Hacking is slowly becoming a personal enterprise, as suggested by the launch of the website Hacker's List.
While most news stories on hacking have been on attacks carried out against huge corporations, such as the recent ones on Sony Pictures Entertainment, there has been an expanding cottage industry where ordinary people hire hackers for various purposes.
Through the Hacker's List website, hackers are matched up with people looking to hire their services for a variety of jobs, which include taking down unflattering pictures online, gaining access to the email accounts of others and breaking into the database of a company.
In just a couple of months of operations since it was launched in November, more than 500 hacking jobs have been posted for bidding on Hacker's List, with hackers then vying to be chosen as the person to carry out the job.
The services are carried out anonymously, with the operator of the website collecting certain fees upon the completion of each assignment. The website holds the payment of the customer in escrow until the completion of the requested task.
Offers for hacking services, with prices ranging from $100 to $5,000, have come in from around the world.
One example of a customer on the website, from Australia, posted an offer of up to $2,000 to extract the client list from the database of a competitor.
Such job requests on the website shows how commonplace such low-profile hack attacks have become, along with the corresponding challenge placed upon authorities for enforcing cybersecurity.
It is still too early to call the success of Hacker's List, with many of the job requests posted on the website still receiving no bids from hackers. Only about 40 hackers have signed up for the website, but there are already 844 users that have registered to post jobs.
Hacker's List, however, did receive a favorable review from hackerforhirereview.com, which is a website that specializes in the assessment of the legitimacy of hacker-for-hire services. Hacker's List received the top rating due to the implemented system that limits the capabilities of both the customer and the hacker to take advantage of each other.
While some of the jobs requested on the website are certainly illegal, the founders of the website claim that they are shielded from legal liabilities because they neither endorse nor condone illegal activities.
All users signing up for the website must agree to the terms and conditions section for the website, which spans 10 pages. The section forbids the use of the website for illegal purposes.