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Conference on the Theory and Application of Cryptography

CRYPTO 1988: Advances in Cryptology — CRYPTO’ 88 pp 354–374 Cite as

An Abstract Theory of Computer Viruses

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS,volume 403)

In recent years the detection of computer viruses has become common place. It appears that for the most part these viruses have been ‘benign’ or only mildly destructive. However, whether or not computer viruses have the potential to cause major and prolonged disruptions of computing environments is an open question.

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Research supported by NSF through grant CCR 8519296

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Cohen F. Computer Viruses. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, Jan. 1986.

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Cohen F. Computer Viruses-Theory and Experiments. Computers and Security 6 (1987) 22–35. North-Holland.

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Machtey M, Young P. An introduction to the general theory of algorithms. North-Holland, NY 1978.

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Rogers, H Jr. Theory of Recursive Functions and Effective Computability. McGraw-Hill Book Co., NY 1967.

Upchurch, H. The Scores Virus, unpublished manuscript, 1988.

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Department of Computer Science, University of Southern California, USA

Leonard M. Adleman

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Laboratory for Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA

Shafi Goldwasser

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Adleman, L.M. (1990). An Abstract Theory of Computer Viruses. In: Goldwasser, S. (eds) Advances in Cryptology — CRYPTO’ 88. CRYPTO 1988. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 403. Springer, New York, NY.

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Title: An introduction to computer viruses

This report on computer viruses is based upon a thesis written for the Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee in December 1989 by David R. Brown. This thesis is entitled An Analysis of Computer Virus Construction, Proliferation, and Control and is available through the University of Tennessee Library. This paper contains an overview of the computer virus arena that can help the reader to evaluate the threat that computer viruses pose. The extent of this threat can only be determined by evaluating many different factors. These factors include the relative ease with which a computer virus can be written, the motivation involved in writing a computer virus, the damage and overhead incurred by infected systems, and the legal implications of computer viruses, among others. Based upon the research, the development of a computer virus seems to require more persistence than technical expertise. This is a frightening proclamation to the computing community. The education of computer professionals to the dangers that viruses pose to the welfare of the computing industry as a whole is stressed as a means of inhibiting the current proliferation of computer virus programs. Recommendations are made to assist computer users in more » preventing infection by computer viruses. These recommendations support solid general computer security practices as a means of combating computer viruses. « less

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Dangers of Computer Viruses: Protect Your Devices

A computer virus is a malicious program that penetrates vulnerable devices to alter the way they function. There are many types of viruses, and new ones are constantly being created. This means that you need to have a robust security plan in place to deal with these ever-changing threats.

Replication is the singular feature that makes viruses so dangerous to computers. Once inside the host program, the virus will start to make copies of itself. It often spreads rapidly, and it can cause widespread damage to other software programs inside a device. It can even spread across networks and reach any systems connected to the network, damaging other endpoint devices and taking total control of the entire system. The virus can be challenging to eliminate once it gains access to the system.

What is a Computer Virus?

A computer virus is an illegal, harmful, or malicious program that can change the way your computer runs and behaves. Some of these programs seek to cause as much damage as possible to the endpoint devices they infect, like altering software programs or corrupting data. Other viruses will attempt to gain access to sensitive information. This information might include personal identifying information, credit card numbers, bank information, addresses, and other financial data. Other viruses will seek to steal information and also cause damage to your system.

computer virus thesis

What Causes Computer Virus Infections?

The best way to detect, block, and avoid computer viruses is to know where they’re coming from or what causes them. After answering the question, “what is a computer virus?”, the next step is to identify its types. Here are some of the common causes of computer viruses:

Opening suspicious email attachments

Attaching unsecured removable or external storage devices (e.g., flash drives, external hard drives, memory cards)

Accessing malicious websites

Clicking malicious ads

Downloading malicious and unlicensed applications

How Does a Computer Virus Spread Infection?

Computer viruses have many characteristics and behaviors that create signs of an infection, so if there are any sudden changes in your computer's performance, scan it immediately. A virus begins as a malicious program that requires a host computer or device to launch. It can embed its code onto the device. From there, it could turn into many variations. These viruses can get onto the system when you open a link or an email attachment that contains a malicious code, for example.

Many viruses will directly infect your system with malicious codes through different means. Dependent viruses need to be downloaded and installed through a host program. If the virus does require a host program, it won't become active until the program is launched. But if the virus is independent, it will not need a host program. This kind of virus can attack systems without using the resources of a host. The damages caused by these viruses can be significant; some estimates are in billions of dollars every year— $4.5 billion in households and 55 billions in workplaces and businesses . The global cost of malware infections and damages is estimated to reach $6 trillion by 2021. This whopping potential cost, as well as the mental and emotional repercussions on a personal level, are excellent reasons to stay away from any sites, links, attachments, videos, images, or files that could be infected with a computer virus.

Can Computer Virus Enter the System Through Trusted Sources?

Many viruses can get on the system when the computer user clicks on an unsafe link. But other viruses might enter the system from a legitimate download. They might even sneak onto the system without being detected when the user installs software that would otherwise be safe.

If the virus could attach itself to a piece of software during installation, it can get into the deepest levels of the computer and remain there undetected. By the time the damage is apparent, it could be too late to do anything about it.

Some programs target the user’s email account even if the malicious link or attachment will appear to be coming from a trusted source. Some programs can sneak onto the system and avoid detection even for experienced computer users with licensed software programs. This is why preventing infection is the best course of action. Monitor your behavior online, and avoid any potentially infected sites or links. Antivirus software can also help allow the computer owner to scan the system and detect any malicious programs.

What Are the Common Types of Computer Viruses

Computer viruses can compromise your system and all of the information on your hard drive. This is why it’s helpful to learn about the most common types of computer viruses; this information can help you identify the best course of action to take.

Know how to ensure your privacy and security even in a worst-case scenario by learning the behaviors of these viruses and identifying the likelihood of an infection. In this way, you’ll immediately notice early signs of infection through the performance of your device. The most common computer viruses include the following:

Trojan horse

This notorious program is also simply called a trojan . These viruses appear to have a benevolent or helpful function. However, they can inflict damage once it gains access to the system—like the infamous wooden horse from the Trojan War.

Web scripting virus

This is a very harmful kind of virus hidden in the coding of links, videos, advertisements, or code within a malicious website. If the user accesses an infected malicious website, the virus will enter the system and cause harm by breaching the web browser security.

File infector .exe

This kind of file can infect the computer when the file is launched. However, this virus can only run after the file is launched. Most file infector viruses only replicate and spread, taking up storage, but others damage host programs and licensed applications.

Computer worms

Computer worms can come from software vulnerabilities, malicious email attachments, or instant messages from social networking sites. These pernicious programs can replicate and infect entire networks of computers without the user’s permission or any human interaction. After replication, they can steal information, corrupt sensitive files, or change the computer system’s settings.

Malware is a generic computer term that refers to some kind of program that is malicious. As an umbrella term, computer viruses are then also considered malware. Common kinds of malware include spyware, adware, trojan horses, and computer worms . They can steal information, damage hardware and software technologies, or monitor users.

Spyware, one of the most dangerous types of malware, can observe user activities online or offline. It can monitor private activities, such as web browsing and online shopping. Hackers executing spyware may have the means to view your passwords, bank account information.

Detecting a Virus

Early detection is one of the vital defenses against a computer virus—after active prevention. A common sign of an infected computer is a slow operating system. Other signs might include programs launching without being prompted. Email spam can also be a sign of a virus that can generate unwanted and misleading emails in your inbox.

Installing and running an antivirus program can help you scan your computer, locate the virus, remove it, or place it into quarantine. You can execute a manual, regular, or deep scan, depending on the performance and behavior of your computer.

Tips for Avoiding Computer Viruses

Prevention is the best solution when it comes to any kind of virus. Practicing universal precautions won’t have you go through the complicated process of detecting, isolation, and eliminating the virus.

Universal precautions simply mean that you improve your security layers offline and online, so you can enjoy browsing the Internet without worries. It also means you adopt all of the best browsing behaviors necessary to keep your computer safe, such as protecting your passwords and financial details and avoiding suspicious-looking websites.

In terms of specific online behavior, it would mean adjusting your actions and behaviors when accessing websites, opening messages, and downloading applications. Some of them may look legitimate but actually carry malicious codes.

Observing the most basic precautions will prevent many infections. Get started with these list of tips to protect your computer and personal data against computer viruses:

Update your system regularly

Make sure to update your operating system, browser, and installed programs. Updates will often include additional safety features designed to protect your computer against the latest threats. Viruses can usually find an entry point from an out-of-date browser, operating system, or software application. Regularly check for software updates as much as you can or allow your device to automatically update software programs and systems.

Remain alert

Always assume the worst when it comes to links and attachments from unknown sources. Hackers and malware authors can use clickbait to lure unsuspecting internet users into clicking on a suspicious link. This action will download the virus onto the user's system.

Check the URL

The universal resource locator, or URL, is the web address at the top of each webpage. If you click on a suspicious link, this might present a suspicious URL. Legitimate URLs begin with “https” instead of just “http” as proof that they are encrypted and can protect sensitive information. When you access a website, always check the URL and the website privacy protocols.

Install and use security features

Many antivirus and anti-malware programs are designed to protect your computer from threats. However, it’s also important to get the right kind of protection for your system. Only trust software products with an established reputation, and always download applications directly from the main website of the company, brand, or product. If you don’t want to look too far, you might want to view the features offered by McAfee’s family of security products. You can start with McAfee’s Free Security Assessment or Total Protection to know the exact security product your computer needs.

Update your antivirus software

An antivirus software always knows what a computer virus is, so ensure that it’s always up-to-date. Updated versions improve the security features by patching any vulnerable security areas of your device and software programs. They can also handle the latest cyber threats and malware programs.

New viruses are constantly being created, so back your antivirus software with the universal precautions we’ve mentioned before. Prevention is still the best line of defense against computer viruses and other malware.

Computer Viruses

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November 8, 2017

“The most destructive thesis in history: I Love You, The Computer Virus”

computer virus thesis

Josemaria Soriano

Technology has become a fundamental part of our daily life. Nowadays, every modern process uses computers to perform their actions. Until the late 1980s, all college assignments were done either by hand, or by typewriter. Today, in the twenty-first century, everything is done on computers. In the last century, letters and telegrams were used to communicate written material over long distances. However, today just one click is enough to send a message to the other side of the world. Technology is ubiquitous; now all banks and online stores place absolute trust in the internet to make bank transfers of often astonishingly large monetary sums. However, it is not all a bed of roses for the internet. Just as every thesis has its antithesis, the internet world found its executioner in computer viruses. There are many unfortunate people who, because of computer viruses, end up losing everything, from their images and music, to valuable works, and even thesis projects. We all know about the existence of viruses, but very few of us really understand how they work, how they propagate through the web, and the magnitude of the effects of viruses on our devices and our lives.

computer virus thesis

Hated by all, the computer virus is the number one enemy of all who own a laptop, a computer, tablet, and even a smartphone. Its construction is simple but can be devastating. The virus is a piece of software based on various characteristics and with innumerable “themes.” In the same way as a biological virus, it attacks the host (in this case, the computer) and begins to infect many others to increase its reach. Basically, the virus is hidden in a program or document and is released when these files are executed. This plague of the electronic age emerged in the 1970s, initially only for programmers to demonstrate their skills. However, it ended up becoming a very lucrative criminal activity. Today, there are malware (malicious software) being spread by email or infected sites, and even by artificial intelligence, which simulates real conversations in chats to convince the victim to click on a contaminated link. 1

The malicious software can be of various types, of which two are the most common in the world of computer science. Perhaps the best known type of malware is the Trojan Horse , which is as treacherous as its namesake in Greek mythology. A Trojan typically disguises itself as a normal and benevolent application during its installation. The users who receive the Trojans are convinced to install them and execute them because they have received them from a trusted source. Once executed, a Trojan can cause severe damage, such as capture of bank passwords, credit card data, social network passwords, etc. Another common group of malware are worms , a particularly harmful subclass of viruses that are distinguished by their ability to spread without human action, using all communication capabilities available in a device to self-distribute. 2 Worms replicate themselves inside an infected device, creating thousands of copies of itself, in order to spread more quickly and prevent an antivirus from removing them before causing damage and contaminating other devices. Worms are also used to open ports on the infected user’s device, allowing a hacker total remote control of all available resources on the infected device. 3

A colossal number of viruses churn through the internet, but among all the stories that can be told about viruses, there is one that stands out among all the others: the virus “I Love You,” the one that took advantage of the innocence of a secret message of love that destroyed 45 million computers! The story behind the catastrophic message created by Onel de Guzman, will surprise many people, including you. Without further ado, the story of one of the most lethal thesis projects in history: I Love You. 4

computer virus thesis

On May 4, 2000 computer networks around the world were invaded by the virus that has until today  earned the title of fastest propagation invader. In a matter of hours, the “Love Bug,” as the virus became known, infected more than three million machines. It came with a message in which both the subject “I Love You” and the attachment “Love-Letter-For-You” appealed to the curiosity of the recipient. To further disarm the victim’s defenses, the e-mail came almost always in the name of a friend or acquaintance. 6 Although it had no destructive load, the love letter caused deep havoc by producing an unprecedented e-mail branch that congested servers around the world, causing billions of dollars of losses for companies around the world. According to the consulting company Computer Economics, the losses were around twelve million dollars. 7  Not even the “Code Red” and “Sircam” viruses, which in 2001 caused an injury of 3 million and 1.5 million dollars, respectively, overcame this virus that certainly entered into history as the most devastating of the global network of computers. 8

“The teachers did not like my work, they rejected my thesis. They said it was against the policy of the faculty and everything just because I used the word steal instead of access. It was a simple matter of vocabulary,” recalls the “Clyde Barrow” of computer hacking and author of one of the greatest computer disasters in history. 9

computer virus thesis

The truth is that his idea was brilliant, as well as perverse. If the virus “I love you” spread so quickly, it was because everyone liked the idea of ​​receiving an anonymous love letter. The famous love letter was the product of the disgust of a disgruntled student with his faculty, the revenge of Onel, because they rejected his thesis. Clerks, stockbrokers, politicians, firemen, or journalists, people here and there, opened the message of the supposed admirer or secret lover who began his letter proclaiming his love. Just by clicking it, the program created by Onel de Guzman began to work, that is, to eliminate. First, the virus infected the computer itself and destroyed the information on the hard disk. Then the virus forwarded the electronic message to all the addresses that the receiver had stored, in an unstoppable chain. Within twenty-four hours three million computers had been infected and within a week there were already more than 45 million computers unusable. 10 Probably the final number of victims of what some experts still qualify as the most virulent, devastating, and costly virus in history, will never be known. The teachers of the AMA School of Computer Science could not believe it when, three months after receiving the thesis of their model student, they realized that the virus that was going around the world worked exactly as Onel had explained in his dissertation. His thesis, which he called “The Trojan Horse,” still circulates on the Internet today and is the bible for many computer hackers, teachers, students, and curious people. 11

computer virus thesis

Onel de Guzman just needed one computer and an internet connection to be able to invade more than 45 million computers in just one week. 12 De Guzman’ virus was so powerful that it was even able to penetrate one of the most powerful cybernetic systems in the world, the Pentagon of the United States of America. Yes, it is no joke, a college student was able to infect four classified military systems of one of the safest and most sheltered facilities on the planet. 13  If the Philippine was able to crash one of the most powerful systems in the world, monitor financial accounts, steal personal information and messages, we must be ever vigilant before we casually click on any email attachment. 14 A computer virus, like a biological one, does not distinguish social condition, economic power, political position, or any other difference. They are there, waiting for a click, which will allow them to do what they do best: destroy everything in their way. Let’s be always alert.

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Onel de Guzman

Recent Comments

Cynthia Perez

Of course everyone hates viruses because of how detonating they are to our everyday technological devices or equipment. Also not to praise Onel de Guzman or whatever but what he created is truly astounding, something that could spread a simple message for people who were gullible enough to open it. It’s a fairly small and yet largely manipulative tactic used by a single person and it’s pretty ironic considering the message being “i love you”. Admittedly I myself would probably be fond of that message because of its randomness and quality of being curiosity inducing, which makes many people out there alike, targets and vulnerable to these attacks. It will remain a growing problem with unattainable solutions the further advanced technology gets.

Patricia Arechiga

This article was a reminder of how much time I spend on the internet and with that includes providing personal information via online shopping and such. I think it is crazy how much information we provide without truly noticing nor reminding ourselves of the dangers that come with it. I remember being young and seeing pop ups and quickly exiting out of the page due to fear. I think it is pretty incredible how Guzman was able to hack into some of the most protected cybernetic systems in the world. However, at the same time, it is nerve-racking to see the power one mind can sustain.

Vanessa Quetzeri

Viruses are really scary; I remember always being told not to click on pop-ups as a kid. It is crazy how one person could invade 45 million computers, some of these including the world’s most guarded computer systems. The message ‘I love you’ is clever because it doesn’t seem all that threatening, which increased it’s an appeal to the average internet surfer.

Alin Bocardo Felix

It is amazing how far Onel went to prove his thesis, and in a way, humorous. He created this terrible virus as a hypothetical originally but was driven to release it to the world. Although it was a ‘success’ in the sense that it worked just the way he planned, it was a tragedy for 45 million computers. The name given to the virus by Onel, The Trojan Horse, also contains a bit of humor, in the fact that it disguised itself and then released a multitude of issues at once.

Cristianna Tovar

Before reading this article, I had no idea that viruses were first used for programmers to demonstrate their skills. I also wasn’t aware of the different types of viruses and their names, such as Trojan and worms. I thought it was interesting that the “I Love You” virus had included the names of the victims’ friends because it made it easier for people to believe that they were actually receiving a love letter. I was shocked to learn that a simple click of the wrong link could cause such havoc and ruin the privacy of millions of people – in this case – 45 million people, including the systems at the Pentagon!

Elizabeth Santos

The pettiness of this frustrated student made for such an interesting occurrence and this fascinating article. It was such a smart move to have this anonymous love letter be sent from people the victims knew. Reading this article was another reminder of how scary technology can be, and how even more frightening its users can be. It’s also bizarre that even top security sites were affected by the virus.

Emilia Caballero Carmona

Hey Josemaria, your article was so interesting to read! I do not know anything about computer viruses and how they work, but we live in a technology filled world and it is important to learn this. Your article was great because for a person like me who doesn’t know much about this topic, you provided really good and detailed information and kept it simple and understandable which made sense to me.

Jacqueline King-Mackinnon

This is why many people have a fear of computers , they can destroy lives by making one silly mistake by opening a dodgy email.

Sideshow Bob

I was employed at a large State Gov’t agency in the US at this time. Ironically enough, in preparation for Y2K, we had all been upgraded from 386/486 processors with DOS operating systems (blue screen with “backslash” commands) with Word Perfect & Lotus 1-2-3, to brand new Pentium’s with Windows OS, Windows email, Word, Excel, Calendar, etc. So, in May 2000, for most non-tech Gov’t employees, email communication was a fairly new phenomenon. Even owning a home computer was not “everyday” yet, as they were still $1,000, & an “ISP” was $30/month plus long distance phone charges for 56k dial up service. Now I was an Engineer (albeit “brick & mortar” – ie Civil) & had owned a home PC for years, so was pretty familiar with using email & the threat of viruses. But most of the folks at my agency weren’t, being administrative, accounting, legal, etc. So when this virus first struck, our Inboxes were overwhelmed with “ILOVEYOU” messages from folks at our agency, some of whom we knew. “Helpdesk” sent a message pleading with us to NOT click on the file! But many didn’t see it as it was buried amongst all the ILOVEYOU spam, so folks kept opening it & sending even more messages. IT Finally had to shut down all email & asked Management to hold staff meetings informing employees NOT to click on the virus. They even provided a “slideshow” in (brand new at the time) PowerPoint. This would have been sufficient, or you’d have thunk, lol. IT “scrubbed” all the servers, reset all email, sent out multiple messages telling everyone NOT to click on the file. But, lo & behold, OF COURSE folks kept clicking away, re-infecting everyone all over again. IT went thru several iterations of this. In my Engineering unit we would sit & laugh at the names of the fellow employees who were Guilty of opening the file, even after weeks of this nonsense. They were all inevitable co-workers we considered to be total Twits in doing their jobs. We would exchange Stories about co workers that one of us knew but the others didn’t, citing examples of them doing their jobs Poorly / Fubaring things badly. It became a vast Social Experiment of sorts. “Let’s See How Stupid Some People Are” – “Oh They’re VERY Stupid, Indeed!”

James Clark

The entire article seems ridiculous especially considering the importance that we place on cyber security now. However, we are still learning and in the baby years of technology. It’s crazy to see how far we have progressed in technology in the short amount of time that computing has been around. The idea of a Trojan horse virus is extremely smart and forward thinking considering how early programming was and the power behind the languages at the time.

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What Are Computer Viruses?

Computer virus definition.

Chances are you’ve heard how important it is to keep viruses out, but what is a computer virus exactly? A computer virus is a type of malicious software, or malware, that spreads between computers and causes damage to data and software. 

Computer viruses aim to disrupt systems, cause major operational issues, and result in data loss and leakage. A key thing to know about computer viruses is that they are designed to spread across programs and systems. Computer viruses typically attach to an executable host file, which results in their viral codes executing when a file is opened. The code then spreads from the document or software it is attached to via networks, drives, file-sharing programs, or infected email attachments.

Common Signs of Computer Viruses

Chances are you’ve heard how important it is to keep viruses out, but what is a computer virus exactly? A computer virus will more than likely have an adverse effect on the device it resides on and may be discoverable through common signs of performance loss, including:

Speed of System

A computer system running slower than usual is one of the most common signs that the device has a virus. This includes the system itself running slowly, as well as applications and internet speed suffering. If a computer does not have powerful applications or programs installed and is running slowly, then it may be a sign it is infected with a virus.

Pop-up Windows

Unwanted pop-up windows appearing on a computer or in a web browser are a telltale sign of a computer virus. Unwanted pop-ups are a sign of malware, viruses, or  spyware  affecting a device.

Programs Self-executing

If computer programs unexpectedly close by themselves, then it is highly likely that the software has been infected with some form of virus or malware. Another indicator of a virus is when applications fail to load when selected from the Start menu or their desktop icon. Every time that happens, your next step should be to perform a virus scan and remove any files on programs that might not be safe to use.

Accounts Being Logged Out

Some viruses are designed to affect specific applications, which will either cause them to crash or force the user to automatically log out of the service.

Crashing of the Device

System crashes and the computer itself unexpectedly closing down are common indicators of a virus. Computer viruses cause computers to act in a variety of strange ways, which may include opening files by themselves, displaying unusual error messages, or clicking keys at random.

Mass Emails Being Sent from Your Email Account

Computer viruses are commonly spread via email. Hackers can use other people's email accounts to spread malware and carry out wider cyberattacks. Therefore, if an email account has sent emails in the outbox that a user did not send, then this could be a sign of a computer virus.

Changes to Your Homepage

Any unexpected changes to a computer—such as your system’s homepage being amended or any browser settings being updated—are signs that a computer virus may be present on the device.

How Do Computer Viruses Attack and Spread?

In the early days of computers, viruses were spread between devices using floppy disks. Nowadays, viruses can still be spread via hard disks and Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices, but they are more likely to be passed between devices through the internet. 

Computer viruses can be spread via email, with some even capable of hijacking email software to spread themselves. Others may attach to legitimate software, within software packs, or infect code, and other viruses can be downloaded from compromised application stores and infected code repositories. A key feature of any computer virus is it requires a victim to execute its code or payload, which means the host application should be running.

Types of Computer Viruses

There are several types of computer viruses that can infect devices. This section will cover computer virus protections and how to get rid of computer viruses.

Resident Virus

Viruses propagate themselves by infecting applications on a host computer. A resident virus achieves this by infecting applications as they are opened by a user. A non-resident virus is capable of infecting executable files when programs are not running.

Multipartite Virus

A multipartite virus uses multiple methods to infect and spread across computers. It will typically remain in the computer’s memory to infect the hard disk, then spread through and infect more drives by altering the content of applications. This results in performance lag and application memory running low. 

Multipartite viruses can be avoided by not opening attachments from untrusted sources and by installing trusted antivirus software. It can also be prevented by cleaning the boot sector and the computer’s entire disk.

Direct Action

A direct action virus accesses a computer’s main memory and infects all programs, files, and folders located in the autoexec.bat path, before deleting itself. This virus typically alters the performance of a system but is capable of destroying all data on the computer’s hard disk and any USB device attached to it. Direct action viruses can be avoided through the use of antivirus scanners. They are easy to detect, as is restoring infected files.

Browser Hijacker

A browser hijacker manually changes the settings of web browsers, such as replacing the homepage, editing the new tab page, and changing the default search engine. Technically, it is not a virus because it cannot infect files but can be hugely damaging to computer users, who often will not  be able to restore their homepage or search engine. It can also contain adware that causes unwanted pop-ups and advertisements.

Browser hijackers typically attach to free software and malicious applications from unverified websites or app stores, so only use trusted software and reliable antivirus software.

Overwrite Virus

Overwrite viruses are extremely dangerous. They can delete data and replace it with their own file content or code. Once files get infected, they cannot be replaced, and the virus can affect Windows, DOS, Linux, and Apple systems. The only way this virus can be removed is by deleting all of the files it has infected, which could be devastating. The best way to protect against the overwrite virus is to use a trusted antivirus solution and keep it updated.

Web Scripting Virus

A web scripting virus attacks web browser security, enabling a hacker to inject web-pages with malicious code, or client-side scripting. This allows cyber criminals to attack major websites, such as social networking sites, email providers, and any site that enables user input or reviews. Attackers can use the virus to send spam, commit fraudulent activity, and damage server files.

Protecting against web scripting is reliant on deploying real-time web browser protection software, using cookie security, disabling scripts, and using malicious software removal tools.

File Infector

A file infector is one of the most common computer viruses. It overwrites files when they are opened and can quickly spread across systems and networks. It largely affects files with .exe or .com extensions. The best way to avoid file infector viruses is to only download official software and deploy an antivirus solution.

Network Virus

Network viruses are extremely dangerous because they can completely cripple entire computer networks. They are often difficult to discover, as the virus could be hidden within any computer on an infected network. These viruses can easily replicate and spread by using the internet to transfer to devices connected to the network. Trusted, robust antivirus solutions and advanced firewalls are crucial to protecting against network viruses.

Boot Sector Virus

A boot sector virus targets a computer’s master boot record (MBR). The virus injects its code into a hard disk’s partition table, then moves into the main memory when a computer restarts. The presence of the virus is signified by boot-up problems, poor system performance, and the hard disk becoming unable to locate. Most modern computers come with boot sector safeguards that restrict the potential of this type of virus. 

Steps to protecting against a boot sector virus include ensuring disks are write-protected and not starting up a computer with untrusted external drives connected.

Know More About Computer Viruses Through Examples

There are common examples of what computer and internet users believe to be viruses, but are technically incorrect.

Is Trojan a Virus?

A Trojan horse is a type of program that pretends to be something it is not to get onto a device and infect it with malware. Therefore, a  Trojan horse virus  is a virus disguised to look like something it is not. For example, viruses can be hidden within unofficial games, applications, file-sharing sites, and bootlegged movies.

Is a Worm a Virus?

A computer worm is not a virus. Worms do not need a host system and can spread between systems and networks without user action, whereas a virus requires users to execute its code.

Is Ransomware a Virus?

Ransomware is when attackers lock victims out of their system or files and demand a ransom to unlock access. Viruses can be used to carry out ransomware attacks.

Is Rootkit a Virus?

A rootkit is not a virus. Rootkits are software packages that give attackers access to systems. They cannot self-replicate or spread across systems. 

Is a Software Bug a Virus?

"Bug" is a common word used to describe problems with computers, but a software bug is not a virus. A bug is a flaw or mistake in software code, which hackers can exploit to launch a cyberattack or spread  malware .

How To Prevent Your Computer From Viruses

There are several ways to protect your computer from viruses, including:

Use a Trusted Antivirus Product

Trusted computer antivirus products are crucial to  stop malware attacks  and prevent computers from being infected with viruses. These  antivirus concepts  will protect devices from being infected through regular scans and identifying and blocking malware.

Avoid Clicking Pop-up Advertisements

Unwanted pop-up advertisements are more than likely to be linked to computer viruses and malware. Never click on pop-up advertisements because this can lead to inadvertently downloading viruses onto a computer.

Scan Your Email Attachments

A popular way to protect your device from computer viruses is to avoid suspicious email attachments, which are commonly used to spread malware. Computer antivirus solutions can be used to scan email attachments for potential viruses.

Scan the Files That You Download Using File-sharing Programs

File-sharing programs, particularly unofficial sites, are also popular resources for attackers to spread computer viruses. Avoid downloading applications, games, or software from unofficial sites, and always scan files that have been downloaded from any file-sharing program.

How Fortinet Can Help

The Fortinet  antivirus solution  protects organizations from the latest strands of virus, spyware, and other security threats. Its advanced detection engines help users avoid downloading the latest and evolving threats, and prevents viruses from gaining a foothold inside organizations’ networks. The antivirus solution also reduces the threat of data breaches, protects against evolving malware variants, and keeps businesses up to date with regular updates. 

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Introduction, section snippets, references (19), cited by (101), recommended articles (6).


Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation

Modeling and analysis of the spread of computer virus.

Based on a set of reasonable assumptions, we propose a novel dynamical model describing the spread of computer virus. Through qualitative analysis, we give a threshold and prove that (1) the infection-free equilibrium is globally asymptotically stable if the threshold is less than one, implying that the virus would eventually die out, and (2) the infection equilibrium is globally asymptotically stable if the threshold is greater than one. Two numerical examples are presented to demonstrate the analytical results.

► A novel model for the spread of computer virus in the networks is proposed. ► The effect of removable devices on the transmission of computer virus is considered. ► The global stabilities of two equilibria are analyzed, respectively. ► The Lyapunov function and the geometric approach are used to investigate the global stability.

A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect other computers [3]. It is called virus because it shares some traits of biological virus. It can pass from one computer to others like the spread of biological virus between persons. A properly engineered virus can have a devastating effect, disrupting productivity and doing billions of dollars in damages. Say, the MyDoom virus causes over 26.1 billion dollars in 2004, according to the British security firm mi2g. In this scenario, more and more individuals and organizations are troubled by computer virus.

Over decades of work on the computer virus problem has resulted in a number of useful scientific and technological achievements. Many researches on the computer virus concept, such as the creation of new viruses, enhanced worms, and new vectors, or the development of new techniques for detection and containment, are extended to help us understand how computer viruses work. But since Kephart and White [6], [7] took the first step towards modeling the spread behavior of computer virus, much effort has been done also in the area of developing a mathematical model for the computer virus propagation [2], [5], [11], [13], [14], [15], [16], [18], [19]. Billings et al. [2] derived a discrete Markov model and a differential equation model of the computer virus spread. Piqueira proposed an SIRA computer virus spread model in [14] and studied its mathematical properties such as stability and bifurcation conditions in [13]. Han and Tan [5] studied the dynamical spread behavior of computer virus on Internet by incorporating the delay factor. In [15], [16], Ren et al. investigated more complex dynamics (e.g., backward bifurcation, Hopf bifurcation) of two computer virus spread models. These researches provide a reasonable qualitative understanding of the conditions under which viruses spread and why some viruses spread better than others.

We noticed that the above-mentioned work ignores the fact that viruses can infect not only the computers but also many kinds of external removable media (USB drives, external hard drives, mobile phones, etc.). Actually, those external removable devices have become the main means of infection transmission as well as networks. Therefore, it is important to study the dynamics of interaction infection between computers and removable devices. Motivated by this, we propose a novel dynamical model based on above facts. And both the local and global stabilities of this model are analyzed.

The rest of this work is organized as follows: the next section deals with the mathematical framework (notations, assumptions and model formulation). In Section 3, local stabilities of the infection-free equilibrium and positive equilibrium are analyzed, respectively, while Section 4 deals with the global stabilities of the two equilibria. Then two numerical examples are given in Section 5. The last section is a brief summary of this paper.

Mathematical framework

The system of equations describing the dynamics of computer virus spread is derived from the interaction among the computers and removable devices (see Fig. 1). According to our model, all networked computers are partitioned into three compartments: susceptible ( S ), infective ( I ) and recovered ( R ), whereas all removable devices are divided into two groups: susceptible ( R S ) and infective ( R I ) devices. The following notations and assumptions will be adopted in the sequel.

Local stability

Theorem 3.1

E 0 is locally asymptotically stable if R 0 < 1 . Whereas E 0 is unstable if R 0 > 1 .

By linearizing system (2.2) at E 0 , we get the characteristic equation: det λ - β 1 ( N ∗ - R - 2 I ) + β 2 R I R N ∗ β 1 I + β 2 R I R N ∗ - β 2 ( N - R - I ) R N ∗ - σ 1 λ + μ 1 0 - β 2 R N ∗ N ∗ σ 2 R I N ∗ λ + μ 2 + σ 2 R + β 2 I N = 0 . Thus, ( λ + μ 1 ) ( λ + μ 1 + σ 1 - β 1 N ∗ ) ( λ + μ 2 ) - β 2 2 = 0 .

On one hand, all roots of Eq. (3.1) have negative real parts and, hence, E 0 is locally asymptotically stable, if R 0 < 1 . On the other hand, Eq. (3.1)

Global stability

Theorem 4.1

E 0 is globally asymptotically stable with respect to Ω if R 0 < 1 .

Define a Lyapunov function as V = I + β 1 2 σ 1 R 2 + β 2 N ∗ μ 2 R N ∗ R I . Then, V ˙ = β 1 ( N ∗ - I ) I - β 2 ( R + I ) R I R N ∗ - ( σ 1 + μ 1 ) I - β 1 μ 1 R 2 σ 1 + β 2 2 μ 2 I - β 2 2 IR I μ 2 R N ∗ - β 2 σ 2 RR I μ 2 R N ∗ = β 1 N ∗ - σ 1 - μ 1 + β 2 2 μ 2 I - β 1 I 2 - β 2 ( R + I ) R I R N ∗ - β 1 μ 1 R 2 σ 1 - β 2 2 IR I μ 2 R N ∗ - β 2 σ 2 RR I μ 2 R N ∗ = ( R 0 - 1 ) ( σ 1 + μ 1 ) I - β 1 I 2 - β 2 ( R + I ) R I R N ∗ - β 1 μ 1 R 2 σ 1 - β 2 2 IR I μ 2 R N ∗ - β 2 σ 2 RR I μ 2 R N ∗ . Hence, R 0 < 1 implies V ˙ ⩾ 0 within Ω . Note that { E 0 } is the only invariant

Two numerical examples

In this section, we present two numerical examples to substantiate our analytical results of system (2.1) with the aid of Matlab. For clarity, we shall assume that the limiting number of susceptible removable devices is normalized as unity ( R N ∗ = 1 ) , and the limiting number of susceptible computers is normalized as ten. Consider system (2.1) with λ 1 = 1 , λ 2 = 0.1 , β 1 = β 2 = 0.01 , σ 1 = 0.02 , σ 2 = 0.005 , and μ 1 = μ 2 = 0.1 , we have R 0 ≈ 0.8417 < 1 . Provided that the initial conditions are S ( 0 ) = 0 , I ( 0 ) = 4 , R ( 0 ) = 3 , R S ( 0 ) = 0.1 and

Considering the interaction between computers and external removable devices, a dynamical model for the spread of computer virus has been proposed and analyzed. The main contributions achieved include (1) the infection-free equilibrium is globally asymptotically stable if R 0 < 1 , and (2) the positive equilibrium is globally asymptotically stable if R 0 > 1 . Therefore, one effective means to extinguish virus is to keep R 0 below 1.

Although the realistic interaction pattern between computers and


The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading and valuable suggestions. This work is supported by Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 10771227 ), Doctorate Foundation of Educational Ministry of China (Grant No. 20110191110022 ), and Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities (Grant No. CDJXS10181130 ).

Network virus-epidemic model with the point-to-group information propagation

Appl math comput, modeling computer virus prevalence with a susceptible-infected-susceptible model with reintroduction, comput stat data an, a novel computer virus model and its dynamics, nonlinear anal-real, a delayed computer virus propagation model and its dynamics, chaos soliton fract, dynamic models for computer viruses, comput secur, a modified epidemiological model for computer viruses, dynamic model of worms with vertical transmission in computer network, fixed period of temporary immunity after run of anti-malicious software on computer nodes, logarithmic norms and projections applied to linear differential systems, j math anal appl, stability analysis and optimal control of worm propagation model with saturated incidence rate.

Worms spreading through Web-based scanning and removable devices pose a serious threat to Internet security. This paper is devoted to solving the problems of computer worms. A nonlinear mathematical model of the problem is established, and the characteristics and mechanisms of worm propagation are analyzed by means of the stability theory of differential equations, optimal control and computer simulation. The results provide some new insights to computer security, which is to predict the tendency of worm propagation through the stability of endemic equilibrium, identify the epidemic control strategies by the stability of disease-free equilibrium, and evaluate the prevalence of worms based on the final scale of infected devices. The performance of our model is evaluated by numerical simulation, and the results indicate that our combined strategy can combat the worm propagation. The results may be helpful to inhibit the worm spread widely in the network.

HOPF- bifurcation analysis of delayed computer virus model with holling type iii incidence function and treatment

Computer viruses have become a threatening challenge to most network users. Due to enormous operational constraints, distortions, and alterations caused by malware spread, research on network security is deemed essential. These malicious codes are sufficiently equipped to distribute themselves over the whole system. Consequently, infected hosts can rapidly pollute adjoining nodes. In the past, many research efforts have derived analytical models for computer viruses under several scenarios of infectiousness. Therefore, we considered the Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered-Vaccinated (SVEIR) model with Holling Type III incidence function and treatment. This is to address the ubiquitous application of the bilinear contagion rate. Here, the delay parameter was chosen and, through numerous analyses, we demonstrated the presence of a Hopf bifurcation as it crosses a critical value. Furthermore, we examined the attributes of the Hopf bifurcation by employing the centre manifold theorem and the normal form theory. Then, we performed numerical simulation experiments for different conditions in order to underpin the derived theoretical conclusions.

Deterministic and fractional modeling of a computer virus propagation

The dynamic behaviors of computer virus models are investigated. In the first phase, we discussed the deterministic version of the proposed model by taking into consideration the local and global stability. For global stability the Castillo-Chavez approach is taken into account. The deterministic version is numerically solved by the Runge–Kutta scheme. The model is then fractionalized by using the Atangana–Baleanu–Caputo operator. Existence uniqueness and Hyers–Ulam stability of the fractionalized model is established. The Atangana–Toufik method is used for the numerical examination of a fractional version of the proposed model.

Stability analysis of a virulent code in a network of computers

Network of computers are vulnerable to attack by virulent codes which can halt an organization’s activities and in the process resulting in loss of revenue. The need to understand their dynamics if utmost importance and hence there is a need to develop mathematical models. These models will help us understand the impact these virulent codes have on the network of computers. In this article, we develop and solve numerically a mathematical model which can be used to understand the dynamics of a virulent code in a network of computers. This model is called the Immune, susceptible, exposed, infectious, quarantine, and recovered (MSEIQR). The model is solved using a very robust spectral method called the piecewise pseudospectral relaxation method (PPRM). PPRM accuracy is validated by comparing the results with the standard Runge–Kutta method. Stability analysis is also performed on the modified MSEIQR model for malicious code. Results generated are in agreement with the stability analysis performed. Results showing effect of crucial parameters in the dynamics of the model are presented in graphical form.

A mathematical model for malware spread on WSNs with population dynamics

The aim of this work is to describe and analyze a new theoretical model to simulate the spread of malicious code on wireless sensor networks. Specifically, this is a SCIRS model such that population dynamics, and vaccination and reinfection processes are considered. The local and global stability of the equilibrium points are studied and the most important security countermeasures are explicitly shown by means of the analysis of the epidemic threshold.

Mathematical analysis of the effectiveness of control strategies to prevent the autorun virus transmission propagation

Other users with not enough knowledge just found the malicious program and delete that program and understood that system is protected but it's just for time being these systems are still in circle till an updated anti-virus software's are not installed. That perfect recover rate and vaccination rate in newly recruited devices are more power full tool instead of normal recovery as used in literature [35]. In a normal recover, user just install anti-virus software those are not up to date and just found the virus and delete that virus and understood their system is out of danger.

In this work, a deterministic model for autorun computer virus propagation is presented and discussed. Two new control parameters; vaccination rate and perfect recovery rate are introduced to validate the existence of computer virus infection via external devices likewise USBs. The model is comprehensively analyzed with and without control parameter for verification of proposed model and strategy. The recovery population of the infected computers has been divided into perfectly recovered with probability ‘ p ’ and partially recovered with probability ‘1 −  p ’. The results show that as vaccination rate is increased reproductive number and number of infected computers decreased. Since reproductive number does not depend upon p , change in the value of p does not affect the basic reproductive number. However, as value of p is increased, a reduction in steady state of infected computer is observed. Local and global stability analysis of virus-free equilibrium has been investigated through basic reproductive number. The endemic equilibrium has also been determined under certain conditions.

We introduce two control functions which are defined to present successful effort of repairing computers and fixing USBs and propose an optimal control problem with two control functions. The solution to the proposed problem is derived through forward-backward method. The necessary conditions for optimal control have been developed using the Pontryagin's Maximum Principle. Different combination of computer and USBs numbers have been utilized for effective simulation results and comprehensive analysis.

Dynamic model of worm propagation in computer network

In this paper, an attempt has been made to mathematically formulate a compartmental susceptible – exposed – infectious – susceptible with vaccination (that is, anti-virus treatment) (SEIS-V) epidemic transmission model of worms in a computer network with natural death rate (which depends on the total number of nodes). The stability of the result is stated in terms of modified reproductive number R v . We have derived an explicit formula for the modified reproductive number R v , and have shown that the worm-free equilibrium, whose component of infective is zero, is globally asymptotically stable if R v   <   1, and unstable if R v   >   1. The contribution of vertical transmission to the modified reproductive number is also analyzed. Numerical methods are employed to solve and simulate the system of equations developed and interpretation of the model yields interesting revelations. Analysis of efficient antivirus software is also performed.

A new epidemic model of computer viruses

This paper addresses the epidemiological modeling of computer viruses. By incorporating the effect of removable storage media, considering the possibility of connecting infected computers to the Internet, and removing the conservative restriction on the total number of computers connected to the Internet, a new epidemic model is proposed. Unlike most previous models, the proposed model has no virus-free equilibrium and has a unique endemic equilibrium. With the aid of the theory of asymptotically autonomous systems as well as the generalized Poincare–Bendixson theorem, the endemic equilibrium is shown to be globally asymptotically stable. By analyzing the influence of different system parameters on the steady number of infected computers, a collection of policies is recommended to prohibit the virus prevalence.

An epidemic model of computer viruses with vaccination and generalized nonlinear incidence rate

This paper aims to explore the influence of vaccination on the diffusion of computer viruses under more reasonable assumptions. By incorporating a vaccination probability in the SIRS model with generalized nonlinear incidence rate, a novel epidemic model of computer viruses is established. A thorough analysis of this model shows that, depending on the value of the basic reproduction number, either the virus-free equilibrium or the endemic equilibrium is globally asymptotically stable. Simulation results not only justify the proposed model, but also demonstrate the effectiveness of vaccination. Based on a parameter analysis for the model, some effective strategies for inhibiting the virus prevalence are posed.

The stochastic SIRA model for computer viruses

The aim of this paper is to describe the SIRA (Susceptible-Infected-Removed-Antidotal) stochastic epidemic model for computer viruses and to study some important descriptors, in order to understand the mechanism that underlies the spread of computer viruses and then, to control the virus propagation. To this end, a continuous time Markov chain is considered and a detailed analysis of the quasi-stationary distribution, the extinction time and the number of infections is performed. Some numerical results are presented in order to illustrate our analysis.

Optimal control of a delayed SLBS computer virus model

In this paper, a delayed SLBS computer virus model is firstly proposed. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time to discuss the optimal control of the SLBS model. By using the optimal control strategy, we present an optimal strategy to minimize the total number of the breakingout computers and the cost associated with toxication or detoxication. We show that an optimal control solution exists for the control problem. Some examples are presented to show the efficiency of this optimal control.

A mathematical model for a distributed attack on targeted resources in a computer network

A mathematical model has been developed to analyze the spread of a distributed attack on critical targeted resources in a network. The model provides an epidemic framework with two sub-frameworks to consider the difference between the overall behavior of the attacking hosts and the targeted resources. The analysis focuses on obtaining threshold conditions that determine the success or failure of such attacks. Considering the criticality of the systems involved and the strength of the defence mechanism involved, a measure has been suggested that highlights the level of success that has been achieved by the attacker. To understand the overall dynamics of the system in the long run, its equilibrium points have been obtained and their stability has been analyzed, and conditions for their stability have been outlined.

Fred Cohen and the first Computer Virus

Hex dump of the Blaster worm, showing a message left for Microsoft CEO Bill Gates by the worm’s programmer

On November 10, 1983, U.S. student Fred Cohen at the University of Southern California ‘s School of Engineering presented to a security seminar the results of his test , a program for a parasitic application that seized control of computer operations, one of the first computer viruses , created as an experiment in computer security .

John von Neumann – the “Father of Computer Virology”

But, the history of computer viruses dates back even further. The first academic work on the theory of self-replicating computer programs was performed in 1949 by John von Neumann  who gave lectures at the University of Illinois about the “ Theory and Organization of Complicated Automata “.[ 1 ] Von Neumann founded the field of cellular automata  and did first experiments on self replicating automatons with pencil and paper. Later his work was published as the “ Theory of self-reproducing automata “, where described how a computer program could be designed to reproduce itself. Von Neumann’s design for a self-reproducing computer program is considered the world’s first computer virus, and he is considered to be the theoretical father of computer virology .

Self-Reproducing Automata

Already in 1972, the Austrian computer scientist Veith Risak, directly building on von Neumann’s work on self-replication, published his article “ Selbstreproduzierende Automaten mit minimaler Informationsübertragung ” (Self-reproducing automata with minimal information exchange), in which he described a fully functional virus written in assembler language for a SIEMENS 4004/35 computer system. In 1980 Jürgen Kraus wrote his diplom thesis “ Selbstreproduktion bei Programmen ” ( Self-reproduction of programs ) at the University of Dortmund , in which he postulated that computer programs can behave in a way similar to biological viruses [2].

The Creeper

Also already in the ARPANET , the forerunner of today’s internet, there was a virus called Creeper . The Creeper virus was first detected on ARPANET in the early 1970s. It was an experimental self-replicating program written by Bob Thomas at BBN Technologies in 1971, which used the ARPANET to infect DEC PDP-10 computers running. Creeper gained access via the ARPANET and copied itself to the remote system where the message, “ I’m the creeper, catch me if you can! ” was displayed. The Reaper program was created to delete Creeper. In 1975, British author John Brunner published the novel The Shockwave Rider ,[5] in which he foresaw the danger of Internet viruses. Also  the idea of swarm intelligence is outlined in his story. The 1973 Michael Crichton sci-fi movie Westworld made an early mention of the concept of a computer virus, being a central plot theme that causes androids to run amok. In 1979, his colleague Thomas J. Ryan described in The Adolescence of P-1 how an artificial intelligence spreads virus-like across the national computer network.

The Birth of the “Computer Virus”

Then, in 1983, Fred Cohen, a student at the University of Southern California ‘s School of Engineering, wrote a program for a parasitic application that seized control of computer operations in Leonard Adleman’s  class – Adleman was one of the co-inventors of the RSA  encryption. Cohen wrote a short program, as an experiment, that could “infect” computers, make copies of itself, and spread from one machine to another. It was hidden inside a larger, legitimate program, which was loaded into a computer on a floppy disk. In 1984, Fred Cohen wrote his paper “ Computer Viruses – Theory and Experiments ” [3]. It was the first paper to explicitly call a self-reproducing program a “virus”, a term introduced by Cohen’s mentor Leonard Adleman. In 1987, Fred Cohen published a demonstration that there is no algorithm that can perfectly detect all possible viruses. Fred Cohen’s theoretical compression virus was an example of a virus which was not malware , but was putatively benevolent. However, antivirus professionals do not accept the concept of benevolent viruses, as any desired function can be implemented without involving a virus. Any virus will by definition make unauthorized changes to a computer, which is undesirable even if no damage is done or intended.

Tequila Virus (1991, x86 MSDOS)

And the Virus became a Worm

Before computer networks became widespread, most viruses spread on removable media, particularly floppy disks. In the early days of the personal computer, many users regularly exchanged information and programs on floppies. Some viruses spread by infecting programs stored on these disks, while others installed themselves into the disk boot sector, ensuring that they would be run when the user booted the computer from the disk, usually inadvertently. Of course this should change with the advent of the internet. Then, the computer virus became a computer worm . A computer worm is a standalone malware self replicating computer program that is supposed to spread to other computers via a computer network. A computer worm relies on security failures on the target computer to access it. Unlike a computer virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network, even if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.

References and Further Reading:

Harald Sack

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7 Types of Computer Viruses to Watch Out For and What They Do

Many types of computer viruses can steal or destroy your data. Here are some of the most common viruses and what they do.

The types of computer virus, or malware, are many. Some aren't dangerous. But some can be truly deadly to your security and bank account. Here are seven types of computer virus you should watch out for.

1. Boot Sector Virus

From a user perspective, boot sector viruses are some of the most dangerous. Because they infect the master boot record, they are notoriously difficult to remove, often requiring a full system format. This is especially true if the virus has encrypted the boot sector or excessively damaged the code.

They typically spread via removable media. They reached a peak in the 1990s when floppy disks were the norm, but you can still find them on USB drives and in email attachments. Luckily, improvements in BIOS architecture have reduced their prevalence in the last few years.

2. Direct Action Virus

A direct action virus is one of the two main types of file infector viruses (the other being a resident virus). The virus is considered "non-resident"; it doesn't install itself or remain hidden in your computer's memory.

It works by attaching itself to a particular type of file (typically EXE or COM files). When someone executes the file, it springs into life, looking for other similar files in the directory for it to spread to.

On a positive note, the virus does not typically delete files nor hinder your system's performance. Aside from some files becoming inaccessible, it has a minimal impact on a user and can be easily removed with an anti-virus program.

3. Resident Virus

Resident viruses are the other primary type of file infectors. Unlike direct action viruses, they install themselves on a computer. It allows them to work even when the original source of the infection has been eradicated. As such, experts consider them to be more dangerous than their direct action cousin.

Depending on the programming of the virus, they can be tricky to spot and even trickier to remove. You can split resident viruses into two areas; fast infectors and slow infectors. Fast infectors cause as much damage as quickly as possible and are thus easier to spot; slow infectors are harder to recognize because their symptoms develop slowly.

In a worst-case scenario, they can even attach themselves to your anti-virus software, infecting every file the software scans. You often need a unique tool---such as an operating system patch---for their total removal. An anti-malware app will not be enough to protect you .

4. Multipartite Virus

While some viruses are happy to spread via one method or deliver a single payload, multipartite viruses want it all. A virus of this type may spread in multiple ways, and it may take different actions on an infected computer depending on variables, such as the operating system installed or the existence of certain files.

They can simultaneously infect both the boot sector and executable files, allowing them to act quickly and spread rapidly.

The two-pronged attack makes them tough to remove. Even if you clean a machine's program files, if the virus remains in the boot sector, it will immediately reproduce once you turn on the computer again.

5. Polymorphic Virus

According to Symantec, polymorphic viruses are one of the most difficult to detect/remove for an anti-virus program . It claims anti-virus firms need to "spend days or months creating the detection routines needed to catch a single polymorphic".

But why are they so hard to protect against? The clue is in the name. Anti-virus software can only blacklist one variant of a virus---but a polymorphic virus changes its signature (binary pattern) every time it replicates. To an anti-virus program, it looks like an entirely different piece of software, and can, therefore, elude the blacklist.

6. Overwrite Virus

To an end-user, an overwrite virus is one of the most frustrating, even if it's not particularly dangerous for your system as a whole.

That's because it will delete the contents of any file which it infects; the only way to remove the virus is to delete the file, and consequently, lose its contents. It can infect both standalone files and entire pieces of software.

Overwrite viruses typically have low visibility and are spread via email, making them hard to identify for an average PC user. They enjoyed a heyday in the early 2000s with Windows 2000 and Windows NT, but you can still find them in the wild.

7. Spacefiller Virus

Also known as "Cavity Viruses", spacefiller viruses are more intelligent than most of their counterparts. A typical modus operandi for a virus is to simply attach itself to a file, but spacefillers try to get into the empty space which can sometimes be found within the file itself.

This method allows it to infect a program without damaging the code or increasing its size, thus enabling it to bypass the need for the stealthy anti-detection techniques other viruses rely on.

Luckily, this type of virus is relatively rare, though the growth of Windows Portable Executable files is giving them a new lease of life.

Most Types of Computer Viruses Are Easily Avoided

As always, taking sensible steps to protect yourself is preferable to dealing with the potentially crippling fallout if you're unlucky enough to get infected.

For starters, you need to use a highly-regarded antivirus suite . (In a pinch, even free online virus scanner and removal tools will do.) Also, don't open emails from unrecognized sources, don't trust free USB sticks from conferences and expos, don't let strangers use your system, and don't install software from random websites. And ensure that your keyboard isn't betraying you .

To stay prepared for the worst, get one of these free bootable antivirus disks  and learn  how to rescue your data from an infected computer .

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Sep 18, 2020

What is Computer Virus ?

A computer virus is a type of computer program which contains malicious executable statements that are self -reproducing in nature. It is a harmful activity which infects the host computer by deleting some files, acquisition of hard disk space or CPU time, stealing/corrupting personal data, target one path/file and corrupting it etc.

A computer virus was coined by Fred Cohen in 1984 . But this name is given for its nature (self -replicating the program that infect the host computer or corrupt the software without user consent which is similar to biological virus).

Self -replicating means making an exact copy of itself by its own power.

History of Computer Virus

In 1949 , John Von Neumann published a theory called “ Theory of self-reproducing automata ” which tells how a computer program can be designed to reproduce itself. Due to this he is considered as the father of computer virology.

In 1972, Veith Risak published an article “ Self-reproducing automata with minimal information exchange ” which describes the fully functional virus in assembler language for a SIEMENS 4004/35 computer system.

In 1980, Jürgen Kraus wrote a thesis “ Self- reproduction of programs” at the University of Dortmund and this thesis postulated that computer program behaves like biological viruses.

In 1981, Richard Skrenta, a ninth grader at Mount Lebanon High School wrote a computer virus that attached itself to Apple DOS 3.3 OS and spreads via floppy disk. On its 50th use the virus gets activated, infecting the personal computer and displaying “Elk Cloner: The program with a personality.”

In 1984, Fred Cohen wrote “ Computer Viruses- Theory and Experiments ” which was the first paper to call self-reproducing program as a virus and this term introduced by his mentor called Leonard Adleman.

Leonard Adleman — one of the creator of the RSA encryption algorithm, for which he received the 2002 Turing Award (called the Nobel prize in Computer science).

Known Computer Virus : (Some only listed)

In 1987, Jerusalem virus. This virus executed on DOS which uses 2 kb of memory and infected executable files. On Friday 13,this virus deleted all executed files.

In 1999, Melissa virus released by David L. Smith . This virus targets Microsoft Word and Outlook which infects through E-mail. Sending mass mail by itself to the first 50 people in the user’s contact list and then disable multiple safeguard features on Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook.

In 2003, SQL Slammer. This virus attacked Microsoft SQL Server by buffer overflow ( overruns the buffer’s boundary and overwrites the adjacent memory location ). It generates random IP addresses to infect others. It spread rapidly, infecting most of its 75,000 victims within ten minutes.

Virus code snippets for fun (EDUCATION BASED ONLY)

Make A Virus To Open Notepad Repeatedly

START %SystemRoot%\system32\notepad.exe

Virus To Make Multiple Folders

start folder1

start folder2

start folder3

Checklists to avoid virus attack :

Which operating system are you using?

Update your system software to patch critical security holes and removing outdated features.

What kind of communication you are doing on the internet?

Avoid public network connection for internet.

How is your computer connected to the Internet?

Think before opening any attachments or downloadable file.

Do you have any internet filters?

Enable firewall and anti-virus before entering into the internet.

How I become a victim to the virus attacks?

If i’m a person who

Prefer to access wireless hot-spots in cafe shop, airport and other public places.

Download any attachments or open any link without reading the url carefully., shares e-mail id’s with many people by filling forms., share pendrives with others for sharing resources., disables firewall or anti-virus when downloading files from torrent..

Think before you Click. Happy Learning!

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