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. Conclusion 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.

Bibliography

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.