The wait is finally over—we’re happy to announce that the 2023 edition of Inside the Mind of a Hacker is here! When Bugcrowd first started releasing this annual report years ago, it quickly gained popularity across the security industry as the gold standard for demographics, trends, and motivations within the hacker community. We’re sure this year’s version won’t disappoint. 

This edition analyzed 1000 survey responses from hackers on the Bugcrowd Platform, in addition to millions of proprietary data points on vulnerabilities collected across thousands of programs. 

We’re happy to see that some of the dated stereotypes of hackers (we’re looking at you, basements and hoodies) are going away. In fact, 89% of hackers believe that companies are increasingly viewing hackers in a more favorable light. This report continues to clear through the fog and mystery around hackers and crowdsourced security as a whole, helping organizations understand how to partner with hackers as an extension of their often under-resourced security team. 

Another exciting part of this edition is a special feature on security in the age of generative AI. The internet is full of fear-mongering articles covering the terrifying consequences AI could have on cybersecurity, but what about ways hackers can use AI to make the world a safer place? We dig into how hackers are using AI technologies to increase the value of their work.

Key Learnings

1. Even in an uncertain economy, the motivations of hackers remain altruistic. 

There is a misconception that hackers, even the ethical kind, are only after money. For many of them, hacking is their full-time career, so of course financial factors are major motivators. However, time and time again, data shows that the heart of hacking is much more complex. 75% of hackers identify non-financial factors as their main motivators to hack and 87% of hackers believe that reporting a critical vulnerability is more important than trying to make money from it. 

2. Top hackers consider generative AI as a tool to leverage, not a threat. 

72% of hackers do not believe AI will ever replicate their human creativity. Although some hackers are concerned about generative AI making their skills irrelevant, many of Bugcrowd’s top hackers disagreed. According to Nerdwell, “If you’re stagnant and don’t grow your skills, then maybe you should be worried about AI, but if you embrace it and use it as a tool, then I believe you’ll likely become even more valuable.” 

3. CISOs are taking generative AI seriously.  

This edition spotlights two CISOs and surveys many others. We found that across the board, CISOs are already considering the potential cybersecurity risks of generative AI. They are approaching these concerns from a technical side, such as data poisoning and prompt injection concerns, and wider issues, such as implications on privacy and traceability. 

Besides new statistics and learnings like the ones in the infographic above, you can also expect to have a little bit of fun reading this report. From in-depth interviews to quizzes to posters, Inside the Mind of a Hacker feels more like a thought provoking magazine than a traditional report. Download it today to learn why organizations can trust hackers to secure their future with confidence.