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Where does a hacker's drive come from?

Ever wondered why hackers do what they do? Thycotic, a software firm specialising in privileged access password protection, conducted a survey of 127 hackers at Black Hat USA 2014 to try and understand their thinking.

The company found that more than half of the hackers (51 per cent) were driven by the fun/thrill, while 19 per cent were in it for the money. Few hackers fear getting caught with 86 per cent confident they will never face repercussions for their activities.

99 per cent said they believed that simplistic hacking tactics such as phishing are still effective, and when asked which types of employees they would most likely target first in order to gain login credentials for a particular company, 40 per cent said they would start with a contractor. A smart move, given that Edward Snowden was a contractor, and used his privileged access to steal sensitive NSA documents.

Read more: Staying safe while mobile in the age of industrialised hacking

"The motivations and inner workings of today’s hacker community have always been somewhat mysterious, but the damage they can do to an enterprise is painfully clear," said Jonathan Cogley, founder and CEO of Thycotic.

"Understanding why hackers do what they do is the first step as IT security teams take measures to better control and monitor access to company secrets. Organizations need to do a better job of protecting the passwords and privileged login credentials associated with contractors and IT administrators, as these employees are a huge target for cybercriminal activity."

View an infographic of the study here.