Hackers are cleaning up selling back-doors to government intelligence agencies.
The New York Times found two Italian hackers working in Malta who have been making a tidy sum selling secret flaws in computer code.
It names Luigi Auriemma, 32, and Donato Ferrante, 28, who sell technical details of such vulnerabilities to countries that want to break into the computer systems of foreign adversaries.
The Times said that big buyers include the NSA and the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, although Auriemma and Ferrante did not confirm that these were their customers.
Apparently if you can find a zero day flaw in software it is better that you do not tell the software company, but contact your local spook and let them offer a bid.
Vole sharply increased the amount it was willing to pay for such flaws, raising its top offer to $150,000, but that is still not enough.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Israel, Britain, Russia, India and Brazil are some of the biggest spenders. North Korea is in the market, as are some Middle Eastern intelligence services. Countries in the Asian Pacific, including Malaysia and Singapore, are also buying.
The spooks are accessible through online brokers. The most famous is one in Bangkok who goes by “the Grugq” on Twitter. His business suffered after he went public last year.