In today’s newsletter, you said that there are active botnets and infected
machines on the internet that are tirelessly searching for unprotected
machines. Upon finding one, they will gain entry and install malware.
Since I feel the constitution allows me to ask one inane questions a day,
this is it: Why? Why do these scums of the earth want to infect simple,
personal computers with some type of virus or malware?
I can understand that there may be ways to get personal information and
items like that, but I don’t understand why dirtballs try to infect computers
with a virus just so said computer crashes or doesn’t run correctly. So again,
why would they want to do this stuff?
Spam, bots, and viruses
Why do hackers hack?
Yeah. It’s interesting. Over the years, it’s changed. In the early years (and I’m talking 50-20 years ago, at the dawn of the internet), hackers hacked simply to prove that they could; to show how cool they were, for bragging rights. The people who could take down the machines were the coolest (or whatever.)
Lately, however, and you’ve alluded to it in your question, the nature of malware has changed dramatically. Malware has become less destructive.
Don’t kill the patient
In other words, if malware crashes your machine, it’s typically an accident. The malware was poorly written and not necessarily intentional. That’s not what the malware was designed to do.
What malware is trying to do, these days, is typically two things.
1. Information theft
They install software that somehow captures your information through keyloggers or activity loggers (as you alluded, to steal your identity, steal your banking information, steal whatever). They’re basically trying to get information that the hacker can then turn around and sell.
2. Spread botnets
The other thing that they’re trying to do is install on to your machine software that you don’t notice is there. You don’t know your machine is infected, but it is infected; it becomes a zombie; it becomes part of a botnet. What ends up happening is your machine gets used to email spam.
The only thing you might notice is that perhaps your machine is a little bit slower, but the fact is there’s a machine in the background that is responding to requests from some other controller on the internet to say, “OK, now here’s a list of email addresses. Go send this message to all of these email addresses.”
The reasons spammers do that is because that allows them to distribute their spam attack across thousands, hundreds of thousands machines around the internet. That means that blocking spam is no longer as simple as just blocking an IP address. Spam is now coming from hundreds of thousands of IP addresses all around the internet.
Are you infected?
If you’re infected, one of them could be yours.
So, in reality, most malicious software these days comes down to money. Either they’re:
- Trying to gain information from your computer (that they can then turn around and sell for identity theft) or
- They’re trying to hijack your machine (set up botnets so they can turn around and send spam and try and sell whatever it is spam tries to sell)