Have you ever wondered why someone would put in all the effort to create a computer virus? What’s the incentive for them by creating something so destructive that can spread across the world in seconds? The main three motivators are boasting their skills, to be mischievous, or making money. While boasting skills and being mischievous is self-explanatory, the motivation for money sparks some questions into how these attackers are financially gaining from compute virus. Let’s explore some common ways virus creators make money:
Theft of Bank Accounts
Virus can snoop through all the files on your computer and send them back to its creator. They look for sensitive information such as bank details, credit card numbers, or passwords to your accounts. Using the stolen information, they can transfer funds from your account or use your credit card to go on a shopping spree. Some will compile a list of all the stolen information and sell your details to the highest bidder.
Instead of stealing all your personal information, this type of virus will encrypt or lock you out of your files while demanding money in exchange for a key to unlock your files. There will be a message indicating the amount of the ransom, how to pay them, and a firm deadline before your files are permanently destroyed. If you don’t have a proper backup plan before the incident, you’ll be out of cash and at their mercy for getting your files back.
This is a clever technique to make money. This virus is installed on your computer that displays annoying ads on websites or swaps out existing ads for their own. They’ll get a referral fee for each ad you click or from purchases you making through the ads. Their kickback doesn’t increase the cost of your purchase and you may not even know that you’re supporting their activities.
You may have heard of digital currencies such as Bitcoin being used for exchanging payments. But did you know that you can earn cryptocurrencies using your computer? The processing power used to earn cryptocurrency is called mining. This type of virus uses your computing resources to mine cryptocurrency for its creator. It’s a very clever and sneaky way that virus creators use other people’s computer for financial gain.
Computers infected by this virus can allow the attacker or “Botmaster” to remotely control your computer. They’ll use your computer (“bots”) as a host to perform malicious activities. For example, by using a network of infected computers (hence the term “botnet”), Botmasters can target a website to overload them with traffic leading causing the website to crash. Botmasters often do these attacks to blackmail many ecommerce websites. They’ll threaten to crash the website if you don’t pay them according to their demands.
These virus searches your computer for passwords to online accounts. Login information for websites such as Facebook or online gaming accounts are valuable for attacks. This allows attacks to gain access to your account or sell the information on the black market.
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