When you fall victim to a hack, your initial reaction may be to panic and seek immediate assistance. Unfortunately, this makes you an easy target for scammers posing as hackers ready to exploit your desperation. This comprehensive guide discusses the dangers of hiring hackers, the red flags to watch out for, and the smart, responsible steps to safeguard your accounts and data.
This article is not for corporations looking to hire ethical hackers for a cybersecurity initiative. This article is for individuals who have been hacked and lost their online accounts.
If you post a cry for help on your social media profiles, you might get bombarded with multiple suggestions on whom to contact and hire to get help. In 99% of cases, these people attempt to scam you for money. Once you have paid them, they will likely disappear or request additional money to help you.
If you need help recovering hacked accounts, you should not hire someone who claims they can “hack back your account.”
You should avoid:
- Anyone who claims they are a hacker
- Anyone who claims they can hack your account back
- Anyone who is not an employee of a serious company
- Anyone who does not show their face and voice
- Anyone who does not show you their real name
- Anyone who must be paid in bitcoin or through various shady money platforms
- Anyone who does not have a legit address
- Anyone who does not have a legit website
- Anyone who does not have personal social media accounts
Here are some examples that we have seen recently that you should avoid:
What about paying a ransom to the hacker?
If you have been hacked, and the perpetrator asks you to pay a ransom to get it back, don’t. Doing so will lead to two things:
- The hacker might demand more money, and you’ll become a high-value target for other hackers.
- The hacker will take your money and block you from contacting them again.
No evidence can support anyone paying a ransom to a hacker. Lastly, by paying the ransom, you help the hacker to fund his/her operation and are indirectly responsible for new attacks and hacker victims. Please do not consider paying any form of ransom.
Why you shouldn’t hire a random hacker online
The Dangers of Hiring a Hacker
Hiring a hacker to recover your hacked accounts may seem convenient, but it often leads to more problems. When you hire a hacker:
- You risk falling victim to scams.
- You may inadvertently support criminal activities.
- You could expose your personal information and data to further risk.
- You may face legal consequences if the hacker’s actions are traced back to you.
Red Flags to Avoid Scammers
Most individuals claiming to be hackers on social media are scammers who take advantage of your vulnerable state. They often disappear once they receive your money or demand additional funds. Protect yourself from scams by watching out for these red flags:
- Claims of being a hacker or promising to hack your account back.
- Lack of affiliation with a reputable company.
- Anonymity or reluctance to reveal their face, voice, or real name.
- Requests for payment in cryptocurrencies or through shady platforms.
- Absence of a legitimate address, website, or personal social media accounts.
The Perils of Paying Ransom to Hackers
While paying a ransom to a hacker might appear to be the quickest way to regain control of your account, it typically leads to more problems. If you pay a ransom, you could:
- Encourage the hacker to demand more money.
- Attract the attention of other hackers who see you as a high-value target.
- Lose your money and be blocked by the hacker.
- Fund the hacker’s criminal activities, contributing to future cybercrimes.
Alternative Steps to Regain Control
Rather than hiring a hacker or paying a ransom, take the following responsible steps to recover your hacked accounts and protect your data:
- Notify the relevant service provider immediately to report the incident.
- Change your password on all linked accounts and enable two-factor authentication.
- Monitor your accounts for any unauthorized activities or suspicious transactions.
- Contact legitimate cybersecurity professionals for assistance through recognized channels.
- Learn about cybersecurity best practices to minimize the risk of future incidents.
Developing a Robust Cybersecurity Strategy
A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is essential for protecting your digital assets and reducing the risk of hacking incidents. By implementing the following key components, you can proactively guard against cyber threats and minimize the potential damage:
- Regularly updating and patching software and operating systems: Ensuring that your software, operating systems, and applications are up-to-date is crucial for addressing known security vulnerabilities. Software developers regularly release updates and patches to fix security flaws, so install them promptly to reduce the risk of exploitation.
- Implementing a strong password policy and using password managers: Weak or reused passwords are a significant vulnerability that hackers can easily exploit. Implement a strong password policy that requires unique, complex passwords for each account. Encourage password managers to securely store and manage passwords, making it easier to maintain strong, unique credentials for each account.
- Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) and using FIDO passkeys: 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two forms of identification before accessing an account. FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) security keys are physical devices that can be combined with (or as) 2FA to provide an even higher level of security. These keys require users to authenticate their identity with a unique cryptographic signature, making it significantly more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorized access to accounts.
- Regularly backing up your data in secure locations: Regular data backups can help you quickly recover from a cyberattack, such as ransomware or data breaches. Store backups in secure, offsite locations or encrypted cloud storage to protect them from physical damage or unauthorized access. Regularly test your backups to ensure they can be restored in an emergency.
- Educating yourself and your team on phishing scams and other common cyber threats: Phishing scams, social engineering attacks, and other cyber threats rely on exploiting human weaknesses. Provide cybersecurity training for yourself and your team to recognize and respond to these threats. Foster a culture of security awareness, encouraging everyone to remain vigilant and report suspicious activities.
- Conducting regular security audits and risk assessments: Regular security audits and risk assessments can help you identify vulnerabilities in your systems and processes. You can prioritize remediation efforts and allocate resources effectively by evaluating your security posture. Consider engaging third-party security professionals to conduct these assessments, as they can provide an objective evaluation and valuable expertise.
Hiring a hacker can expose you to various legal ramifications, as engaging in illegal activities often has significant consequences. These consequences may include:
- Criminal charges: Depending on the nature of the hacking and the jurisdiction in which it occurs, you could face criminal charges for hiring a hacker. These charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies and may result in fines, probation, or even imprisonment if you are convicted.
- Vicarious liability: Even if you are not directly involved in the hacking, you could still be held legally responsible for the actions of the hacker you hired. This concept, known as vicarious liability, means that you may be held accountable for the damages caused by the hacker’s actions, even if you did not personally hack.
- Civil lawsuits: In addition to criminal charges, you may also face civil lawsuits from the victims of the hacking. These lawsuits can seek monetary damages for the harm caused by the hacking, and the potential financial impact can be substantial, especially if multiple victims are involved.
- Regulatory penalties: Hiring a hacker may also expose you to penalties from regulatory authorities, such as data protection agencies or industry-specific regulators. These penalties can include fines, sanctions, or even the revocation of licenses or permits necessary to conduct your business.
- International legal consequences: If the hacking crosses international borders, you could face legal consequences in multiple jurisdictions. Different countries have varying laws and regulations regarding hacking and cybercrime, which can complicate the legal situation and increase the potential consequences you may face.
- Increased scrutiny: Governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide are intensifying their efforts to combat cybercrime. This increased focus on cybercrime means your actions are more likely to be discovered and prosecuted. Additionally, once you are on the radar of law enforcement agencies, you may face ongoing scrutiny and investigation, even after the initial incident has been resolved.
When hiring a hacker, the results can be unpredictable, and you may not get the expected outcome. The unreliable nature of these services can lead to several issues, such as:
- No guarantee of success: Hackers may be unable to deliver on their promises, whether due to a lack of skill, the complexity of the task, or other unforeseen obstacles. This means you could end up paying for a service that doesn’t produce the desired results or worsen the situation.
- Incomplete or incorrect work: Sometimes, a hacker may complete only a portion of the work or deliver inaccurate or misleading results. This could lead to further problems, as you may need to invest additional time and resources to address the inaccuracies or incomplete work.
- Creation of new vulnerabilities: While working on your systems, hackers may intentionally or unintentionally create new vulnerabilities, such as backdoors or security gaps. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by the same hacker or others in the future, putting your systems and data at risk of further attacks.
- Introduction of malware: Hackers may also plant malware in your systems for future exploitation or to hold your data hostage for extortion. This malware can be difficult to detect and remove and may cause ongoing issues even after the initial engagement with the hacker has ended.
- Breach of trust: By hiring a hacker, you place significant trust in an individual likely operating outside the law. This creates a significant risk that the hacker may betray that trust by not delivering on their promises or using the information they’ve gained to their advantage at your expense.
Involvement with hackers can have significant and long-lasting consequences for your personal and professional reputation. The damage to your reputation can manifest in various ways, including:
- Negative public perception: Being associated with hackers can lead to a negative public perception of you or your business. People may view you as untrustworthy or unethical, which can significantly impact your ability to maintain or establish new relationships.
- Loss of trust from customers and clients: If your involvement with hackers becomes known, your customers and clients may lose faith in your ability to protect their sensitive information or to conduct business ethically. This loss of trust can result in a decrease in customer loyalty and potentially lead to lost revenue.
- Strained business relationships: Your business partners, suppliers, or other stakeholders may question your judgment and the integrity of your business if they discover your association with hackers. This can result in strained relationships and may jeopardize ongoing or future collaborations.
- Regulatory scrutiny: Engaging with hackers may draw the attention of regulatory authorities, who may view your actions as evidence of poor cybersecurity practices or illegal activities. This increased scrutiny can lead to fines, penalties, or other enforcement actions that can further damage your reputation.
- Negative impact on employee morale: Your employees may feel demoralized or disillusioned if they learn about your involvement with hackers. This can lead to decreased productivity, increased turnover, and difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.
- Long-term reputational damage: Even if your involvement with hackers remains a secret for a time, the potential for the information to be revealed in the future still exists. Once your reputation is tarnished, it can take years to rebuild trust and credibility, if it can be rebuilt at all.
When engaging with hackers, there are several financial risks that you should be aware of:
- Upfront payments with no guarantees: Hackers often require payment upfront before they begin their work and may not provide any assurance that they will deliver the expected results. This means you could potentially lose your money without receiving any benefit. They may ask for even more money once you’ve already paid them by giving you a small glimmer of hope.
- Hidden costs: Hackers may not always disclose the full extent of their fees, and they could demand additional payments during or after the completion of their services. Furthermore, you may incur costs for repairing any damage they cause to your systems or others.
- Loss of funds due to scams: Some hackers may be scammers with no intention of delivering on their promises. They may take your money and disappear, leaving you without recourse to recover your lost funds.
- Financial liability for damages: If the hacker you hire is caught or their actions are traced back to you, you could be held financially responsible for any damages they caused. This could include compensation to the affected parties and legal fees and fines related to any resulting lawsuits or regulatory actions.
- Indirect financial losses: The consequences of engaging with a hacker can extend beyond direct costs. For instance, if your business suffers a data breach due to the hacker’s actions, you may experience a loss of customers, a decline in revenue, and a negative impact on your brand’s reputation. Additionally, you may need to invest in stronger cybersecurity measures to prevent future incidents.
Potential for Retaliation
When you hire a hacker, you open yourself up to the possibility of retaliation, which can come from various sources and take different forms. Some key aspects of retaliation to consider include the following:
- Retaliation from other hackers: If the hacker you hire is caught or their actions are traced back, other hackers may target you in retaliation. This could be due to a sense of loyalty to their fellow hacker or because they view you as a potential source of income. These retaliatory attacks may involve further cyberattacks, such as data breaches, DDoS attacks, or the release of sensitive information.
- Retaliation from affected parties: The individuals or organizations affected by the hacker’s actions may also seek to retaliate against you. This could include legal action, negative publicity, or even cyberattacks. In some cases, the affected parties may have significant resources at their disposal, which could magnify the impact of their retaliation.
- Escalation of threats: Retaliation may not be limited to a single instance. Instead, it could lead to an ongoing cycle of attacks and counterattacks, escalating the situation and creating a hostile environment. This escalation can significantly harm your personal or professional life and require substantial resources to address and resolve.
- Physical threats to your safety: In extreme cases, retaliation could extend beyond the digital realm and result in physical threats. This might involve harassment, intimidation, or even violence. While such occurrences are relatively rare, the potential for physical harm underscores the serious risks of hiring a hacker.
When you hire a hacker, you enter a world fraught with ethical dilemmas. Below are some key points to consider:
- Contributing to the growth of cybercrime: By paying for illegal hacking services, you indirectly fund and encourage cybercriminals to continue their malicious activities. This perpetuates the cybercrime cycle and creates an environment where new hackers are enticed to enter the field, resulting in greater threats to businesses and individuals.
- Creating demand for illegal services: Every time someone hires a hacker, they increase the demand for these unlawful services. As demand grows, so does the supply of hackers, further exacerbating the cybercrime problem. This increased demand can also lead to the development of more sophisticated hacking tools and techniques, making it harder for individuals and organizations to defend themselves.
- Compromising your principles: When you engage with hackers, you willingly compromise your moral principles. This decision can be especially damaging if you hold a position of authority or responsibility, as it undermines the trust and confidence placed in you by others. You’ll be better equipped to make sound decisions and foster a positive reputation by maintaining high ethical standards.
- Undermining trust in the digital world: Engaging in unethical practices, such as hiring hackers, can contribute to an erosion of trust in the digital world. This loss of trust can have wide-ranging consequences as individuals and businesses become more hesitant to share information or engage in online transactions. Ultimately, this lack of trust can hinder economic growth and technological innovation.
- Impact on innocent parties: When you hire a hacker, there’s a strong likelihood that your actions will affect innocent third parties. For example, the hacker might steal sensitive information from other individuals or businesses to accomplish your goals. These actions could result in significant harm to others, including financial loss, identity theft, or reputational damage.
The experience of being hacked can be incredibly stressful, but seeking help from hackers or paying a ransom is not the solution. By being vigilant and seeking assistance through legitimate channels, you can minimize the damage and reduce the likelihood of future hacks. Adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity and following best practices will help you safeguard your accounts and data in an increasingly digital world.
If you need professional help, you can schedule a call with our company here. We are not hackers but cybersecurity professionals.
Featured image by Midjourney & Jonas Borchgrevink.