and how it’s a “booming business.”
With a few factors in the last year, like lockdown and Covid, and it’s pretty much scammers’ paradise. The Covid pandemic pushed darknet job postings up by over 40%. With millions of people who hadn’t purchased something off the internet, or were searching for cheaper options, phishing attempts worked better than before.
For context, the IRS seized $4.5 Billion dollars in crypto assets by the end of 2021, and according to their latest report, the IRS Crypto Seizures Doubled in 2022. We also know that North Korean hackers stole a record $1.7 billion worth of crypto in 2022.
Landing a Job Through The Darknet
The first thought you’d probably have is that most of these job openings were scam attempts on their own. The Kaspersky report didn’t cover whether all of the jobs were genuine. During a time of mass layoffs, market turmoil, and desperate job hunters. Cybercrime groups are happy to ramp up their recruitment process. So what is it these darknet business owners look for?
Unlike most jobs, your higher education, criminal record and general reputation don’t matter. The few concerns they do have are. They want to know your experience and whether you are of legal age, and some only want candidates who are free from substance abuse. Almost all want to know that you’re willing to do “illegal work.”
For most desperate freelancers, these aren’t an issue. One surprising fact was that a large majority of the posts were job postings and not those looking for work, indicating a shortage of personnel.
Often the recruiters provide a Telegram/Discord account as means of communication and are willing to pay for test assignments. As an example, one job used a multi-step screening process. The job candidate was to encrypt a test DLL in 24 hours, the DLL needed to be 100% undetectable by AVs. If that’s a job you can do, this could be an opportunity of a lifetime… Not really.
Although dark web jobs could be expected to pay higher than legitimate ones, we did not detect a significant difference between the median levels of IT professionals compensation in the cybercriminal ecosystem and the legitimate job market.The Kasperspy team report
The reality is that working for anybody in the darknet business comes with major risks. If you aren’t being scammed, then there’s a good possibility of being framed or arrested for participating in illegal activities.
Hey there, I’m a dark web geek who’s been around for the last 8 years. More precisely, I’m livedarknet’s senior content writer who’s been writing about darknet marketplaces, tutorials, and cybersecurity stuff for educational purposes.