Why Do Hackers Even Create Viruses?

Computer viruses are hardly a new problem to the computer world, but why do they exist? Is it just to steal people's identity and financial information? If so, why are so many viruses convoluted about the process and harmful? There's a lot more to viruses and other types of malicious software (malware) than the money, and to understand why the infections happen is to learn just a bit more about avoiding them. Take a look at a few motives and philosophies behind virus design and get a better look at the nuisances that plague the Internet.

Follow The Money: Theft Through Networks

Despite wider availability of technology and more personal computer options, there are still many vulnerable people on the Internet. Whether it's a new computer user who doesn't know what not to click on or a novice software pirate sifting through the illegal parts of Internet downloads, there's still a lot of dangers that users can stumble into. 

These newer users are easy targets for hackers looking for an easy source of income. New Internet users, for example, may download a virus that looks like a legitimate program that they need. The fake program could ask for personal information directly or may simply install monitoring techniques such as key loggers to record typed information as it's entered. 

Information stealing has a pretty obvious goal: to take your money. But in many cases, stolen identity isn't actually used by the hackers who snagged your information in the first place. Information such as Social Security numbers (SSNs), maiden names, financial account information, or addresses are often traded among hackers or sold on the black market, which complicates the trail of theft. 

Such hacking can be difficult to track down or prosecute due to differences in international law. The problem isn't so much the differences between the US and other countries as a few specific countries (e.g. China, Russia, India, etc.) have lax laws or the inability to track down criminals at a certain level of sophistication. Although the US has stronger law enforcement, it also has a sophisticated population of hackers that are sometimes a few steps ahead of detection techniques. In a way, hackers continue to write the rules and the protective agencies must catch up, although catching up can be faster than some hackers plan for.

Simple Mischief With Big Results

Not all viruses are designed to steal information for theft. Just as some criminals lash out at society for fun, out of anger, or many other reasons, the number of reasons for hacking can be just as countless.

Many of the reasons can be filed under "because they can" and the need to test a hacker's abilities. Some hackers simply want to increase their ability in programming, problem solving, and planning, and the unfortunate victims may be institutions that should have powerful security. Other hackers may want to see how far their virus will get, which can mean infecting a lot of basic Internet users in the process.

It's hard to say whether viruses for mischief have decreased or if the for-profit hackers are just far higher in volume. No matter the reason, you should treat every virus infection as a possible identity threat. You will first want to invest in some good anti-malware and anti-virus software. And if you use your computers for shopping or finances, simply notify your banking institutions and credit bureaus if something is amiss. That's it. As long as you notify financial institutions quickly, strange activity can be blocked and your life less annoyed. Contact a virus removal professional, like Microworx​, to handle the technical side of removing viruses and defending against future infections.