Developers and pentesters are the most in-demand IT professionals on the dark web

7 months ago · 0 comments

Experts told who the underground employers are looking for and what salaries they offer.

According to a Kaspersky Lab report, malware developers and pentesters are in high demand on ad sites on the dark web. Researchers analyzed 227,000 vacancies in 155 forums between 2020 and 2022 and identified some features.

A special requirement for many vacancies is the absence of problems with psychoactive substances. Also in one example, "team skills, stable communication, no alcohol or drug addiction" are required.

Despite the widespread belief that attackers can make much more money by using their hacking skills for evil rather than good, Kaspersky Lab found no significant difference between the median wages of IT professionals in the underground and legal labor markets.

Crime doesn't pay that well

Developers were the most sought-after candidates on the darknet forums, accounting for 61% of the total listings. According to experts, this may indicate that the complexity of cyberattacks is growing. The higher demand for developers can be explained by the need to create and customize new, more complex tools. Pentesters came in second with 16% and designers came in third with 10%.

The salaries for these jobs also reflected the in-demand programming opportunities. The highest monthly salary was $20,000 per month for a developer. However, the average monthly salary is:

Reverse engineer - $4000;
Hacker - $2500;
Developer - $2000;
Analyst - $1750;
IT administrator - $1500;
Tester - $1500;
Designer - $1300.

Also, "employers" offer various bonuses and allowances. For example, a pentester might be paid a monthly salary of $10,000 along with a percentage of profits made from selling access to compromised organization infrastructure or sensitive data, a percentage of a ransom, and other ways to monetize the hack.

In addition, similar to the legal processes for hiring IT specialists on the dark web, employers provide:

paid test tasks, interviews and probationary periods;
paid vacation and sick leave;
salary increase;
career opportunities;
flexible work schedule.

Some ads contained vague descriptions of the benefits of the job, such as "cohesive team" (8% of ads) and "interesting tasks" (7%).

“Many are turning to the shadow market in search of additional income in times of crisis,” the experts said, adding that the number of resumes on the dark web increased dramatically at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.