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COMPUTER VIRUS

COMPUTER VIRUS

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Published by api-3735476
VIRUS DEFINITION, TYPES AND MANY MORE ABOUT VIRUSES
VIRUS DEFINITION, TYPES AND MANY MORE ABOUT VIRUSES

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Published by: api-3735476 on Oct 16, 2008
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Computer virus
A
computer virus
is a
computer program
that can copy itself and infect acomputer without permission or knowledge of the user. The original may modify thecopies or the copies may modify themselves, as occurs in a
metamorphic virus
. Avirus can only spread from one computer to another when its host is taken to theuninfected computer, for instance by a user sending it over a network or carrying iton a removable medium such as a
floppy disk
,
CD
, or 
USB drive
. Additionally,viruses can spread to other computers by infecting files on a
network file system
or a file system that is accessed by another computer. Viruses are sometimesconfused with
computer worms
and
Trojan horses
. A worm, however, can spreaditself to other computers without needing to be transferred as part of a host. A Trojanhorse is a file that appears harmless until executed. In contrast to viruses, Trojanhorses do not insert their code into other computer files. Many personal computersare now connected to the Internet and to local-area networks, facilitating their spread. Today's viruses may also take advantage of network services such as the
World Wide Web
,
e-mail
, and
file sharing
systems to spread, blurring the linebetween viruses and worms. Furthermore, some sources use an alternativeterminology in which a virus is any form of self-replicating
malware
.The term comes from the term virus in
biology
. A computer virus reproducesby making, possibly modified, copies of itself in the computer's memory, storage, or over a network. This is similar to the way a biological virus works.Some viruses are programmed to damage the computer by damagingprograms, deleting files, or reformatting the hard disk. Others are not designed to doany damage, but simply replicate themselves and perhaps make their presenceknown by presenting text, video, or audio messages. Even these benign viruses cancreate problems for the
computer user 
. They typically take up computer memoryused by legitimate programs. As a result, they often cause erratic behavior and canresult in system crashes. In addition, many viruses are bug-ridden, and these bugsmay lead to system crashes and data loss.There are many viruses operating in the general Internet today, and new ones arediscovered every day.
History
A program called "Elk Cloner" is credited with being the first computer virus toappear "in the wild" — that is, outside the single computer or lab where it wascreated. Written in 1982 by Rich Skrenta, it attached itself to the Apple DOS 3.3operating system and spread by floppy disk. This virus was originally a joke, createdby the high school student and put onto a game. The game was set to play, butrelease the virus on the 50th time of starting the game. Only this time, instead of playing the game, it would change to a blank screen that read a poem about thevirus named Elk Cloner. The computer would then be infected.The first PC virus was a boot sector virus called (c) Brain, created in 1986 bytwo brothers, Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi, operating out of Lahore, Pakistan. The
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brothers reportedly created the virus to deter pirated copies of software they hadwritten. However, analysts have claimed that the Ashar virus, a variant of Brain,possibly predated it based on code within the virus.Before computer networks became widespread, most viruses spread onremovable media, particularly floppy disks. In the early days of the personalcomputer, many users regularly exchanged information and programs on floppies.Some viruses spread by infecting programs stored on these disks, while othersinstalled themselves into the diskboot sector , ensuring that they would be run whenthe user booted the computer from the disk.Traditional computer viruses emerged in the 1980s, driven by the spread of personal computers and the resultant increase inBBSandmodemuse, and software sharing.Bulletin boarddriven software sharing contributed directly to thespread of Trojan horse programs, and viruses were written to infect popularly tradedsoftware.Sharewareandbootlegsoftware were equally commonvectorsfor viruses on BBS's. Within the "pirate scene" of hobbyists trading illicit copies of commercial software, traders in a hurry to obtain the latest applications and games were easytargets for viruses.Since the mid-1990s,macro viruseshave become common. Most of theseviruses are written in the scripting languages for Microsoft programs such asWord andExcel. These viruses spread inMicrosoft Officeby infecting documents and spreadsheets. Since Word and Excel were also available for Mac OS, most of theseviruses were able to spread onMacintosh computersas well. Most of these virusesdid not have the ability to send infectede-mail. Those viruses which did spreadthrough e-mail took advantage of theMicrosoft Outlook COMinterface. Macro viruses pose unique problems for detection software. For example,some versions of Microsoft Word allowed macros to replicate themselves withadditional blank lines. The virus behaved identically but would be misidentified as anew virus. In another example, if two macro viruses simultaneously infect adocument, the combination of the two, if also self-replicating, can appear as a"mating" of the two and would likely be detected as a virus unique from the"parents".
A virus may also send aweb addresslink as an instant message to all thecontacts on an infected machine. If the recipient, thinking the link is from a friend (atrusted source) follows the link to the website, the virus hosted at the site may beable to infect this new computer and continue propagating.The newest species of the virus family is the cross-site scripting virus. Thevirus emerged from research and was academically demonstrated in 2005. Thisvirus utilizescross-site scriptingvulnerabilities to propagate. Since 2005 there havebeen multiple instances of the cross-site scripting viruses in the wild, most notablesites affected have beenMySpaceandYahoo.
Etymology
The word virus is derived from and used in the same sense as the biologicalequivalent. The term "virus" is often used in common parlance to describe all kindsof malware(malicious software), including those that are more properly classified as
2 |Page
 
wormsor Trojans. Most popular anti-virus softwarepackages defend against all of  these types of attack. In some technical communities, the term "virus" is alsoextended to include the authors of malware, in an insulting sense. TheEnglish plural of "virus" is "viruses". Some people use "virii" or "viri" as a plural, but this is rare. For a discussion about whether "viri" and "virii" are correct alternatives of "viruses", seeplural of virus.The term "virus" was first used in an academic publication byFred Coheninhis 1984 paper 
Experiments with Computer Viruses
, where he creditsLen Adleman with coining it. However, a 1972science fictionnovel byDavid Gerrold,
includes a description of a fictional computer program called"VIRUS" that worked just like a virus (and was countered by a program called"VACCINE"). The term "computer virus" with current usage also appears in thecomic book 
#158, written byChris Claremontand published in1982. Therefore, although Cohen's use of "virus" may, perhaps, have been the first"academic" use, the term had been used earlier.
Classification
Viruses can be subdivided into a number of types based on their features.
Macro viruses
A
, often written in the scripting languages for programs such asWordandExcel, is spread by infecting documents and spreadsheets. Since macro viruses are written in the language of the application and not in that of the operatingsystem, they are known to be platform-independent. They can spread betweenWindows, Mac and any other system, so long as they are running the requiredapplication. With the ever-increasing capabilities of macro languages in applications,and the possibility of infections spreading over networks, these viruses are major threats.The first macro virus was written for Microsoft Word and was discovered inAugust 1995. Today, there are thousands of macro viruses in existence—someexamples are Relax, Melissa.A and Bablas. pc.
Network viruses
This kind of virus is proficient in quickly spreading across a Local AreaNetwork (LAN) or even over the Internet. Usually, it propagates through sharedresources, such as shared drives and folders. Once it infects a new system, itsearches for potential targets by searching the network for other vulnerable systems.Once a new vulnerable system is found, the network virus infects the other system,and thus spreads over the network. Some of the most notorious network viruses areNimda and SQLSlammer.
Logic bomb
A
employs code that lies inert until specific conditions are met.The resolution of the conditions will trigger a certain function (such as printing amessage to the user and/or deleting files). Logic bombs may reside withinstandalone programs, or they may be part of worms or viruses. An example of a
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