What Are Computer Viruses
Viruses are, without doubt, the bane of the computing world. A computer virus can be described as a malicious piece of software that has been designed to self replicate and propagate while making unauthorized modifications to computers and computer systems. I have previously written an article in which I talk about the ten signs of malware infection in computers. I have also talked about ways through which you can protect your computer from viruses. So, why do people create computer viruses? Read on to find out more;
Reasons behind the creation of Computer Viruses
The fact that criminal elements have hijacked the internet is not that surprising. After all, so much of the world’s commerce now takes place online, and the internet has become the world’s foremost medium for communication, education, news and many other activities. These, therefore, are rich pickings for the criminally enclined. In any case, Here are a few of the reasons why people create malware;
The first major motivation for people who create computer viruses is financial gain. These criminal elements are on the hunt for personal financial data, which they then use to steal money from their victims.
The people behind the creation of malware use this information to gain access to your bank by making replica credit cards, transferring money from your account or making online purchases.
Phishing is one of the main ways through which people gain access to confidential personal data, including banking details. If you need to learn more about phishing, feel free to read this article. You can also read this article if you want to get acquainted with an example phishing email.
To gain access to personal data
Today, the digital world is overflowing with personal data in one form or the other. Just ask yourself, how many times have you signed up for one service or the other using your name, date of birth, email address and other personal information.
We have already mentioned that people who create malware are motivated by the desire to steal personal banking details.
The data that is stolen using malware is, in any case, not limited to financial data. Give these people access to personal information, and there is no end to the things that they can do with it; from creating fake identities to blackmail.
Why do people create computer viruses? The thrill of the hunt
There are also other people who create viruses and hack into computers for the simple thrill of the hunt. These are the kind of people who consider themselves to be artists and for whom gaining illegal access into other people’s computers is a matter of pride.
If you have been following the news, you will have heard of the Anonymous group. There are many others like it, all of which claim to be fighting one injustice or the other.
These so called “hacktivists” have gained quite a reputation across the globe, and have contributed to the glamorization of hacking that has long been perpetuated by Hollywood.
Anonymous, as an example, is viewed by many as a counterweight to the perceived oppression that is perpetrated by governments against their own citizens.
If you have been following the news, you will be aware of allegations that Russia hacked into the servers of the Democratic Party in the United States in order to influence the outcome of the election. Although debate continues to rage around this issue, it is clear that computers and the internet have become a prime hunting ground for groups that are involved in espionage.
While you and I probably have nothing of value that can be exploited in this way, the fact remains that hackers who break into our computers can gain access to potentially incriminating information.
Another famously reported case of hacking involves Israel, which stood accused of having spread malicious pieces of software that were aimed at disrupting operations at Iran’s nuclear facilities. In 2011, it was reported that Israel had successfully tested a computer worm that had been designed to cause disruptions to Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. The Stuxnet worm is reported to have caused Iranian nuclear reactors to spin out of control.
Hijacking of Computers and Websites
People who create viruses also sometimes design their malicious pieces of software to take control of unguarded computers, which they then use for various malicious purposes.
This can include any of the above explained reasons; espionage, the thrill of the hunt and to for financial gain. Hackers also use unsuspecting people’s computers to spread their malicious pieces of software.
It is not uncommon, as an example, for viruses to hijack websites, which they then use as platforms to spread to other computers. Visitors to these sites whose computers are not protected are, therefore, at risk of having their PCs infected.
Protect Yourself from Malware
Hopefully, I have answered the question “Why do people create computer viruses?” in the above article. With so many threats lurking across the internet, it is important for you to protect yourself and your computer. There are many ways through which this can be done.
The good news is that despite the fact that there is so much malware lurking across the internet, you can take commonsense measures to protect yourself.
This includes by having a strong antivirus, and making sure that it has the latest virus definitions. You can also protect yourself by making sure that you have a firewall on your computer. This prevents unauthorized access to your computer. Windows comes with a build in firewall, and you should make sure that this is always enabled.
Finally, whatever you do, you should never open suspicious email attachments. This applies even if they promise you millions of dollars in inheritance from your long lost uncle in Burkina Faso. (You will be surprised at the number of people who do open these kinds of attachments, despite the fact that they never had the said uncle in Burkina Faso.) Check out this article for a list of the best antimalware programs that can be found out there.