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The real reason there are so many viruses and hackers

If it seems like you are hearing about more hacks, data breaches, viruses, malware, cyberattacks and identity theft these days, it's because there are more incidents than ever. Yes, cybercrime is indeed on the rise.  That's probably because people are putting more of their life and finances online with each passing year. In other words, there are just many more targets for hackers to attack.

These threats are far from a secret. Software companies, gadget manufactures, banks, retailers and even hospitals and schools are locked in an arms race with hackers to constantly plug up security holes. Meanwhile, clever hackers push the envelope coming up with innovative new ways to trick people out of money and information. Sadly, far too many of us make it far too easy for crooks to have their way.

Advanced hackers are making tools that let intermediate or even beginning hackers pull off tough jobs. That means more hackers with advanced tools are swarming the Internet, so chances good that are sooner or later you will be a target.

But even as easy as it may seem, cybercrime is not without risks to the crooks. Earlier I told you about one identity thief sent to prison but not before stealing $1.4 million. Or the Alabama woman accused of a $335,000 scam over two years. For all the work and the danger involved, you might expect that there must be a reward payout that makes the risks of breaking the law worth it. And it turns out there is.

A security research firm called Trustwave did a detailed analysis of how much hacker tools cost on the black market vs. how much a hacker can make with them. When you see these numbers, you might be tempted to consider a life of cybercrime.

Next page: How much can a hacker make?
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