October 17, 2011

Hacker Forum Analysis

In the past month, there’s been a surge in interest in hacker forums.  Consider:

  • Researchers at UCSD published a paper on hacker forums.  This report looks at the structure and social dynamics of hacker forums.  It’s a good read and highlights the fact that hacker forums are vibrant social networks but with a darker purpose.  Like Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks, hacker forums have been around for some time and provide an essential gateway to understanding hacker behavior.
  • Misha Glenny, a British journalist, released a book called Dark Markets, profiling the history of a famous hacker forum from 2005 to 2009.  I have to admit I haven’t read the book, it’s still being shipped.  But the Wall Street Journal reviewed the book and noted, “Mr. Glenny's most perceptive insight: Regardless of how much money governments and corporations spend on upgrading computer security, the war on cybercrime cannot be won without mastering the psychology of its practitioners."
  • Today, Imperva released a study of hacker forums to highlight how they work.  You can access the report here (no reg required).  Our research takes a different perspective:  we look at what hackers are discussing from an attack standpoint.  For example, we found the DDoS comprised nearly 22% of discussions with SQL injections coming in 2nd place with 19%.  Further, we found a 150% growth rate in discussions around hacking for the past several years.  This helps highlight why hacking is on the rise.  For instance, the Verizon report shows a significant increase in the number of breach incidents, even as the volume of data records fell.    We think the growth in hacker forum activity helps explain that, along with automated hacking, there are simply more hackers causing more breaches.

We also developed a video overview.

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