What is the motivation behind cybercrime?

For quite some time the CTS security team has been releasing cyber security tips to help users stay safe online. We have covered topics including mobile computers, the Internet of Things, passwords, phishing, and malware. There are a lot of cyber dangers in our online lives but why is that? Why do people and organizations attack us in so many ways and with such determination?

Here are the most common reasons why attackers commit cybercrimes.

For fun & the challenge
Though this is one of the original reasons for the cyber attacks a few decades ago, it is much less common today. This isn’t to say that those following other motivations (Example: money) don’t like the challenge as well but there are numerous free and legal options to practice these skills.
 
For money
Performing cyber attacks for money has seen a large increase in the past few years as organized crime has become involved. Attacks for money range from stealing your banking credentials, using your system to mine Bitcoins, or sending you unsolicited advertising for any number of products or services, many of which aren’t legitimate.
 
For intellectual property
Nation states have been found to be gathering intellectual property from private companies competing with their nation’s industry. By stealing research and development information, nation states can provide better competition to those that develop the products in the first place. By just learning when new products are being released before everyone else, nation states can time the financial markets  (Exampel: NASDAQ) to make large amounts of money.
 
Hacktivism
Those that have a political or other cause they support sometimes use hacking skills to attempt to further that cause. This attempt is often done by attacking the opposition to their ideas or bringing attention to their cause.
 
To use your system
Some attackers don’t want the information you have but instead want to use your computer system. They can use your system to launch an attack against their real target, use your network connection to share illegal material (Example: Fake pharmacology advertisements on your website), or use your processor to meet their ends (Example: crack passwords or mine Bitcoins).
 
To disrupt
Several attackers have a primary goal of preventing people from using sites or services. These kinds of attacks are called Denial of Service (DoS) attacks as they deny legitimate users from access or using a particular service. There are several ways to accomplish this goal but the most common way is to use several systems that have been compromised to flood the target service with network traffic. A good analogy is having numerous people (the attackers) talking all at once to a bank teller. That teller would have a hard time hearing and assisting any legitimate customers that attempt to talk to them.