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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Data Loss and Virus Prevention | Virus Detection and Protection | Background on Viruses ]

Who Writes Viruses... and Why?

The people who write viruses generally have their own reasons for what they do, and they aren't too open about identifying themselves, for obvious reasons. It is believed that most virus authors are young men in their teens or early twenties, who have a great deal of technical knowledge and have decided for various reasons to use it for destructive purposes. Some of the reasons that people write viruses:

  • Sociopathy: Many virus writers are just troublemakers--or maybe just troubled individuals--who want to create havoc and then thrive on the attention it generates. They are the electronic equivalents of graffiti artists, prank phone callers, etc., looking for fame and glory in a rather twisted way.
  • Revenge: Sometimes viruses or trojan horses are written by disgruntled employees or others who want to get back at someone or make a statement.
  • The Challenge: Some virus writers do it just to see if they can away with it. As virus detection software gets smarter, virus writers have to employ new tricks to have their "products" evade notice.
  • Education: Writing viruses, especially ones smart enough to avoid detection, requires a great deal of technical know-how. Some people take up virus writing to teach themselves how to program at a low-level within the PC. It's ironic, but experienced virus writers are among the most technically skilled PC programmers in the world! What a waste, isn't it?

In many cases, full-fledged war can break out between famous virus writers and the companies that write antivirus software. Given the twisted genius of many virus authors, it isn't surprising that many new viruses specifically target antivirus software programs! Then the antivirus programs modify themselves to protect against these new attacks, and so on, and so on. In essence, it's a digital war zone out there, and your hard disk is the battleground. There are thousands of viruses floating around and you ignore the risk at your peril. Fortunately there are ways of coping with this madness, primarily by preventing virus infection, and performing routine scans for any that evade your defenses.

Next: Virus Infection Mechanisms and Prevention


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