A computer virus works in much the same way: A computer virus requires a host program. A computer virus requires user action to transmit from one system to another.
A computer virus attaches bits of its own malicious code to other files or replaces files outright with copies of itself. Worms, on the other hand, are able to spread across systems and networks on their own, making them much more prevalent and dangerous. Famously, the WannaCry ransomware worm spread around the world, took down thousands of Windows systems, and raked in an appreciable amount of untraceable Bitcoin ransom payments for the alleged North Korean attackers.
Should we still take computer viruses seriously? Definitely, yes. Continuing the virus analogy, if a given population stops receiving vaccinations for diseases thought to be eradicated, like the measles and polio, those diseases can and do come back. Otherwise, computer viruses could make a comeback. Is It a Virus? What fun! Is a Trojan a virus?
Trojans can be viruses. A Trojan could be a seemingly benign file downloaded off the web or a Word doc attached to an email. Think that movie you downloaded from your favorite P2P sharing site is safe? Think twice, because they could contain a virus. Is a worm a virus? Worms are not viruses, though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Even worse, the terms are sometimes used together in a strange and contradictory word salad; i. As mentioned earlier, a virus needs a host system to replicate and some sort of action from a user to spread from one system to the next.
Once on a system, worms are known to drop malware often ransomware or open a backdoor. Is ransomware a virus? Ransomware can be a virus. In fact, the very first ransomware was a virus more on that later. Nowadays, most ransomware comes as a result of computer worm, capable of spreading from one system to the next and across networks without user action e. Is a rootkit a virus? Rootkits are not viruses. Is a software bug a virus? Software bugs are not viruses.
A software bug refers to a flaw or mistake in the computer code that a given software program is made up of. Software bugs can cause programs to behave in ways the software manufacturer never intended. The Y2K bug famously caused programs to display the wrong date, because the programs could only manage dates through the year After the year rolled over like the odometer on an old car to While the Y2K bug was relatively harmless, some software bugs can pose a serious threat to consumers. Cybercriminals can take advantage of bugs in order to gain unauthorized access to a system for the purposes of dropping malware, stealing private information, or opening up a backdoor.
This is known as an exploit. Latest news on computer viruses Our computers, ourselves: All the tactics and techniques employed by cybercriminals creating modern malware were first seen in early viruses.
Things like Trojans, ransomware, and polymorphic code. These all came from early computer viruses. The final number infected was likely even higher than that. A few days after the release of the virus, The Times spoke to Steve R. David Smith, the confessed author of the Melissa virus, pleaded guilty to computer crimes related to Melissa. They tracked him down electronically, just a week after the malware was released. He claimed it was originally meant to be a harmless joke.
Two decades ago, computer viruses—and public awareness of the tricks used to unleash them—were still relatively new. The fast-moving and destructive Melissa virus changed that in a significant way. Learn more: In fact, I included features designed to prevent substantial damage. The judge who oversaw his case also told Smith to stay away from computer networks or the internet unless authorized by the court.
Slow updating Microsoft eventually released a patch for Exchange Server to block Melissa infected messages. There was no process to quickly update software back then. Back then, Windows and Office had no proper anti-virus protection. No way to tell if the code was a virus or not. Any sane computer user had to install separate anti-virus software from a bewildering range of suppliers.
Office Watch recommended everyone install anti-virus software. Windows Defender is part of Windows, is updated automatically and does a good job keeping nasties off computers. All incoming emails and documents are scanned in the background as they are saved. Making money from viruses The big change is the way companies, especially Microsoft, deal with computer viruses.
Upgrades to Office are sold partly based on increased anti-virus and security protection. Even now, Microsoft is pushing people to move from Windows 7 and Office because security updates for those products will stop in No end to the security bugs in Windows or Office Despite all the promises of improved security in Microsoft products, rarely a month goes by without some new bug being found and eventually patched in Windows or Office.
Some of the bugs are complex and obscure. Others are embarrassing to Microsoft because they are simple and have been there for many years — unnoticed and unpatched. The old Equation Editor in Office was a way to infect computers that Microsoft sent out with every Office installation for seventeen years.
That bug was so old that it seems Microsoft had lost the source code and had to binary hack the program itself.
Attorney Christopher J. Christie and state Attorney General David Samson announced. David L. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. Finally, Judge Greenaway said Smith must serve hours of community service upon release. Smith will be allowed to voluntarily surrender in the coming weeks, after the U. Bureau of Prisons designates a prison facility for him. On Friday, May 3 at 9 a. Lawson in Freehold, Monmouth County. The state sentence is to run concurrently and co-terminously to the federal sentence.
Smith pleaded guilty on Dec. The two prosecutions are the result of cooperative state and federal investigations of Smith, who, at his guilty pleas, admitted spreading the computer virus across North America from his home computer in Aberdeen Township.
Law enforcement can employ technology too and track down virus writers and hackers through the electronic fingerprints they invariably leave behind. Judge Greenaway determined the actual sentence under the U. Judge Greenaway determined that Smith faced a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months under the Sentencing Guidelines. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Under Sentencing Guidelines, defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.
On the same day as the federal guilty plea, Smith pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Freehold to a one-count accusation, charging the second-degree offense of computer-related theft. The state has recommend a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The state plea agreement provides that the federal sentencing would occur first and that, at the subsequent state sentencing, New Jersey authorities would recommend that the state sentence run co-terminously and concurrently to the federal sentence.
At his plea hearings, Smith admitted that he created the Melissa virus and disseminated it from his home computer. He said that he constructed the virus to evade anti-virus software and to infect computers using the Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT operating systems and the Microsoft Word 97 and Word word processing programs.
The Melissa virus appeared on thousands of email systems on March 26, , disguised as an important message from a colleague or friend. Such emails would only be sent if the computers used Microsoft Outlook for email. Because each infected computer could infect 50 additional computers, which in turn could infect another 50 computers, the virus proliferated rapidly and exponentially, resulting in substantial interruption or impairment of public communications or services.
According to reports from business and government following the spread of the virus, its rapid distribution disrupted computer networks by overloading email servers, resulting in the shutdown of networks and significant costs to repair or cleanse computer systems.
Opening and downloading the message caused the Melissa virus to infect victim computers. The virus altered Microsoft word processing programs such that any document created using the programs would then be infected with the Melissa virus. The virus also lowered macro security settings in the word processing programs.
Smith acknowledged that each new email greeted new users with an enticing message to open and, thus, spread the virus further. The message read: The federal prosecution was handled by Assistant U. Attorney Elliot Turrini.
For its cooperation, Christie and Samson thanked America Online. Christie gave special credit also to ICSA. Statutues to which Smith pleaded guilty: C Sections a 5 A and 2.