Getting into the minds of hackers
As in any conflict, "know your enemy" is a familiar mantra in cybersecurity. Many professionals aim to get into the hacking mind-set to defend against them.
CNBC asked the ethical hackers exactly how they feel about their archenemies.
"The level of sophistication of some of these attackers it's amazing," said Lee Klarich, senior vice president of product management for the security company Palo Alto Networks. "You see people figuring out how to use radio waves to transmit data, how to turn on the camera on a laptop without the light turning on so a user doesn't know it's on. These are amazingly innovative attacks."
Neal Hindocha, a senior security consultant for the cybersecurity company Trustwave, said playing a hacker—part of his job—gives him a rush.
"When you're bypassing security measures that others have put in place, it's like getting into a place where you're not supposed to be, but, of course, when we do these type of tests, we are committed to having the appropriate permissions," he said.
Hindocha showed CNBC how hackers can remotely access the screens of mobile devices to get users' PIN and other sensitive information stored on them.
But the people CNBC spoke to were keen to point out that while many cyberthreat researchers have the same skills hackers do, they use them for good.
Raj Shah, senior director of cybersecurity for Palo Alto Networks, said hacking for nefarious purposes is simply the evolution of crime.
"People used to rob banks with guns and getaway cars, and now it's easier to do it with a keyboard and software," he said. "They're some smart guys—we can't underestimate the bad guys."
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