Krebs kicked off the second day of the Microsoft BlueHat IL conference as the “Mystery Keynote” speaker.
Krebs kicked off the second day of the Microsoft BlueHat IL conference as the “Mystery Keynote” speaker.

Brian Krebs, independent investigative journalist, kicked off the second day of the Microsoft BlueHat IL conference as the “Mystery Keynote” speaker, expanding on the distinct characteristics of today's cyber hackers, called “supervillains”.

Krebs believes that advanced societies have to become better at identifying these kids, and even try to cultivate their talent (similar to the NFL), in order to use them for good. “Perhaps Israelis deal with it better, but the US is raising [more and more] cyber-criminals than they used to. The biggest threat is homegrown threat, from young men, mostly in the US.”

Krebs has interviewed many teenage hackers, and has found a common theme in their backgrounds. Many are brought up in physically or mentally abusive families, or more commonly, come from privileged and wealthy families, and were raised not by their parents, but by the internet. They are introduced to cyber-crime forums, find communities that they don't have in real life, and are soon earning more than their parents.

“Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we live in the era of cyber supervillains,” said Krebs. “In today's world, teens wield so much more power today than they once used to. They have a “deep understanding of computers, networking and programming. Some are solving problems that companies don't even know they had. However, left to their own devices, things can also go terribly wrong.”

“Upwards of 90 percent of kids who are caught go back to what they're doing,” said Krebs. “It's a lucrative industry, and they know how to do it very well. The hacks get increasingly extreme, in order for the hackers to experience that same ‘high.'”

Having said all of that, though, Krebs is “very optimistic about the cyber-security industry. It's a great time to be in security.”