Hackers, and the People Who Hate Them

This morning, my computer informed me that Kaspersky Anti-Virus would absolutely love to scan my computer. It said it hadn’t gotten to yet, and felt it wasn’t being used to its full potential. Being the kind and compassionate person I am, I said, “Computer, of course you can run Kaspersky. And you know what? We’ll even go out for milkshakes later to celebrate.”

Ten minutes and 3% of the scan later, I’ve just barely been able to open this page to start writing the blog.

At DDA, it is important that we do virus and adware scans on a regular basis, especially when the core of our work is processor intensive. Video editing software, 3D programs, and large illustration projects all are major strains on RAM and CPU. So when a virus strikes, those tasks become next to impossible for the already stressed-out Compy to handle.

The real  question then becomes, who writes these viruses, and for what purpose?

Sometimes they are keyloggers, trying to find your passwords and access sensitive information, like creditcard numbers and social security info. In my home computer’s case, all they could get is login info for a bunch of online video game forums and first-person shooters. But at work, it is critical that our keystrokes are not detected when we login to purchase 3D models, stock photos, or video studio equipment.

Additionally, some viruses are meant to corrupt data, or shut down a computer’s processes altogether. These malignant viruses are usually either the work of someone with a specific interest in destroying your computer, or a hacker who is trying to gain “cred” in the hacker community. In the case of the former, it can happen to anyone, and usually turns out to be  someone who has  had access to those systems in the past. In the case of the latter, however, the target is usually either a larger company with strong security software which presents a challenge to the hacker, or a large group of people so the hacker can say “I shut down 500,000 computers last year.”

As for adware and spyware, these are the most common and most annoying forms of viruses. Actually, they aren’t even really viruses as much as memory hogs. Spyware can get into your computer and track data, watching what sites you go to and relaying marketing data back to the company or individual who first forced the spyware upon you (or  tricked you into downloading it.)

Most adware creates annoying popup messages that can completely bog down your system’s memory, effectively ruining higher-end programs until they are removed. These popups can even come up when your computer is offline (that is even when the ethernet cable is unplugged) because they have been secretly installed into your computer. Because of this, it is very important that you never download anything that has an .exe extension, unless it comes from a very trusted source.

So, while it is annoying to have to wait for Mr. Kaspersky to finish rummaging around in my hard drive for viruses (virii?) I am grateful to have him around. Virus scanning programs really can help improve system performance and eliminate any potential threat to your business security. So keep up the good work, Compy! You’ve got a delicious strawberry milkshake in it for you if you do a good job.