Information Week recently ran an interesting cover article about the hacker economy. Hacking is no longer a teenager hobby sport. It's organized crime. Lots of money is at stake. According to the article, the market for stolen identities has reached $1 Billion (citing statistics from IDC). Talk about a trend. In one of our recent Small Business Trends Radio programs, my guest, Tom Raef of eBased Security, pointed out that small businesses are often the target of these hacking criminal gangs. Some of the points he covered in the show include: What hackers want. A hacker's ultimate goal is to gain control of your system and possess the ability to be able to perform their desired tasks in stealth mode. Why? The bottom line is money. They earn their income by sending spam from your computer which conceals their identity and they record keystrokes to acquire passwords and credit card numbers. What do they do with the information? Brace yourself. The information that is gained by controlling your system is likely to be sold. The hackers will post credit card numbers for free. Others use these numbers, verify their authenticity, and comment. Once this is done, the hacker's value increases as the information he is selling is proved legitimate. And there's a lot more in the show. One of the helpful points he explains is a simple technique you can perform to check your computer system to see if it is being improperly accessed by someone through a backdoor somewhere. For solo business owners or very small businesses with no in-house IT support, you may have to perform this kind of check on your own to troubleshoot and nip problems in the bud. Go here to learn about and listen to: Why Hackers Love Small Businesses.