Why Do People Create Malware?

Virus detectionMalware. Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the past decade and a half, you’re likely familiar with this term. Otherwise known as computer viruses, these rogue computer applications/programs are responsible for the biggest cyber attacks in history. Their creators can make them affect company servers or even government IT infrastructure at their convenience.

IT experts, including KeySpace, can attest to the extent of potential damage malware may cause. But after all the negative impact, the question of their creators’ motives remain: what’s the point?

Understanding Different Malware Types

Malware is hardly uniform. Early viruses only aimed to spread themselves and be an annoyance, like the Happy99 worm of the 90s. Some aim to steal delicate account information (i.e. keyloggers which record what words are typed by the user using the keyboard) and sneak in malicious software while being disguised (i.e. Trojans). Others work as extortion tools (i.e. ransomware). This type of malware encrypt personal files, delete the originals, and present itself as a wizard program asking the user to pay just to get those files back.

By now, it’s pretty apparent that malware creators primarily do it for profit. Keyloggers, for instance, are instrumental in stealing account names and passwords. The stolen credentials can then be used to illegally access another person’s account and take whatever’s valuable. Or the creator can simply keep the stolen credentials for an account and sell them via an online black market for a lucrative price.

Malware For Other Purposes, Even Good Ones

Viruses created for good intentions? Sounds counterintuitive, but they do exist. Some software developers do this as a way of battling piracy. One good example is the so-called Brain Virus, which works by infecting a computer in various ways if it’s confirmed that the software is illegally acquired. Law enforcement can also hire a malware creator to try and gather information about a high-value criminal target, or generally as a means of making operations easier. The same thing goes with the armed forces.

Or probably, people create malware just for the heck of it. Remember that on the world wide web, anyone is anonymous unless that person reveals his/her identity. This cloak of anonymity makes for a great place to “prank” somebody else with malware, even if there’s no intention of causing damage.