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Computer Viruses – The So Called Threat Essay Sample

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Computer Viruses – The So Called Threat Essay Sample

Computer Viruses, what are they? Deadly programs wrote by the best of the best, or super weapons used by powerful countries against their enemies? Or, just harmless (mostly) little creations made by bored programmers? I think the latter is more correct. Most viruses are harmless, only a very small percentage causes harm to a computer, either deliberately or due to errors in the code. But, it is certainly due to the media that everyone is scared of them. All most all just spread and do something annoying, not format your hard drive. Take the Stoned virus for example, all it does is infect the boot sector of a disk then loads itself in memory. When the Stoned virus is in memory, it waits for the 13^th of any month then displays on your screen “Your computer is now stoned”. While in memory it infects any disk that is in your computer and any entered after that. In this essay I intend to describe the different types of viruses, how they work, how they are written, how to get rid of them and how to find out if you have one.

There are many different types of computer viruses. They cover a wide area of infecting your computer. In fact, there are more viruses than legitimate programs, about 3 or 4 times more! Boot sector viruses are a strange type of viruses. They don’t infect files, but instead they infect the disk directly. When you double click on a disk the disk I `run’ like an application (such as Word, Claris or Windoze itself). It is when the disk is run that is usually tells the computer that it is a disk and to open a window saying what is in it. But, if the disk is infected with a boot sector virus then the virus is run instead. Usually the virus will call the `real’ part of the disk so that it appears to run normally. Also the virus is almost never the size of the boot sector so it has to install partly in the boot sector and the rest hidden somewhere on the disk. So your disk will be smaller than usual even if you have no files installed. File viruses usually add a copy of themselves to the beginning or end of a program, usually to files that end in exe, com, cpl or dll. There is now a new type of viruses that infect vbs or js files either as well or instead. The I_Love_You virus is an example of a virus that infects vbs files.

Although the I_Love_You virus isn’t correctly speaking a file virus, it is more of a worm than a file virus, but as infects files as well I’ll just use it for this example. Macro viruses only infect MS Word and MS Excel. MS Word and MS Excel have their own programming language built into them, Visual Basic. VB (Visual Basic) enables programmers to write programs to automate tasks in Word Documents or Excel Spreadsheets. But it also enables virus writers to create viruses that can spread through the most popular package documents by just reading the documents. And, MS Word and MS Excel has another stupid feature, it comes by the name of normal.dot. It enables the user to put macros in it so that they are run every time you open any document or create a new one. You can also put viruses there. Microsoft at their best as usual. Worms are not actually viruses. Normal computer viruses have to be run by the user somehow to spread, but worms spread all by themselves, with no human intervention at all.

They almost always spread through either networks or the Internet. You probably have heard of the second most famous worm ever, the I_Love_You letter worm that took the worlds media by storm in late 1999, early 2000. Or maybe you’re old enough to remember the most famous and most destructive worm ever, the Morris Worm that brought down the entire Internet and most electronic communication. It worked by using a flaw in SendMail, a program that is used to send and received emails by almost every ISP in the world to spread. Basically it was an accident that it brought down the Internet because it was spreading to quickly for the primitive computers to handle, and just crashed them. Worms generally use flaws in programs that are wide spread like Windoze and Outlook Express to spread. The I_Love_You letter virus used Outlook Express to spread, Morris Worm, SendMail.

The Tune.G worm uses a flaw in Microsoft’s (Oh, no surprise there then!) Network Server to spread around the network. Generally all worms do is spread. In this next section, I intend to list the basic methods of getting rid of viruses, not forever though, but for the meanwhile. 1) Boycott Microsoft – Almost all viruses are written for Windoze or DOS (What Microsoft brought out before Windoze, very primitive, but very good) 2) Get one or more decent anti-virus and update them regularly – I personally use CA Inoculate IT – get it at [1]www.antivirus.cai.com, you can update it every day if you want for free, but I usually only update it every 2 weeks. 3) Be careful where you get your software from – Only get it from reputable stores or websites. If you are suspicious, don’t buy / download / run it! 4) Read, read and read – Keep up to date on all security issues and virus information.

Good sites include [2]www.bugtraq.com, [3]www.rootshell.com and [4]www.microsoft.com (Hmmm, isn’t that the source of all the problems? Well, they do have all the updates for Windoze and Microsoft products). Basically viruses aren’t as big a threat as the media makes them out to be. I personally have a collection of around twenty or more viruses, some harmful, some not. In the finally edit / copy of this essay there will be a floppy disk containing the source code for some of the most famous and not so (but just a dangerous) famous viruses. But, before you go mental at me for giving out viruses to anyone, I have edited them so that they don’t do any damage unless you know good programming then you could change it back. But, I leave that choice to you, and remember, if you use the source (edited or not) and get caught, then don’t blame me, I didn’t tell you to do it. (PS. You can get the full unedited source code and a few of my own at my website. I’ll tell you where it is in the next edit / copy).

References

1. http://www.antivirus.cai.com/

2. http://www.bugtraq.com/

3. http://www.rootshell.com/

4. http://www.microsoft.com/

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