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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

What is the point in making a computer virus?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26789points) August 30th, 2010

I understand adware and even spyware. But what is the purpose in making a virus that just makes someone’s computer hard to use? Or causes major destruction, in some cases.

I don’t understand. Is it just to be a pain in the butt?

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13 Answers

Mom2BDec2010's avatar

I would think someone would give someone they didn’t like a virus. Just to be hateful.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

That’s possible, yes. We’ve all had them, though… it seems like they are built to spread. All of them. So what’s the purpose in that? I don’t understand what the creators get out of it.

chyna's avatar

GQ. I have wondered this myself. I am out of a job and got a virus on my computer, which I need to find a job. So it cost me 100.00 to have it repaired. One hundred dollars I don’t really have since I don’t have a job. Why do this?

Austinlad's avatar

Four words: Because antisocial geeks can.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I wondered who benefits by a computer viruses too. The only ones I see are Microsoft, computer repair shops, and antivirus software companies.

tedd's avatar

People who want a swift kick in the nuts if I ever find out who they are?

ipso's avatar

Ostensibly the reason is to improve the system – to harden the system.

But I think in reality it’s exactly as @Austinlad says – because they can. It’s about renown for your chops, plain and simple.

It is my understanding that an overwhelming majority of virus activity is perpetrated by people who could have done much more damage, but were not mean-spirited.

I think of these like earthquakes: I would rather have a bunch of little harmless ones instead of a really big bad one.

I think everyone when growing up goes through the mischievous stage. Computer programmers are no different, they just have more interesting tools (vs. say cherry bombs in toilet bowls.)

Unfortunately some people never grow out of their mischievous stage and laws have to reel them back into our prescribed reality.

And sinners make the best priests (or whatever that quote is), relative to virus protection software.

Austinlad's avatar

@worriedguy, you forgot one other beneficiary: the virus creator’s ego.

Frenchfry's avatar

Awwwww I just hate viruses. It makes no sense unless it makes them feel some sort of power, and little excitement of knowing they are destroying people lively hood or entertainment. Like a terrorist makes no sense to me. So does these Professional hackers.

jerv's avatar

Bear in mind that, if you look at the code for many viruses, the author’s name (or at least their “handle”) is in there. In that respect, it is much like graffiti, and the more damage it does and/or the wider it spreads, the better it needs to be coded to survive.

So if you have a really nasty virus, then that proves that you are t3h l33t h@XX0r, and everybody who looks at the code knows your name since it’s right there. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to go in with a hex editor or anything since they put their name right on your screen in order to brag!

Frenchfry's avatar

@jerv Wow learn something there.

stevie1145's avatar

Another reason is for the author to see what you do on your computer and based on that they will feed popups to your screen which they can make money from.

PhiNotPi's avatar

In the history of computer viruses, there have been several phases in virus creation:

1) people write viruses simply because the idea of a computer virus is entertaining. These viruses lived on floppy disks and didn’t do much.

2) people write computer viruses becuase they like seeing the virus spead. These were not intended to cause harm, but did cause damage in lost time and by clogging the Internet. An example is the Morris worm, whose source code is on a floppy disk on display in a museum.

3) people write computer viruses becuase they like causing damage. This is the arson and vandalism of the cyber world. These viruses are the ones that wipe hard drives clean. These are also the ones that mess up all of your files and your monitor background.

4) people write computer viruses because they like to steal personal and corporate data. These are designed to steal data and personal information. They do not wipe hard drives, and are the first generation of malware that is designed to not be noticed.

5) people write computer viruses to recruit large numbers of home computers into botnets that are remotely controlled. Once a person has control of a botnet, they can use it for profit, such as by spamming. The computers can also be used to launch denial of service attacks against websites and organizations.

6) countries write computer viruses as an espionage tool against other countries. This occurred with the creation of the Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame worms. These are designed to record large amounts of important data for military uses. Another potential reason is that computers are often put in charge of machines and robots. If the computer system can be compromised, then one country can take control of the other country’s infrastructure and cause it to break.

One other note is that the word “virus” can be exchanged with “worm”. They are technically separate, but do similar things.

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