The more popular an item is the more that we seem to trust it. It doesn’t matter in which field you are looking at, once an item gets popular then more people will not only hear about it but they will trust it as well. Most people will wait for the early adopters to give their reviews and then once they do they will then try it out for themselves to see if they like it. Even if they are not one hundred percent convinced about the product they will still want to be part of the group and will almost force themselves to like it. It probably has to do with human nature that goes back thousands of years.
This same line of thinking is in software as well. Once a piece of software becomes popular then everyone else implicitly trusts it more. This is why you will see that even though there is a piece of software that is better than the more popular one, it still does not completely catch on with the people who are already ingrained with the older and more popular software. This type of behavior normally is not too much of a problem but there is one aspect of it that can help black hat hackers.
Black hat hackers like to prey on software and web sites which are very popular in nature. The more popular the software or web site is, the more that you will see black hat hackers trying to attack it. It really makes a lot of sense. Even though it does not seem like it, black hat hacking for profit is a pure numbers game. If a black hat hacker wants to be able to make a profit then he has to be able to attack as many machines as possible. It is a business just like any other except that it is illegal. The fact that it is illegal does not mean that the same basic business rules do not apply. In a business you have to be able to get a lot of foot traffic to be able to make a lot of money. When you are talking about hacking, the “foot traffic” is the people who get introduced to your trap. A good portion of those people are not going to fall for it and will figure out that it is no good. That is why you need popular software and web sites to attack. You may not get all of the people but if the web site or software is popular enough only having a good ten percent of the people fall for it may make you a healthy profit.
How can hackers harm you through desktop software?
There are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding how someone could be hacked. Most people seem to think that you can only be hacked if you go and visit a rogue web site. While that is the most common way to be hacked it is not the only one. There are many other ways that you can be hacked as well.
When it comes to software installed on your desktop there are two more prominent ways that you can be hacked. You can be hacked by either installing the wrong version of the software or by the software calling to a remote machine on the internet.
When I say by installing the wrong version of the software, what I mean is that you did not go to the official site and get the software. You either downloaded it from an illegal site or through one of the many file sharing programs such as bittorrent and others. When you install programs from places like this you never know what it can be putting on your computer. All that you know is that your system has become infected and you have left a giant backdoor for remote hackers to come through.
Now when I am talking about the second way that your desktop software can be hacked, I am talking about software that calls home. Since the internet is so ubiquitous these days, you even see it connecting to desktop software all of the time. Just think of Skype, Yahoo Messenger and the many others. Even software as plain as Microsoft Office will call home at times. This type of software can become infected because a hacker has gotten into the main servers and instead of sending a correct update it is now sending a corrupted one that will allow them onto your system. This type of attack rarely happens but it does happen so you must be aware of it.
Hopefully I have put to rest the mistaken belief that only web software will allow you to get attacked by a remote host. That is not the case at all. There is desktop software that can hurt your system as well. That is why you need to make sure that you always get your software through official channels. And when you do, keep aware that there have been no attacks on that official channel as well.