Crime

Ralph is distressed and angry after overhearing Vanellope’s conversation with Shank.

Using Viruses

When Ralph overhears Vanellope express her intentions to leave the arcade and remain permanently in Slaughter Race, he desperately searches for a method to make the game slower and more boring in an attempt to discourage his best friend from leaving him. He acquires a virus from Double Dan that clones insecurities and releases them into Slaughter Race, effectively crashing the entire game and endangering Vanellope’s life. These scenes showcase how Ralph was overwhelmed by his emotions and sense of betrayal, causing him to rely on a computer virus for malicious intent. The concept of releasing computer viruses due to emotional distress, as shown by Ralph’s actions in the movie, is prevalent in real life. Research has shown that, in 2020, the average global cost of insider threats at companies has increased by 31%, coming in at $11.45 million [1]. Furthermore, the number of occurrences has increased by 47%, where 27% of cases were conducted by insiders. Another report states that malware is often used by insiders and outsiders of an organization for financial gain, competitive advantage, and revenge [2]. A study confirms that the most frequent motive is revenge since in 92% of their cases “...a specific event or a series of events triggered the insiders’ actions.” These events included, among others, employment termination (47%), dispute with a current or former employer (20%), and employment-related demotion or transfer (13%)” [3]. For example, an unsatisfied systems administrator from a financial services firm introduced a logic bomb to business software [2]. Logic bombs are “...a set of instructions secretly incorporated into a program so that if a particular condition is satisfied they will be carried out, usually with harmful effects” [7]. This malicious scheme plummeted the company stock, causing $3 million in damages to its network [2]. This employee was ultimately convicted for security fraud where the average sentence is 50 months and 86.2% of those convicted are sent to prison [4]. Ralph’s actions and the aforementioned statistics suggest that humans are prone to using computer viruses for malice due to their emotional distress.

Writing Viruses

Double Dan is an author of malicious viruses in the movie and resides in suspicious parts of the Internet. He exploits Ralph’s immense distress by selling him a computer virus that sabotages Slaughter Race. Similar to Double Dan, virus authors in real life also use emotional marketing to increase their business sales. For example, a forum advertisement from a malicious DDoS vendor states: “DDoS service, with quality and reliable. I think that majority know this DDoS, but I will remind it to you again, if you have competition, who interrupt you at your work and if someone has hurt your feelings, you can play on the site of this person, best solution is smokin” [5]. In this description, the author uses harming competition and seeking revenge as selling points, effectively exploiting the insecurities of their customers. Another fraudulent online practice that exploits emotions is phishing. A Harvard thesis states, “Phishing is particularly dangerous because it preys on human emotions and mental shortcuts, and it does so by using deception” [6]. It further elaborates, “The way our brain is designed to handle emotion and social interaction give hackers a large attack vector and very little mitigation ability… The key emotions that social engineers exploit are three of the six basic ones: fear, anger, and disgust”. These malicious motives highlight the importance of being alert on the internet so that we don’t become hosts for parasitic software and schemes.

Double Dan showing off his virus

Sources

[1] Saxena N, Hayes E, Bertino E, Ojo P, Choo K-KR, Burnap P. Impact and Key Challenges of Insider Threats on Organizations and Critical Businesses. Electronics. 2020; 9(9):1460. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9091460. Accessed May 1, 2021.

[2] Bits. Malware Risks and Mitigation Report. June 2011. Nist, https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/itl/BITS-Malware-Report-Jun2011.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2021.

[3] Keeney, Michelle. Insider Threat Study: Computer System Sabotage in Critical Infrastructure Sectors. May 2005. Carnegie Mellon, https://resources.sei.cmu.edu/asset_files/SpecialReport/2005_003_001_51946.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2021.

[4] United States Sentencing Commission. "Securities and Investment Fraud Offenses." USSC, 2019,
https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf//research-and-publications/quick-facts/Securities_Fraud_FY19.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2021.

[5] Chu, Bill. "Examining the Creation, Distribution, and Function of Malware On-Line." OJP, Mar. 2010,
https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/230111.pdf. Accessed May 2, 2021.

[6] Sibrian, Jason. 2020. Sensitive Data? Now That's a Catch! the Psychology of Phishing. Bachelor's thesis, Harvard College.
https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/37364686/SIBRIAN-SENIORTHESIS-2020.pdf. Accessed May 2, 2021.

[7] Oxford Learner's Dictionaries. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/logic-bomb. Accessed May 2, 2021.