Life of a Hacker: What It Is Like to Be a Cybercriminal

Cyber incidents hit the headlines every day with black hat hackers playing by different rules, let me try to draw a fictional scenario.

Your look

Complete anonymity is the most important thing in this shady activity. The starting point is to assess your appearance. You need to look typical and inconspicuous. Forget about offbeat hairstyle (Mohawk, long and dyed hair), bright or unusual clothes, such as heavy metal style outfits. You must look tidy, stylish, and businesslike. Although they say clothes do not make a man, people still judge you by your looks when they first meet you.

Legal literacy

Next, you should examine the appropriate legislation to be aware of the penalties for felonies you might commit in the future. Law savviness will come in handy under tough circumstances.

Mobile phones

Also, rethink the way you use your mobile phone. This is the biggest scourge of the modern criminal world. All major investigations involve phone tapping and other types of mobile subscriber surveillance and tracking techniques. You can switch to a smartphone with crypto messengers installed and use it for online activity only, preferably with a separate mobile broadband modem without a SIM card in the device itself. You should replace the modem with a new one every so often. If you badly need to make a phone call, use a burner phone. All the SIM cards you use should be in no way associated with your real identity.

ID cards

Get yourself a fake ID and a phony driver’s license. This will help conceal your personally identifiable data that you should do your best to safeguard. Here is an example of why it matters: while shadowing a vehicle, detectives can turn to road police for assistance in identifying the suspect. You think it is just a commonplace pull-over to have a look at your driver’s license, but you are actually already on the hook.

Social networks

If you have social network accounts, you should delete them. Alternatively, you can provide misinformation in them, for instance, by replacing your photos with someone else’s. When law enforcement is going after you, the first thing they do is analyze social media. Furthermore, social networks can unveil your IP address, which can lead detectives to your mobile broadband modem that is always with you.


Pay special attention to the way you move around. If you drive a car, it should not be your property officially. Act unpredictably when going: drive through a yellow light, and make abrupt and unexpected turns once in a while. Doing so will help you figure out whether you are being followed. Also, look in your rear-view mirror at least as often as you look ahead of you.

If you walk, that is certainly not as convenient as driving, but it is so much easier to protect your anonymity that way. You can easily and quickly get on a taxi or public transport so that whoever is watching you will have some hard time doing their job.


A computer continues to be the main instrument for nearly all shady cyber activities, be it malware spreading, DDoSing or phishing. You should take this facet of your purported work seriously. First, prepare the machine itself by extracting the camera and microphone out of it. Choose a Linux-based operating system, such as Tails. Then, get ready to go online – that is the most important part. Refrain from using cable Internet – go for wireless modems instead. You also need to familiarize yourself with the basic applications and tools that provide anonymity and security of your computing experience. These include Tor Browser, VPN services, Jabber, TrueCrypt, OTR (Off-the-Record Messaging), etc.


The way you behave outdoors, as well as your communication with family and girls, should not give anyone any clues about what you actually do. Be sure to think of a life story that you can fluently tell people as if it were true.


When traveling by train or airplane, keep in mind that all your data stays in their database. If someone else is going with you, never request neighboring seats during check-in; otherwise, those people might get into the spotlight of law enforcement as well. This is particularly important if you are traveling with fellow hackers.

Being sober

Sobriety is a prerequisite to success. A befogged mind will prevent you from making the right decisions quickly, so do not abuse drugs and alcohol. You can and you must relax, but you should not be in a state of permanent intoxication. This way, it is very easy to lose vigilance.


Your place of residence should not match your official address. Renting an apartment is the best option because you can easily move to a new place and use your fake ID for the rental agreement. Once you get your first easy money, do not rush into buying real estate – it might cause additional problems.

To recap, a successful black hat hacker has to be crafty, brave, dangerous, fast, sober, polite, strong, and smart.

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