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Author Topic: How Computer Viruses Work  (Read 4619 times)

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miljo123@gmail.com

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How Computer Viruses Work
« on: 23. January 2010., 12:46:01 »
Strange as it may sound, the computer virus is something of an Information Age marvel. On one hand, viruses show us how vulnerable we are -- a properly engineered virus can have a devastating effect, disrupting productivity and doing billions of dollars in damages. On the other hand, they show us how sophisticated and interconnected human beings have become.

For example, experts estimate that the Mydoom worm infected approximately a quarter-million computers in a single day in January 2004. Back in March 1999, the Melissa virus was so powerful that it forced Microsoft and a number of other very large companies to completely turn off their e-mail systems until the virus could be contained. The ILOVEYOU virus in 2000 had a similarly devastating effect. In January 2007, a worm called Storm appeared -- by October, experts believed up to 50 million computers were infected. That's pretty impressive when you consider that many viruses are incredibly simple.
When you listen to the news, you hear about many different forms of electronic infection. The most common are:

    * Viruses - A virus is a small piece of software that piggybacks on real programs. For example, a virus might attach itself to a program such as a spreadsheet program. Each time the spreadsheet program runs, the virus runs, too, and it has the chance to reproduce (by attaching to other programs) or wreak havoc.
    * E-mail viruses - An e-mail virus travels as an attachment to e-mail messages, and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim's e-mail address book. Some e-mail viruses don't even require a double-click -- they launch when you view the infected message in the preview pane of your e-mail software [source: Johnson].
    * Trojan horses - A Trojan horse is simply a computer program. The program claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk). Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically.
    * Worms - A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of the worm scans the network for another machine that has a specific security hole. It copies itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there, as well.

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How Computer Viruses Work
« on: 23. January 2010., 12:46:01 »




fotis100

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #1 on: 12. March 2010., 09:39:51 »
thanks for useful info

tuyugi007

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #2 on: 14. March 2010., 13:32:02 »
Thank you very much it is to my knowledge

mondolfo

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #3 on: 14. March 2010., 14:43:33 »
Thanks, great info.

mikelangelo11

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #4 on: 27. March 2010., 06:34:05 »
Both boot sector viruses and executable viruses are still possible, but they are a lot harder now and they don't spread nearly as quickly as they once could. Call it "shrinking habitat," if you want to use a biological analogy. The environment of floppy disks, small programs and weak operating systems made these viruses possible in the 1980s, but that environmental niche has been largely eliminated by huge executables, unchangeable CDs and better operating system safeguards.

E-mail Viruses
The latest thing in the world of computer viruses is the e-mail virus, and the Melissa virus in March 1999 was spectacular. Melissa spread in Microsoft Word documents sent via e-mail, and it worked like this:

Someone created the virus as a Word document uploaded to an Internet newsgroup. Anyone who downloaded the document and opened it would trigger the virus. The virus would then send the document (and therefore itself) in an e-mail message to the first 50 people in the person's address book. The e-mail message contained a friendly note that included the person's name, so the recipient would open the document thinking it was harmless. The virus would then create 50 new messages from the recipient's machine. As a result, the Melissa virus was the fastest-spreading virus ever seen! As mentioned earlier, it forced a number of large companies to shut down their e-mail systems.

The ILOVEYOU virus, which appeared on May 4, 2000, was even simpler. It contained a piece of code as an attachment. People who double clicked on the attachment allowed the code to execute. The code sent copies of itself to everyone in the victim's address book and then started corrupting files on the victim's machine. This is as simple as a virus can get. It is really more of a Trojan horse distributed by e-mail than it is a virus.

The Melissa virus took advantage of the programming language built into Microsoft Word called VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications. It is a complete programming language and it can be programmed to do things like modify files and send e-mail messages. It also has a useful but dangerous auto-execute feature. A programmer can insert a program into a document that runs instantly whenever the document is opened. This is how the Melissa virus was programmed. Anyone who opened a document infected with Melissa would immediately activate the virus. It would send the 50 e-mails, and then infect a central file called NORMAL.DOT so that any file saved later would also contain the virus! It created a huge mess.

Microsoft applications have a feature called Macro Virus Protection built into them to prevent this sort of thing. With Macro Virus Protection turned on (the default option is ON), the auto-execute feature is disabled. So when a document tries to auto-execute viral code, a dialog pops up warning the user. Unfortunately, many people don't know what macros or macro viruses are, and when they see the dialog they ignore it, so the virus runs anyway. Many other people turn off the protection mechanism. So the Melissa virus spread despite the safeguards in place to prevent it.

In the case of the ILOVEYOU virus, the whole thing was human-powered. If a person double-clicked on the program that came as an attachment, then the program ran and did its thing. What fueled this virus was the human willingness to double-click on the executable.

An Ounce of Prevention
You can protect yourself against viruses with a few simple steps:

* If you are truly worried about traditional (as opposed to e-mail) viruses, you should be running a more secure operating system like UNIX. You never hear about viruses on these operating systems because the security features keep viruses (and unwanted human visitors) away from your hard disk.

* If you are using an unsecured operating system, then buying virus protection software is a nice safeguard.

* If you simply avoid programs from unknown sources (like the Internet), and instead stick with commercial software purchased on CDs, you eliminate almost all of the risk from traditional viruses. In addition, you should disable floppy disk booting -- most computers now allow you to do this, and that will eliminate the risk of a boot sector virus coming in from a floppy disk accidentally left in the drive.

* You should make sure that Macro Virus Protection is enabled in all Microsoft applications, and you should NEVER run macros in a document unless you know what they do. There is seldom a good reason to add macros to a document, so avoiding all macros is a great policy.


Open the Options dialog from the Tools menu in Microsoft Word and make sure that Macro Virus Protection is enabled, as shown.

* You should never double-click on an attachment that contains an executable that arrives as an e-mail attachment. Attachments that come in as Word files (.DOC), spreadsheets (.XLS), images (.GIF and .JPG), etc., are data files and they can do no damage (noting the macro virus problem in Word and Excel documents mentioned above). A file with an extension like EXE, COM or VBS is an executable, and an executable can do any sort of damage it wants. Once you run it, you have given it permission to do anything on your machine. The only defense is to never run executables that arrive via e-mail.

By following those simple steps, you can remain virus free.

Origins
People create viruses. A person has to write the code, test it to make sure it spreads properly and then release the virus. A person also designs the virus's attack phase, whether it's a silly message or destruction of a hard disk. So why do people do it?

There are at least three reasons. The first is the same psychology that drives vandals and arsonists. Why would someone want to bust the window on someone else's car, or spray-paint signs on buildings or burn down a beautiful forest? For some people that seems to be a thrill. If that sort of person happens to know computer programming, then he or she may funnel energy into the creation of destructive viruses.

The second reason has to do with the thrill of watching things blow up. Many people have a fascination with things like explosions and car wrecks. When you were growing up, there was probably a kid in your neighborhood who learned how to make gunpowder and then built bigger and bigger bombs until he either got bored or did some serious damage to himself. Creating a virus that spreads quickly is a little like that -- it creates a bomb inside a computer, and the more computers that get infected the more "fun" the explosion.

The third reason probably involves bragging rights, or the thrill of doing it. Sort of like Mount Everest. The mountain is there, so someone is compelled to climb it. If you are a certain type of programmer and you see a security hole that could be exploited, you might simply be compelled to exploit the hole yourself before someone else beats you to it. "Sure, I could TELL someone about the hole. But wouldn't it be better to SHOW them the hole???" That sort of logic leads to many viruses.

Of course, most virus creators seem to miss the point that they cause real damage to real people with their creations. Destroying everything on a person's hard disk is real damage. Forcing the people inside a large company to waste thousands of hours cleaning up after a virus is real damage. Even a silly message is real damage because a person then has to waste time getting rid of it. For this reason, the legal system is getting much harsher in punishing the people who create viruses.

History
Traditional computer viruses were first widely seen in the late 1980s, and they came about because of several factors. The first factor was the spread of personal computers (PCs). Prior to the 1980s, home computers were nearly non-existent or they were toys. Real computers were rare, and they were locked away for use by "experts." During the 1980s, real computers started to spread to businesses and homes because of the popularity of the IBM PC (released in 1982) and the Apple Macintosh (released in 1984). By the late 1980s, PCs were widespread in businesses, homes and college campuses.

The second factor was the use of computer bulletin boards. People could dial up a bulletin board with a modem and download programs of all types. Games were extremely popular, and so were simple word processors, spreadsheets, etc. Bulletin boards led to the precursor of the virus known as the Trojan horse. A Trojan horse is a program that sounds really cool when you read about it. So you download it. When you run the program, however, it does something uncool like erasing your disk. So you think you are getting a neat game but it wipes out your system. Trojan horses only hit a small number of people because they are discovered quickly. Either the bulletin board owner would erase the file from the system or people would send out messages to warn one another.

The third factor that led to the creation of viruses was the floppy disk. In the 1980s, programs were small, and you could fit the operating system, a word processor (plus several other programs) and some documents onto a floppy disk or two. Many computers did not have hard disks, so you would turn on your machine and it would load the operating system and everything else off of the floppy disk.

Viruses took advantage of these three facts to create the first self-replicating programs.

Pez

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #5 on: 13. October 2010., 20:29:51 »
This give me a memory of a conferance that I was on and Dr Alen Solomon (Dr. Solomon Antivirus that now is a part of McAfee) was talking about the world most spred computer virus.
This was in the middle of the 1990┬┤th with Windows 3.11 and the brand new Windows 95.
He talled us that it depending of what a virus is. If it is a program that have a spread mecanism and it do a unwanted acction on a computer then ...

The worlds most spred virus is WINDOWS. "It spred like hell and it chraches program!"
:D
Their is two easy way to configure a system!
Every thing open and every thing closed.
Every thing else is more or less complex.

Start Turfing ! http://scforum.info/index.php/topic,8405.msg21475.html#msg21475

Samker

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #6 on: 13. October 2010., 21:22:22 »
The worlds most spred virus is WINDOWS. "It spred like hell and it chraches program!"
:D

:) :thumbsup:

danbsfc

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #7 on: 19. October 2010., 16:44:22 »
Thanks for the info!

Willfert

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #8 on: 24. November 2010., 18:11:56 »
There are several types and methods.

The early versions attached themselves to an executable program. Whenever you ran the program you loaded the virus into RAM - the main memory area.


krrjhn

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Re: How Computer Viruses Work
« Reply #9 on: 03. January 2011., 06:26:09 »
Its enough information about working of of viruses that you are providing !!

 

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