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Comput Viruses Essay, Research Paper

Computer Viruses

The quote ?The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a lead-lined room with armed guards ? and even then I have my doubts.?(E.H. Spafford) of this report will explain how computer viruses have affected on society and the security of personal computers.

There literally hundreds of viruses circulating for personal computers and many anti-viral packages that claim to remove the code from your computer. Some viruses are polymorphic; that is, they change with each infection in an attempt to avoid detection by anti-virus programs. As quickly as someone writes an anti-virus program, someone else writes a new virus that hides more successfully than in the past.

Do to the harshness of some viruses; people have devised methods of detecting and removing them. The anti-viral programs will scan the entire hard drive looking for evidence that viruses may have infected it. These programs must be told very specifically what to look for on the hard drive. There are two main methods of detecting viruses on a computer. The first is to compare all of the viruses on the hard disk to known types of viruses. While this method is very accurate, it can be made totally useless when dealing with a new and previously unknown virus. The other method is the way in which a common cloning virus adapts. All that a cloning virus really does is look at what operations the computer is executing and reacts and adapts to them by making more copies of it. This is the serious mistake with cloning viruses: all the copies of itself look the same. Basically all data in a computer is stored in a byte structure format. These bytes, which are similar to symbols, occur in specific orders and lengths. Each of the cloned viruses has the same order and length of the byte structure. All that the anti-virus program has to do is scan the hard drive for byte structures that are duplicated several times and delete them. This method is an excellent way of dealing with the adaptive and reproducing format of cloning viruses. The disadvantage is that it can produce a number of false alarms such as when a user has two copies of the same file.

Virus-specific detection and removal techniques required detailed analysis of each new virus as it is discovered. Computer virus experts must identify strange sequences of instructions that appear in the viral code but not in normal programs. These experts develop cures to remove these viruses from any infected hosts.

While there are thousands of DOS viruses, less than 10% of them have been seen in actual virus incidents within the population that companies monitor. These are the viruses that actually constitute a problem for the general population of PC users. It is very important that anti-virus software detect viruses that have been observed ?in the wild?. The remainder are rarely seen outside of the collections of anti-virus groups like IBM. Although many of them might never spread significantly, viruses that are not prevalent remain of interest to the anti-virus society. Companies must always be prepared for the possibility that a low-profile virus will start to become prevalent. This requires them to be familiar with all viruses, prevalent or not, and to incorporate a knowledge of as many of them as possible into anti-virus software.

It is not only the destructive nature of computer viruses that make them so dangerous in today?s society in the business sector, but also their ability to relate themselves to their surroundings and react in ways that allow them to proceed undetected to wreck more havoc on personal computer users across the world.


Viruses have been around quite some time now and I can assure you that it will be around just about forever. Over a decade now, there are people who are constantly coming up with new ways of making life in the computer world very difficult. The trend of technology is changing so rapidly that something such as viruses will also follow the trend. Therefore, what we all should realize that the activity that goes on and how we can base the information provided to help prevent the spread of virus activity in the future.

1. JEFFREY O. KEPHART, GREGORY B. SORKIN, DAVID M. CHESS and STEVE R. WHITE. ?Fighting Computer viruses? www.sciam.com/1197issue/1197kephart.html

2. Steve R. White, Jeff Kephart, David M. Chess, ?Computer Viruses: A Global Perspective? www.av.ibm.com/PapersFrame/papersframe.html

3. Suguitan. G, ?Fighting Computer viruses? www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409bs98/suguitan/report1.

4. Solomon, Dr. Alan. ?A future impact to Viruses.? www.drsolomon.com/vircen/vanalyse/future.cfm

5. Tippett, Peter S. ?Alive!? www.bocklabs.wisc.edu/~janda/alive10.html. 1995.

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