Hacking viruses are malicious computer programs that can steal personal data and even control a system remotely. They typically spread through emails, peer-to-peer networks and websites with content that is downloaded. It’s possible to avoid a hacking virus attack by keeping your software up to date and avoid virtual data storage downloading from unreliable sources and avoiding unsecure networks.

Cybercriminals use hacking viruses for a variety of reasons. They might want to attack computers with keystroke logs that record all the words a device user types. This provides the perpetrator with all the information needed to steal an identity and gain access bank accounts or credit cards as well as other valuable information. Or, they could utilize a compromised device as part of a larger network known as a botnet, which could be used to send out spam emails or launch attacks on other devices.

A virus may also be programmed to alter the functions of a computer by changing its default homepage or redirecting search queries to unintentionally-designed websites or reversing the results returned by popular search engines. This kind of hacking is known as a backdoor virus.

Historically, hackers who obsessively searched for low-tech methods to break secure telecommunications systems as well as expensive long-distance calls were called freaks and phreaks (a combination of phone and freak). The majority of those who fall victim to viruses that hack computers are not involved either with communications or playing around with technology. They are the unfortunate victims of malicious hackers that exploit vulnerabilities in built-in computer security systems to steal sensitive information or disrupt normal computer use and cause financial damage to their target.