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Keeping Your Company Safe from Computer Viruses

Essay by   •  August 28, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,264 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,743 Views

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While there have been many technological advances throughout the last couple of decades in the computer world that have benefited society there have also been one that have hurt it. With all these advances we have seen a growth of computer in more households which enable people access to the internet and opens up worlds to the user at the time. People are now able to share freely information across great distances in seconds with email, social networking, other forms of communications across the web. With these newly opened doors in technology and commuting it has also opened doors to the dark side of the computing world - the computer virus. The Internet now just a gateway to make a hacker's life easier for them to commit their immoral practices. These hackers affect business's in so many ways that they can bring a legitimate company crumbling down with the right virus, skill, and computing prowess. With this technology to do harm out there, people are trying to stop this insidious behavior through software companies producing programs to protect the legitimate user from the disaster of being hacked.

Computer viruses are malicious programs that are used to infect a computer by replicating itself and spreading from computer to computer behind the scenes of your everyday actions on the computer. (Solomon, 1992) If these malicious programs are not caught in time they can erase all the data from your hard drive, erase individual programs and files, or anything else and intelligent hacker would be able to come up with. Viruses are always potentially dangerous computer programs and are created for the sole purpose destroying or manipulation data that in comes into contact with. Hackers prefer this kind of malicious program because it is hard to trace and can be widely disseminated across the internet quickly. (Solomon, 1992) When the program has infiltrated a computers security the virus will replicate itself and infect other programs, which leads to the other programs no functioning properly. (Cast, 2011) Of course for the virus to actually be put on to a computer the unknowing user has to click on and executable file and follow the instructions which are called the payload of the virus and this is what will disrupt and change data files, display irrelevant information, and cause the operations system to not work properly.

The first modern viruses were conceived and formalized by Fred Cohen as a USC graduate student in 1983. (Cohen, 1987)This virus was known as the DOS-based Brain virus and was actually written by two Pakistani programmers. This was the start of the classification of evolution of viruses which were categorized into four waves of time.

The first wave occurred from 1979 to the early 1990's. During this wave viruses were mainly experimental and were boot-sector viruses and targeted MS DOS. Then in 1987 the "Christmas Exec" virus was one of the first to be spread by e-mail along the IBM mainframes and is an early example of social engineering since the file had to be executed through the email. (Chen, Jean-Marc, 2004)

In the second wave from the early 1990's to 1998 the computing world seen a jump in virus activity. This was the wave where the virus craze shifted from DOS to Windows as the primary target for attacks. Also during this time hackers would start to use more social engineering and email as their main infection point. They also began to encryt the vitus to get passed the anti-virus software that was being developed at the time. Polymorphism became a problem in 1992 when hacker, Dark Avenger, developed a user-friendly Mutation Engine to help other hacker add it to their own code. Also in 1995 the first macro virus was written for Word for Windows 95. These soon lost popularity after offices started disabling macros in their programs. (Chen, Jean-Marc, 2004)

The third wave was from 1990 to late 2000 and was geared toward mass E-mailers. (Chen, Jean-Marc, 2004) This type of attach is still very popular today and in 1999 was one of the most well known viruses spread and took place, the Milissa macro virus. This virus spread to 100,000 hosts around the world in just three days, setting a new record and shutting down e-mail for many companies using Microsoft Exchange Server. This was an evolutionary period and what leads us into the fourth wave. (Cass, 2001)

For the fourth wave it is what occurring from late 2000's on. (Chen, Jean-Marc, 2004) Programmers and virus writers are working together now ad coordinating attacks to come up with the perfect infection. The programmers are able to incorporate all levels of access now and combining them to make viruses stronger and less susceptible to ant-virus software and user identifications.

In today's business world to get ahead of the competition every company looks for that advantage to be on top of the industry. There in company espionage, service of hackers to breach other systems, and many other reasons companies should be concerned about viruses. I deal with highly classified information everyday and for our company to get breached would be a national security incident. (Cast, 2011) These companies and not just mine have a huge amounts of information that they don't want to divulge to the public about their everyday operations and secrets for business success.

In 2009 a Windows virus by the name of Downadup, Conflicker or Kido was released with its main targets being corporate Windows servers belonging to small businesses who have not installed the latest security updates released by Microsoft at the time. (Markoff, 2009) The virus was spread via the internet, through un-patched corporate networks, and through USB attached to infected computers by the users. This was the largest attack since 2003 SQL slammer which uses many different techniques to stop the system from picking the virus up. (Markoff, 2009) Microsoft has since released a removal guide for the infected machines, then updating to new software removal and applying patches so you be re-infected. Even though all of these patches have been put out there and virus removal guides the infection still exists out there. Another virus that was devastating in the corporate world and as well as the federal agencies was the Love Letter. The virus was fast moving and undetectable by a normal user because it looked like a normal e-mal text file. This virus did not only infect most federal agencies, the virus also affected many large companies like, AT&T, TWA, Ford Motor Company, and many others. It also affected many media companies such as the Washington Post, Dow Jones, and even the ABC New. Along with that local government and international organizations including the International Monetary Fund, British Parliament, and many foreign banking networks work compromised. (Seltzer, 2010) This would



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