Take a moment to consider how technology has changed the way companies do business.
Employees can now work from the comfort of their homes using laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. The rise of cloud computing, in which companies buy computing capacity on demand, means that businesses don’t have to build huge data centers.
Information technology is more convenient than ever before. But it’s not just businesses that are benefiting. So too are hackers and cyber criminals who can more easily wreak havoc on corporations.
Former high-profile hacker turned security expert Mark Abene explained Thursday how hacking culture evolved over time from mostly amateurish hijinks in the 1980s to “hacking for profit” today. At a conference in San Francisco hosted by Internet-performance and security startup CloudFlare, he said that motivations started to change in the 1990s with the advent of more powerful home computers that gave hackers better tools to infiltrate corporate networks.
That ultimately set off the transition to the widespread and theft-oriented hacking of today.
The shift became even more pronounced in the 2000s because the Internet’s rise made it possible for hackers to more easily break into corporate infrastructure and steal financial information. The Internet made it possible for hackers to accomplish what was impossible in 1980s and most of the 1990s, he said.
But all is not lost. Abene said the rise of machine learning algorithms has made it easier for businesses to detect unusual behaviors on their networks and pinpoint bad actors. Applying data science to cybersecurity has the potential to better protect businesses, he said.
Here’s hoping the hackers don’t benefit from these same cutting-edge technologies.
Jonathan Vanian is a writer at Fortune. Email him. Share this essay.