Why do people make these viruses and worms? How do they get distributed so
widely? Are people forwarding them? Is there some database of emails that
malicious people have? What do they gain by sending worms and viruses?
“Why” has actually changed over the years. It turns out that viruses have
become a big business. Yes, there are people making money writing and
distributing viruses. How is that possible, you ask?
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Why do people make these viruses and worms? What do they gain by
sending worms and viruses?
Originally viruses were mostly the product of individuals who just wanted to
cause trouble, make a name for themselves by breaking things, or who were
trying to get some kind of revenge against someone else. They did it for “fun”,
for recognition among their peers, or “just because”.
While those folks are still out there I don’t believe that they represent
the majority of virus sources any longer. We’re now seeing the “professional”
virus writer emerge.
viruses then you machine may very well be sending out massive amounts of spam
Here’s how that works:
Someone creates a virus that does two things: propagates itself (more on that
in a second) and installs well-hidden remote-control software on the machines
it infects. A “zombie” machine or “bot machine” has just been created that can
be controlled by the virus writer.
Once enough zombies are created the virus-writer has an army of machines at
his command – often referred to a botnet or zombie army. The virus writer is
now a “bot herder” as he is able to control or “herd” that network of
He then sells the “services” of his network of zombies. Typically to
The zombie network then starts sending out massive amounts of spam.
The spammers make money because just enough people actually buy the stuff
that spam is selling.
The anti-virus companies eventually identify and block the virus that
started all this.
The virus writer writes a new virus, and the process starts all over
How do they get distributed so widely?
For example, if you’ve recently been notified that you’ve received some kind
of electronic greeting card from a friend; particularly if you’ve gotten
lots of notifications and you’re getting cards from “a friend”, “a
mate”, “a classmate” and so on, then your seeing one of the a current viruses
try to propagate.
The infected machines using their spam-sending abilities to send out copies
of themselves via email. And enough people are still unprotected and fall for
the fake email that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of machine get
Are people forwarding them?
Not intentionally, no. But if your machine is infected with one of these
viruses then your machine may very well be sending out massive amounts of spam
without your knowledge or direct participation.
Needless to say, that’s a very strong argument for making sure you’re
your computer safe on the internet.
Is there some database of emails that malicious people
In fact there are probably thousands of such databases. And like me, your
email address is probably in some, if not most of them.
These databases are generated several ways.
The most common includes looking for anything that appears to be an email
address on web pages, news groups and other public forums. That’s one reason I
so strongly recommend you never post your email address in a comment on a blog,
for example. (NOTE: that submitting it when requested or required may not be a
problem – what’s important is that it not show up when the comment is
Another that’s less common as email programs have gotten smarter are viruses
that extract the email addresses from the address books on infected
But there doesn’t even have to be a database involved. A lot of spam is sent
to email addresses that don’t exist because the spammers just try lots of
common email names combined with known domains on the internet. Enough happen
to be real addresses that the failure of the rest just doesn’t matter.