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THE COMPUTER VIRUSES

A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and


infect a computer. The term "virus" is also commonly but erroneously used
to refer to other types of malware, adware, and spyware programs that do not
have the reproductive ability.

Virus is written by Virus writers. They belong to one of four broad


groups: cyber-vandals, who can be divided into two categories, and more
serious programmers, who can again be split into two groups. Virus writers
and hackers also ensure that adware, dialers, utilities that redirect browsers
to pay-to-view sites and other types of unwanted software function
efficiently. Such programs can generate profits for the computer
underground, so it's in the interests of virus writers and hackers to make sure
that these programs are not detected and are regularly updated.

Why do they write viruses?

Fraud

The computer underground has realised that paid for Internet services,
such as Internet access, email and web hosting, provides new opportunities
for illegal activity with the additional satisfaction of getting something for
nothing. Virus writers have authored a range of Trojans which steal login
information and passwords to gain free access to other users' Internet
resources.

The first password stealing Trojans appeared in 1997: the aim was to
gain access to AOL. By 1998 similar Trojans appeared for all other major
Internet service providers. Trojans stealing log in data for dial-up ISPs, AOL
and other Internet services are usually written by people with limited means
to support their Internet habit, or by people who do not accept that Internet
resources are a commercial service just like any other, and must therefore be
paid for.
For a long time, this group of Trojans constituted a significant portion
of the daily 'catch' for antivirus companies worldwide. Today, the numbers
are decreasing in proportion to the decreasing cost of Internet access.

Computer games and software license keys are another target for
cyber fraud. Once again, Trojans providing free access to these resources are
written by and for people with limited financial resources. Some hacking
and cracking utilities are also written by so-called 'freedom fighters', who
proclaim that all information should be shared freely throughout the
computing community. However, fraud remains a crime, no matter how
noble the aim is made out to be.

Organised cyber crime

The most dangerous virus writers are individuals and groups who
have turned professional. These people either extract money directly from
end users (either by theft or by fraud) or use zombie machines to earn money
in other ways, such as creating and selling a spamming platform, or
organizing DoS attacks, with the aim here being blackmail.

Most of today's serious outbreaks are caused by professional virus


writers who organize the blanket installations of Trojans to victim machines.
This may be done by using worms, links to infected sites or other Trojans.

Bot networks

Currently, virus writers either work for particular spammers or sell


their wares to the highest bidder. Today, one standard procedure is for virus
writers to create bot networks, i.e. networks of zombie computer infected
with identical malicious code. In the case of networks used as spamming
platforms, a Trojan proxy server will penetrate the victim machines. These
networks number from a thousand to tens of thousands of infected machines.
The virus writers then sell these networks to the highest bidder in the
computer underground.

Such networks are generally used as spamming platforms. Hacker


utilities can be used to ensure that these networks run efficiently; malicious
software is installed without the knowledge or consent of the user, adware
programs can be camoflaged to prevent detection and deletion, and antivirus
software may be attacked.
Financial gain

Apart from servicing spam and adware, professional virus writers also
create Tojan spies which they use to steal money from e-wallets, Pay Pal
accounts and/or directly from Internet bank accounts. These Trojans harvest
banking and payment information from local machines or even corporate
servers and then forward it to the master.

Cyber extortion

The third major form of contemporary cyber crime is extortion or


Internet rackets. Usually, virus writers create a network of zombie machines
capable of conducting an organized DoS attack. Then they blackmail
companies by threatening to conduct a DoS attack against the corporate
website. Popular targets include estores, banking and gambling sites, i.e.
companies whose revenues are generated directly by their on-line presence.

The computer can be infected by a virus when we


download a data, a song or a file on internet. It can also be
infected virus when we use USB, a mp3, a memory stick, a
CD or a free software .

Help Prevent Computer Viruses


Nothing can guarantee the security of your computer 100 percent.

You can continue to improve your computer's security and decrease the
possibility of infection by using a firewall, keeping your system up-to-date,
maintaining a current antivirus software subscription, and following a few
best practices.

Tip: Because no security method is guaranteed, it's important to back up


critical files on a regular basis before you encounter a virus or other
problems.

Steps to help avoid viruses:


1. Use an Internet firewall.
Note: Windows Vista and Windows XP with SP2 has a firewall already
built-in and turned on by default.

2. Visit Microsoft Update to verify your settings and check for updates.
Note: If you've installed the most recent version of Microsoft Office,
Microsoft Update will also update your Office programs.

3. Subscribe to antivirus software and keep it current.

4. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don't know.

5. Avoid opening an e-mail attachment from someone you know, unless


you know exactly what the attachment is. The sender may be unaware
that it contains a virus.

6. Use a standard user account unless you need to use an Administrator


Account. For more information, see Why use a standard user account
instead of an administrator account.

What about spyware?

Although spyware programs are different from viruses, some can behave
like viruses and pose similar and other risks. To help protect against
spyware, use antispyware software such as Windows Defender. Windows
Defender comes with Windows Vista. If you use Windows XP SP2, you can
download Windows Defender for no charge.

Interesting Story About Computer Virus

Hacker Infects School Video Systems with Socialism


Virus
Written by Glimmerhorn

A hacker apparently infiltrated hundreds of school

video systems across the United States Tuesday and


introduced the virulent socialism virus into them. Monitors
from the Fox Fruitcake Company, who discovered the
hacking and disclosed it to the public, identified the hacker
as Barack Obama, a president of the United States.

The virus works by redirecting schoolchildren to links to


radical ideas known to be promulgated by the international
socialist movement. Typical effects of the virus cited by Fox
Fruitcake are leading children to think staying in school and
working hard are beneficial.

A number of parents across the country pulled their children


from school to prevent them from being exposed to the
virus. "It's a socialist plot to undercut the free enterprise
system," said one parent, I. M. Looney of Houston. "They're
trying to force our kids to stay in school so they won't be
able to go to work. Who's going to get the jobs at
McDonald's if our kids are forced to stay in school? I'll tell
you-Mexicans, that's who."

A Fox Fruitcake monitor said schoolchildren were particularly


vulnerable to the virus. "They're very impressionable," the
monitor said. "If they're exposed to radical socialist ideas
that brainwash them, they may come to believe that
slacking off isn't the way to succeed. The results would be
catastrophic."

Other parents feared the virus would have even more severe
long-term consequences. "It's insidious," said Watt A. Nutt
of Memphis. "Once it's in the schools' video systems, it can
take over the whole curriculum and start indoctrinating our
kids in hard-core Communist ideas, like the world isn't flat,
and 2 + 2 isn't 5."

Fox Fruitcake is working on a patch to counter the virus but


warned it could take some time to develop. "In the
meantime, thousands of schoolchildren are at risk of being
exposed to socialist ideas," said one monitor. "We're afraid
they might start working hard before schools can isolate the
virus."