Four Ways Cyber Crooks Make Massive Profits Using Malware

 In the early days of the Internet, hacking seemed to be mostly about the prestige. We all gasped as we learnt that a 13 year old in his parent's South Dakota basement had hacked into the Pentagon's databases, but we were left asking "what's the point"?. Apart from the just-so-that-I-can-say-that-I-did-it factor, these types of hackers were certainly not running to the bank. So what's changed in 15 years?
 
Now hacking - and the malware that drives it - is big business. This article take a look at four ways that crooks profit from the use of Malware on the Internet today.
 
One: Using Adware to Serve CPM advertisements.
 
With many advertising programs, advertisers are paid on a cost-per-mille (CPM) metric. This means that the vendor or merchant is charged a flat rate for every thousand people that are shown the ad. Normally this is only effective if the advertiser has a loyal following of tens of thousands of people that regularly return to their site, but with adware, malware developers can cash in big for minimum effort.
 
People infected with adware can expect that their PC will obediently serve up countless popup ads to you each time you connect to the Internet. While this is very annoying to you as the user (not to mention slowing your PC down, too), what makes it worse is that the adware developer is no doubt raking in the cash - even as you close down the offending commercial.
 
Two: Using Spyware To Steal Identities
 
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the western world, and spyware applications are one of the driving forces in online versions.
 
Trojans sneak onto operating systems every minute of every day, each carrying a range of malware applications. One of the more devastating of these are keyloggers - small programs that surreptitiously record every user name, every site that you visit and every password that you enter into non-SSL websites. Once the cybercrook has your vital details, it is an easy reach for them to set up credit accounts, take control of your accounts and steal your real identity. Once your identity has been stolen by one of these online villains, it is only up to the imagination how much damage can be done by the thief.
 
Three: Using Backdoors To Send Spam.
 
If you receive spam, you know how annoying and invasive these junk messages can prove to be. Even though 99% of all people instantly close the "grow you manhood" messages as soon as they appear, the remaining 1% that do open the messages still make the sending of spam a very lucrative business.
 
Because of tight restrictions on the sending of spam mail and new laws such as the CAN-SPAM act in the U.S., spam spruikers commission malware developers to design programs that actually open up an innocent computer user's connections to the Internet and allow the 'host' computer to be controlled remotely and send out millions of spam messages across the Internet... and of course the spammer reaps all of the benefits and stays at arms' length from the actual sending of the mail.
 
Four: Using Rootkits to Host Illegal Content on The Internet.
 
Whether we like it or not, there is still big money being made on the Internet providing illegal content to users. From terrorism to illegal pornography, there will sadly always be an eager and hungry market.
 
Of course, hosting this content is nigh-on impossible using conventional means: the site would be instantly closed down and the owners arrested. What hackers do to get around this is by infecting PC's with Rootkits - special groups of malicious programs - that allow remote third party connection, denial of service of critical programs like firewalls and your operating system and allow illegal content to be stored and hosted on your PC.
 
As you can see, malware is much more than spotty 13 year olds hacking their way into government computers. It is also much more than just an inconvenience to the regular computer user. At the least it could see you being plagued by popup ads... at the worst it could see the Police seizing your hard drive and locking you up at the watch house.

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