Viruses and malware are an inconvenience for computer users around the world. They cause huge losses, and trouble. The question of whether antivirus companies invent viruses to create a market for their products has been asked over the years. Could antivirus companies be the real originators of viruses and malware? Could they be doing it themselves, or paying people to come up with the harmful software in order to increase their profits?

History of Viruses

The history of computer viruses dates back to the invention of a game called Core War, which was developed in the 1960s and released in 1984.  Core War would replicate itself every time it was run on a computer until it would eventually saturate the computer’s memory.

The game developers came up with an antivirus to combat their own creation on an infected computer. This could explain the conspiracy theory that antivirus computers create viruses in order to sell antivirus software. A lot of people suspect antivirus companies of being the inventors of viruses.

No antivirus company has ever been outright accused of such a thing, but what is the possibility it could happen?

The Risk

Developing a virus requires programming knowledge, and hours of work. It could take months to come up with a single virus. There are already countless viruses, malware and other threats out there and antivirus companies have their hands full just keeping up with what is already there.

Viruses are invented by criminals who hide in cyberspace. The more computers they hide behind, the more difficult it is to find, stop and prosecute them.

Developing a virus is not easy for an antivirus computer to hide especially when dealing with a limited number of computers. The antivirus company would probably attract attention as they try to protect themselves from the virus before releasing it into the world. They would also be at risk of infecting their own systems. Cleaning up infected computers is costly, and not worth the risk.

The origin of viruses that affect many people is investigated by experts so antivirus companies would not risk the repercussions of having viruses traced back to them.

An antivirus company could hire someone independent to develop viruses on their behalf, but business deals go sour and secrets get uncovered. If a virus code is found to have links with an antivirus company, the cost would be too high. They would lose the respect of their customers as well as face lawsuits. A company found guilty of such practices would probably not survive. Many antivirus companies are publicly traded. Why would they take such risk?

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Profitability

Companies go into business to make a profit. For an antivirus company to venture into the creation of viruses, it would have to make economic sense. That means the company would be able to make some gains that would be lost to the competition. It would be very difficult to do without the company attracting attention, and being considered a suspect.

Antivirus software is not made to combat specific viruses, which means that even if a particular antivirus company could develop a virus, there is nothing specific to stand to benefit from that investment over the competition.

There are already countless viruses to keep companies busy and profitable without the need to invent new ones. Everyone who has access to the Internet is potentially at risk.

The profitable thing for antivirus companies to do is to constantly improve their products to provide quality protection, then convince as many people as possible their antivirus protection is the best choice. They have a lot to do, researching ways to improve their products to cope with the new virus strains constantly entering the cyberspace.

Who Creates Viruses?

Who would be guilty of creating viruses and releasing them into cyberspace, and for what reason? Anyone who can code can produce a computer virus. With the internet enabling anyone who wishes to access information from wherever they are, even their own homes, anyone could learn how to program and create viruses.

Some people probably create them just to mess up life for others. They might have something against society and want to hit back, or they might have a God complex, believing they will take over the world. Some people could be developing viruses with the intention of getting paid, while others may do it for fun.

A virus, once created, becomes difficult to control, even for whoever created it. It is like releasing a bird into the air, you no longer say where it will go and what it will do.

There are enough people to create viruses and malware without antivirus companies having to invest resources into the risky venture.

The invention of the internet and email provided an easy way to spread viruses. It is easy to attach viruses to applications that are necessary for computers to function. A lot of the applications that spread viruses are easily accessible, and are free. Viruses are also spread as email attachments.

Viruses, adware, malware, spyware, computer worms and cyber fishing websites are just some of the risks that come with being in cyberspace, which has become a multibillion-dollar business

It is difficult to accurately pinpoint who the real beneficiaries of this illegal business are. If we could, it would be a step towards understanding who could be behind the creation of viruses and other computer threats.

Insurance companies, computer repair and maintenance companies and technicians, as well as antivirus companies, all make money because of these threats to computers.  It is difficult to know which of these players, if any, could be working with virus developers. They might just be beneficiaries of the activities of these anonymous miscreants.

Computer users spend a substantial amount of money on antivirus protection, removal of vulnerabilities, purchase of compromised software and restoration of damaged computers.

Stay Safe Online

No one is safe from virus attacks and other cyber-crimes, though exercising caution greatly reduces the risk. Some viruses are attached to free software and other downloads, so it makes sense for internet users to avoid downloading things from unauthorized sources - especially those that are sent as email attachments, Facebook forwards or on Twitter.

Only install software from reputable sources, and make sure it is properly installed. Use antivirus programs from reputable companies, and keep them up to date.

Do not accept anything you did not ask for, such as free deals, unsolicited forwarded messages or emails from unknown sources. Do not click on URL links sent to you by unknown people. Delete anything unsolicited without opening.

The main thing to remember is that criminals want to make money as easily and quickly as possible. Do not make it easy for them. If they cannot succeed quickly, they will probably give up and move on to an easier mark.

The Highlights

  • A brief history of computer viruses

  • The risks involved for antivirus companies in order to create viruses

  • The profitability of the virus business

  • Who creates viruses and other threats to computers?

  • Who are the beneficiaries of the threats?

  • How to stay safe online

Do you have any question or feedback concerning this article? Let us know your views in the comments section below.

Gönderildi 9 Kasım, 2017

LucyKarinsky

Software Developer

Lucy is the Development & Programming Correspondent for Freelancer.com. She is currently based in Sydney.

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