In everyday life, there are vandals that seem to enjoy destroying things – even though it can be hard to understand how they derive any tangible benefit from their acts of vandalism. Unfortunately, the same type of behavor is also present in cyberspace. There are malware creators that devote time and effort to acts of computer vandalism that can damage your computers and data, and affect the services that businesses deliver.
Who are the computer vandals?
In the early days of the development of malware, the majority of computer viruses and Trojans were created by students and other young programmers – plus some older, more experienced programmers. Today, there are still four main types of computer vandal:
- Skilled students… showing off!
In many cases, students – that have just mastered the use of a programming language – may want to try out their skills, test their ability or prove how clever they are. Fortunately, many of these malware creators do not actually distribute their malware – instead, they may send the virus or worm virus to an antivirus company.
- Inexperienced youths… assisted by the Internet
Young people that haven’t quite mastered the art of programming may also turn to computer vandalism – sometimes to prove their ‘self-worth’. In the past, this resulted in primitive viruses. However, there are now numerous websites that explain how to write and distribute computer viruses – and how viruses can sidestep antivirus software. So the Internet has made it much easier for the inexperienced to create their own viruses.
- ‘Professional developers’
As young virus writers mature, their experience can make their activities much more dangerous. Older, talented programmers can create very ‘professional’ computer viruses. These can be sophisticated programs that use innovative methods to intrude into data system domains, or can exploit security vulnerabilities within operating environments, capitalize on social engineering or use a range of other tricks.
These are shrewd programmers that are capable of inventing new methods of infecting computers, concealing the infection and resisting the actions of antivirus software. The programmer’s objective is to research the potential of ‘computer fauna’. The programmer may choose not to spread their creations – but actively promote their ideas, via numerous Internet resources that are devoted to the creation of computer viruses. Those ideas and ‘research viruses’ may then be used by malicious individuals or criminals.
Today’s vandalism computer threats
Although all of these groups are still developing computer viruses, there has been a reduction in the number of new, ‘traditional’ types of computer threats that are being released. There are several possible reasons why:
- New laws
In many countries, changes in legislation have resulted in the arrest of computer virus writers. With widespread press coverage, these arrests have probably deterred many youths from developing malicious code.
Network games have offered another way for young people to show their skills and prowess. Today, many computer-literate youths are more likely to become gamers – rather than malware creators.
In the 1990s, it was a lot easier to create computer viruses that targeted Microsoft’s DOS operating system – when compared with the effort required to target today’s more complex Windows operating system.
While the fall in computer vandalism is to be welcomed, the risks presented by other types of malicious programs represent a much more dangerous threat to your computer… your data… your digital identity… and your finances.