5 Reasons Hackers Use Malware To Screw Up Your Computer

Why do hackers make that stupid malware that screws up your computer?

Whenever I am discussing viruses and malware, there is a question that almost always comes up. That question is “Why do they write that stuff to screw up everyone’s computer?”  “Why would anyone do such a thing?”  “Don’t they have anything better to do with their time?” There are several reasons these hackers (more correctly called crackers) do this. Some of those reasons are more sinister than you may suspect.

The first and very common reason for the existence of malware is the hacker wants to be famous.

One very common reason hackers create malware that messes up your computer is for notariety. They want to be famous among other hackers. Many hackers that use malware that messes up your computer are just trying to impress their friends. They try to hack as many computers and systems as they can just for the bragging rights.

Many of these types of hackers are really not very good. Often referred to as script kiddies, they just download the viruses, programs, and malware that is online and use exploits that are developed by others. Don’t let the term script kiddie confuse you. It has more to do with the childish reasoning and lack of true skill than age. Some script kiddies are old, while some truly gifted computer programmers and hackers (in the good use of the term) are very young. Some don’t know much more about programming than I do (which I admit is not much).

This type is often the group most responsible for messing up other computers. They often simply lack the skill to do it without screwing up everything. It’s the good ones you really have to worry about. You won’t know your computer and information was compromised.

The Second reason hackers use malware is they want your personal information.

Another common reason hackers create maleware is to steal the information off your computer. Tojans and keyloggers are among the software they use as well as phishing sites designed to look like legitimate sites. Their goal is to get credit card numbers and social security numbers that they can use or even more likely sell to someone else.

They use phishing sites to capture user names and passwords. Banks, credit card companies, and even social sites may be imperssonated to get information. Your email address may be one of the most valuable because once in your email account, they can find what sites you use and often get the password and username reset using that email address.

The third reason is the hacker wants to use your computer to send spam.

Very commonly, once hackers have installed malware on a computer, they use it to send spam. Spammers have to keep switching where they send spam from. Once internet security companies and services determine a source of spam, they blacklist it to stop the spam. Anything coming from that IP source won’t get passed on. So, spammers need a continous source of new internet addresses to send from. Malware (sometimes installed as a trojan by the user) lets them use your computer as an email relay.

linkjacking + fake malware scan
Image by World’s Saddest Man via Flickr

Other than slowing down a computer, this can go unnoticed by a casual user as their email is usually handled somewhere else. However, a company or business that has a dedicated internet connection and IP address can suddenly find that none of their legitimate email is getting through. It can also do damage to a businesses reputation.

The fourth reason is malware allows the hackers to use your computer to attack other computers.

One of the most insideous reasons hackers use malware is to help attack other computers or systems. Sometimes, it is just using your accounts to add more people to the list of computers hacked like in the first reason. Once your computer is infected, malware sends itself to others in your email or social media sites to infect them (using your identity). Worms use your computer to try and infect other computers or the whole network in a company.

On a larger scale, large numbers of computers that have been taken over my malware (and have unsuspecting users) are used to launch more serious attacks against major networks or even government computers. The large numbers of infected computers (even into the hundreds of thousands millions) allow them to disrupt routers, servers, and firewalls using a denial of service attack. This can make popular websites unavailable. It may allow them to penetrate the internet security systems used while the attack is ongoing.

In effect, it turns your computer into a weapon they can use for their own purpose. Which brings us to the last and most sinister reason for malware. One that computer security experts are only really becoming aware of.

The final reason we have so much malware now is that internet crime is becoming an organized business.

One group is selling the malware and tools to hack websites to insert malware that infects the visitors. The next group buys that software and uses it to create  a network of zombie or botnet computers that they control. They then actually sell the use of that botnet to other criminals, either for the information on the computers themselves or to attack other systems. There are criminal botnets of computers larger than the legitimate computing clouds used by Google, Amazon or other major network clouds.

That is something I find truly scary. You may spend $500-$2000 on a computer system while someone else is using it for their profit. The numbers are really staggering (only the national debt seems to be expanding faster nowadays).  Like I said before, if they are good, you don’t know your computer is part of this criminal organization. There is a lot of software that is difficult for anti-virus software to detect.

You want to do everything you can to keep malware off your computer.

And if you can’t keep it off, know how or where to get the malware removed as soon as possible before your computer can start on it’s life of crime. Subscribe to this site so you can learn how and be warned of things that may make it easy for hackers to get malware on your computer. Email your friends about this site. Every computer that gets infected just gives the bad guys more money to do it some more.

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