Why people create computer viruses – seven deadly reasons
By Greg Collins, CEO
One of the most common questions we get asked by our tech support customers who hire us for virus removal is this: why do people create computer viruses? The answer is a complicated one that involves psychology and the darker side of human nature.
In the interest of simplicity, the word “virus” may sometimes be referring to other types of malware including worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, and rootkits.
The seven deadly reasons for creating a computer virus:
Boredom: Young people, in this first level of severity, can sometimes simply make poor choices. The ones with inquisitive minds sometimes try their hand at hacking, or “playfully” tinker with joke viruses.
Curiosity: They know it killed the cat, but some people just “need” to find out if their virus will spread. They don’t always realize the damage they do until the virus is “in the wild” and it’s too late.
Revenge: People with very basic coding or hacking skills sometimes join a cause and their motivation is to get back at an individual, corporation, or government.
Greed: Much of the most common malware is designed to get people to pay for bogus software, steal credit card numbers, or even get passwords to take money from bank accounts.
Power: The need for it can be a compelling and destructive force. Hacking and creating viruses to take over computers is never enough; they will always need a bigger thrill.
Aggression: When unchanneled, excessive aggressive traits can be very dangerous to humanity. Think of the videos we have all seen of baseball players with “roid rage.”
Sociopaths: The people likely to create the most destructive types of malware, although they prefer causing physical violence to animals and eventually to people.[1, 2]
Luckily, there are many tech support and antivirus companies trying to put a stop to, or at least slow down the cavalcade of new viruses. There are well over one million viruses now “in the wild.” Computer repair is becoming increasingly more difficult due to rootkit and stealth viruses. To combat these threats, tech support workers must know the inner workings of various versions of Microsoft Windows and have the ability to detect malware without relying on software scanners.
The outsourcing of unqualified support technicians by many of the largest providers is certainly not helping the situation. Unfortunately, virus scanners will never be able to detect all of the current threats, especially since so many people catch them from one wrong click. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnFHMjj5Ly0
Yesterday’s playful teenage hackers are today stealing billions and trying to shut down power grids.  That said, there are plenty of “white-hat” hackers who certainly don’t mean any harm. They tend to be bright and not necessarily bad kids who can make some bad decisions, hopefully growing out of it before something bad happens. However, there are no “white-hat” computer virus coders. It is taboo for security firms to write malicious code even to test antivirus software. They are written by those who choose to destroy rather than create.
- Ascione, F. R. 1995. Domestic violence and cruelty to animals. Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on Family Violence, Durham, NH, July 24, 1995.