Over the past couple of months, we've seen many instances where hackers have used their expertise to make political or social statements. Do these attacks imply a shift in focus among cybercriminals and a move away from organised crime looking for financial gains?
I don't believe that any recent increase in hacktivism is fuelled by disaffected criminals, or criminals deciding to use their skills for another purpose. The rise in hacktivism is a phenomenon that is apart from the ongoing criminal theft of data and abuse of systems. The people taking part in hacktivism are often young people with varying levels of computer skills who are getting involved either for a political cause or, in the case of, say, LulzSec, simply for fun.
Their activities are still illegal and in some cases more harmful than more traditional online criminal activity, but they are not the same people as the ones behind Koobface, Zeus or SpyEye, for example. They are not the same people who are selling fake pharmaceuticals or sending phishing emails. They are not even the same people as the ones who broke into Google, RSA, Lockheed Martin, Epsilon or any one of the other advanced persistent threat cases I could mention.