Hacking viruses are computer programs that can steal personal information and remotely control a system. They often spread through emails and peer-to-peer networks as well as websites with content that is downloaded. You can avoid an attack from hackers by updating your software, avoiding downloading from unreliable sources, and staying away vulnerable networks.

Hacking viruses are used by cybercriminals to attack their victims for a variety of reasons. They may want to infect computers with keystroke loggers that keep track of every word a device’s user types, giving the perpetrator all the information they need to steal their identity and gain access to bank accounts, credit card numbers and other valuable data. They can also use a compromised device as part of a botnet network that can be used for spam emails or to launch attacks on other devices.

A virus could also be programmed to take over the function of a device, by changing its default homepage redirecting search queries to an undesired web site or reversing the results generated by popular search engines. This kind of hacking can be described as a backdoor.

Hackers who were fascinated by finding low-tech methods of bypassing secure telecommunications systems and costly long distance calls were called phreaks. Phreak is a combination of the words phone and freak. Today most victims of hacking viruses have nothing to relate to telecommunications, or an obsession with tinkering with technology. They are the unfortunate victims of hackers who exploit weaknesses in security systems built into them to steal sensitive information about individuals, disrupt their own and other users’ computer use and inflict financial damage on the people they are targeting.