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The psychology of cybercrime
The psychology of cybercrime

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2.4 Malware

As you are accessing this course online, you are already likely to be familiar with the need to protect your system against attacks from viruses and other types of malware.

An image of a child drinking from a mug with a computer screen in the background.

However, as with hacking, those who produce malware are inventive, and are often able to exploit weaknesses in the system and make use of social engineering to introduce malware to a computer or network despite existing safeguards. There are two aspects of the criminal use of malware: firstly, creation of the malware; and secondly, distribution (Kirwan and Power, 2013). The term ‘malware’ encompasses a number of different types of malicious program, and in common with the other types of cybercrime you have explored so far, motivations for creating and distributing malware are varied. While psychological research on creators of malware is limited, Kirwan and Power (2013) suggest that the underlying motivations may have changed over time, and that while early creators of malware were often motivated by a desire to identify system vulnerabilities, or by the intellectual challenge, there is an increasing tendency towards creation and distribution of malware for financial gain.

You can learn more about the different types of malware as part of the free OpenLearn course: Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .