Destructive Internet worms appear over PC users' ignorance

First computer viruses appeared out of curiosity

Almost all tech news about computers and Internet have something to do with viruses, worms and other electronic contagion. Specialists believe that computer viruses are created by teenagers, who suffer from sexual complexes. In other words, they commit a crime for fun and for free. This is just one of the reasons. Virus-makers probably want to exercise their skills and professionalism to obtain other kind of hacking work for good money. In addition, hackers and spammers currently consolidate to develop the “business.” Viruses are used to hack personal computers and send spam mail to them. This is quite large business, which brings tens of millions of dollars every year.

Specialists do not exclude a possibility that computer viruses are made to test defensive capacities of various systems: hackers need to train like everyone else. Any serious special service has a special department, which wages so-called cyberwars. Some viruses are launched from those departments to test defensive capacities of Russian, American and European networks.

One may take preventive measures to stop viruses from spreading on the Internet.  Anti-virus laboratories provide immediate reaction to viruses 24 hours a day. It would be enough to reduce the virus activity and avoid the epidemics that we can witness nowadays. Computer users, however, scarcely use anti-virus programs. All leading producers released data base updates within one or three hours in the beginning of the Mydoom epidemic. The virus, however, was gaining strength for two more weeks, because only 30 or 50 percent of personal computers are outfitted with anti-virus programs. Furthermore, only 10-20 percent of machines update their anti-virus databases. Therefore, only 5-10 percent of all computers in the world use fresh anti-virus programs. If people do not wash their hands before eating, the epidemic of cholera is not supposed to seem surprising. One should take efforts to launch Mydoom: to open the attachment, unzip the file and launch the program. The epidemic, however, occurred anyway.

There are several reasons, which push virus-makers to spreading harmful programs worldwide. Hackers, young men as a rule, want to do something mischievous that would give them more confidence. Some of them want to prove to themselves that they have achieved an important level of their intellectual development. Disposition to computer hooliganism does not last long, as a rule, but one generation changes another, which makes the process last forever. Hacking keeps its vitality owing to two major factors: anonymity and the absence of responsibility. Unfortunately, the modern world wide web is defenseless in front of such destructive goals. 

Fraud is another reason for computer viruses to appear: undetectable control over hacked computers, passwords theft, online embezzlement, etc. The list of harmful programs has been recently added with commercial viruses. They are made to hack local networks. The hacked machines are then used to send spam mail.

Three rules may help slow down the spreading of viruses. Anti-virus programs should be provided with latest software. Programs are to be updated on daily basis when using the Internet. The knowledge and experience of anti-virus experts allows to detect a danger before it hits the target. Finally, the majority of most dangerous viruses penetrate into personal computers through “program holes,” and a user does not notice anything. There is a certain product available on the market today – so-called patches that block possible ways for a virus to crush a system.

Most likely, first computer viruses appeared out of curiosity. One does not have to be highly skilled to make a virus nowadays: it is enough to find adequate instructions on the Internet.

Modern computer epidemics are called network worms. The term ‘virus’ was picked on account of similarity to biological viruses, when alien “genetic material” penetrates into a living “cell-program.”

The creation of the global computer network gave birth to new opportunities for the commercial usage of worms. They are frequently used to send programs that allow to control an infected computer from afar. The programs also send spam mail, which does not reveal its true source.

The most important issue in fighting viruses today is to add their peculiar features to the database, find a method to kill the virus and make the updated base available
to all users. The speed and scale of computer epidemics makes every minute count. An anti-virus program may also analyze the code of a worm and detect any semblance of destructive activities in it. When the program traces enough of such actions, it will be signaled as suspicious, which will help detect new viruses on time.

One should take into consideration the fact that the majority of pc users have a rough impression of what a computer is. It is impossible to explain to the majority of users that it is necessary to run the updates of antivirus database regularly. That is why it is vital to have the antivirus software on the Internet, especially on mail servers.

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Author`s name Olga Savka