Frequently Asked Questions - Home PC Users

Why do virus writers do it?

Actual computer viruses are very rare, having been replaced by more modern forms of malware (malicious/criminal software). In the 1980's, computer viruses were written by idiots for a lark, but modern malware is produced by organised criminals in order to obtain money in various ways – often your money. This is accomplished in several ways. Firstly they may install software in your PC to spy on you, collecting such information as your account details and passwords, which they will use for various fraudulent purposes. This is sometimes called Identity Theft in the popular press, but is really simple impersonation. Secondly they can use a malware infected computer for other criminal purposes, such as sending out spam or attacking commercial computer networks. A large number of infected computers working together is called a botnet (short for robot network), and are a big problem. They are particularly useful to criminals launching further attacks, as it is very difficult to trace the attack back to the perpetrator – it appears to be coming from you instead.