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Researchers Analyze Hacker Forums

Study Finds Hacking Discussions on the Rise. What do Hackers Discuss and Exchange in Online Forums?

Online forums can be found for just about any topic you can imagine, and it’s no different for those looking to find information and have interactive discussions on the topic of hacking. While many underground forums are hidden and not always easily discoverable and accessible to everyone, many are wide open and easy to find, and welcome newbies looking to dive into the world of hacking.

Hacker ForumsImperva, a provider of data security solutions, today released the "The State of Hacker Forums Report", a report that takes an in-depth look at the content and activities of one of the largest active hacker forums that has about 250,000 members.

Online forums are critical to the hacking community, and provide ways for hackers to learn, communicate, collaborate, recruit, and buy and sell stolen data and attack tools. Chat rooms are filled with technical subjects ranging from advice on attack planning and solicitations for help with specific campaigns. The forums are also a place where newbies can find "how-to-hack" tutorials, helping to bring them from script kiddies to seasoned hackers with more advanced skills and hacker know-how.

The State of Hacker Forums Report revealed that:

• DDoS attacks was the most discussed topic with 22% of discussions, followed by SQL injections which accounted for 19% of discussions.

• Attack discussions increased exponentially over a four-year period, growing an average of 157% year over year since 2007.

• The majority of discussions focused on "beginning" hacking, with members devoting 25% of their time sharing "how-to" tutorials and discussing basic methodologies, indicating a strong, steady interest from new talent.

• Mobile hacking has seen very strong growth in discussion forums, with iPhone hacking leading the way.

Hacker ForumsThe report notes that the exact number of hacker forums is unknown, but there are likely several thousand. Some forums are quite large with nearly 250,000 members (though many are dormant) while others are smaller and quite exclusive with just dozens of hand-selected participants. To compile the report, Imperva used content analysis to search and analyze chats by topic using specific keywords.

"Studying hacker forums is essential to providing critical insights into hacker psychology and technical strategies," explained Imperva CTO Amichai Shulman. "Ironically, hacker forums are still not well understood by a majority of the security community, so studying and quantifying what happens in these online communities is essential if we hope to reduce cybercrime."

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.