Test-driving a hacker-for-hire website

I registered for a website that matches the hacker-seeking with those looking to provide hacker services. This is what I found.

Hoodie hacker dude
Credit: Thinkstock

Are those pesky hackers always letting you down? You need a simple hack completed – like a homework grade altered, access to a few movie studio emails, or a new credit history – but just can't find the right person to get the job done properly?

Well, dot-com to the rescue, because a new website promises to match hackers with employers.

Hackers List is a website that promises to connect those who require professional hackers with contractors proficient in the hacking arts.

Trustworthy hackers are hard to find, the site claims. This service aims to correct that problem through vetting and other customer service tools.

My new career

Now, before you discount this website as a wacky joke, I can actually vouch for the site functioning, because, in the interests of journalism, I decided to become a white-hat application tester for a few days. I listed myself there and received three gig offers.

White-hat

I registered myself as white-hat application tester—or good-guy hacker. In other words, the kind of hacker who finds vulnerabilities on behalf of legitimate businesses before the computer criminals can get in. The tester finds problems and tells developers about them so they can be corrected.

And I've written enough app reviews in my career to consider myself a bit of an application tester.

My inbox, over the next few days, however, didn't exactly flow with warm and fuzzy tester jobs. The jobs I got offered were somewhat less salubrious.

The first was from someone who wanted me to gain access to a Twitter account without resetting the password; the second came from folks who required an expert with "Facebook password hacking skills"; and my third was someone who asked: "Please let me know if you can do this and how much it would cost," but neglected to describe the dastardly deed required.

I declined them all by not responding. I then closed my account.

Hacker List

Matthew Goldstein has corresponded with the site's owners, and in a New York Times article he says 500 hacking gigs have been pitched thus far on the site.

Hacker List says that it does check out its contractors, and giving the site the benefit of the doubt, in my case, I think my account may have been closed at one point during my investigation, because I couldn't access the profile mid-way through. Not sure what that means about my job prospects in the future.

Hacker job websites may be a trending phenomenon. Neighborhood Tracker is another site that may be worth checking out if you're looking for hackers—legitimate, white-hatted ones, I will add.

Browsing

A scroll through the Hacker List site does show a preponderance of iffy jobs, though. Here's a selection, along with their pay:

  • Help to log into my fiancée's two Gmail accounts: $200 - $300
  • Possible infidelity: $300 - $500
  • Clean driving record: $100 - $1,000
  • Defamatory blog post removal and de-indexing: $100 - $1,000
  • Get a copy of a program from a PC of a small company in Italy: $100 - $1,000

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