Why Malware Happens – Theft of Digital Resources (DDoS, Bitcoin, Brute Force)



Welcome to our “Why Malware Happens” video series. This is where we examine malware and virtual crime from the perspective of outlaws and troublemakers, in order to discover their motivations.

In spy movies, you’ll often see scenarios where cybercriminals will come up with elaborate plans to hack into government databases. Usually, it’s to extract some very valuable information, or to take control of a nuclear weapon, or to transfer millions of dollars to a secret Swiss bank account.

And of course, this makes sense. But that’s not what hackers do in real life. Instead, they go after ordinary, boring everyday people. They exploit computers that are primarily used for video games and word processing. Why would criminals put their freedom at risk, just to exploit low value targets?

Believe it or not, there is a thriving international market for stolen computing resources.

Botnets are some of the most common examples of this. In a botnet, a virus would infect a large quantity of computers. And all of these computers would be placed under the control of a single hacker. The hacker would then offer these infected systems for rent, on the black market.

For a fee, you could write a single program, and have it simultaneously executed by millions of hijacked computers.

Here are a few examples:

According to research conducted by a major antivirus company, botnets that focused on Linux servers were significantly more active than those targeting Windows servers. This is interesting, since Linux users have a reputation for being very security savvy. But it also makes sense because Linux systems are much more desirable targets. They have powerful networking capabilities, and are usually linked up to much faster Internet connections than Windows PCs.

It’s also important to note that this gap between Windows and Linux botnets has been closing for the past few years.

It’s true that your computer may not be a high-value target. But if a piece of malware is able to infect enough machines, criminals can sell these resources for a hefty profit. That’s why you need to protect yourself.

  • Pick strong passwords.
  • Back up your data.
  • Invest in strong anti-virus software.
  • And always practice good digital hygiene.

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