Computer Crime

.. ses spread from program to program and computer to computer, much as biological viruses spread within individual..members of a society. (Chess, 1997) Diskettes were the primary carriers of viruses in the 1980s. (Computer, 1997) Today, they are e-mail attachments, file transfers and infected software downloads or uploads. Networks can even spread viruses to large numbers of connected PCs rapidly. (Yang, 1998) No one working on a [personal computer] is risk free; more viruses are being spread today than ever before, but more help is being developed as well.

Special software is now in stores that will help to prevent any major disasters that viruses can cause. (Miastkowski, 1998) Antivirus software is a program that protects against viruses. It scans all files on the hard disk, diskettes, CD ROM, and memory to locate viruses. (Computer, 1997) The life cycle of a virus is rather complicated; it begins when a user runs an infected program. The computer copies the program from the disk into RAM, random access memory, where it can be performed.

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The viral code begins to run, and the virus copies itself into a part of RAM that is separate from the program. This allows the pesky virus to continue to spread while another program is running, until it is finished and passes back into the infected program. When the user runs a different program, the dormant virus begins to run again. It inserts a copy..into the..uninfected software so that the cycle..can repeat. (Chess, 1997) There are also other computer pests such as worms that effect networks, but viruses are the most common.

(Yang, 1998) Years of research have allowed scientists to find ways to detect and destroy viruses. (Chess, 1997) Building on decades of research by mathematical epidemiologists, [researchers] have obtained some understanding of the factors that govern how quickly viruses spread. (Yegulalp, 1997) Many researchers feel that they owe much to pattern-matching techniques developed by computational biologists. (Chess, 1997) This has helped them to develop antivirus software from the defenses used by the human body to fight off pathogens. According to an independent survey by the National Computer Security Association, the infection rate for personal computers in North America has more than tripled in the last year.

(McDonald, 1997) In the 1990s, the virus problem has become an epidemic. New forms, including the shape-changing polymorphic virus, elusive stealth strains, and the very common macro viruses are making their appearance with alarming frequency. (Yang, 1998) The macro viruses are big problems; they infect very popular programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. This type of virus can effect daily work much easier than any other virus. (Miastkowski, 1998) Almost any [antivirus] package does a nice job of finding and eradicating most viruses, including macro viruses. The key is to keep the products’ library of signatures–binary code that helps identify viruses–current. (Yegulalp, 1997) That is one area where these packages differ most. Some of the major brands of antivirus software include Norton AntiVirus 4.0, PC-cillin 3.0, Dr.

Solomons Anti-Virus 7.0, McAfee VirusScan 3.0, and IBM AntiVirus 3.0.1. (Miastkowski, 1998) All the programs share some common attributes; for starters..each program indeed hunts down and eradicates the bugs introduced into a system. (Cope, 1998) By far, the best at detecting and destroying viruses is Norton AntiVirus 4.0; it offers superior protection. This particular software uses a virus-detection technology called Bloodhound. It sniffs out viruses that may have been mutated beyond their original forms. (Yegulalp, 1997) TouchStones PC-cillin 3.0 follows closely behind Norton AntiVirus 4.0; it provides sufficient protection, and updates are available over the internet. (Miastkowski, 1998) Each program scans or boot-sector and memory-resident viruses automatically when [the user] turns on the computer.

They also include a Windows 95 antivirus shield that blocks contamination from infected floppy disks and warns the user when a tainted file is being run. In addition, they let users perform manual scans of any drive from within Windows 95, and also check..files downloaded from the Internet. (Cope, 1998) Norton AntiVirus 4.0 generously incorporates its Windows NT, DOS, Windows 3.x and Windows 95 editions into one package. PC-cillin also runs under NT, although TouchStone ships the NT edition as a separate product. (Yegulalp, 1997) Another advantage to the Norton AntiVirus software is the installation process; it is not difficult, and several options are provided for the user.

Norton AntiVirus can load live protection and allow the user to create a rescue disk set. The rescue disk set backs up the system, allowing the user to boot and recover from a virus attack. (Hackers, 1997) The PC-cillin software is very protective also. Upon installation, PC-cillin immediately makes sure its own files are clean, since an infected antivirus program is powerless to prevent further infection. (Yegulalp, 1997) This program also offers a backup system and scan of the system before Windows 95 loads. (Yang, 1998) The latest version of PC-cillin informs the user as it is scanning an internet connection.

It offers much tighter functionality than before. Earlier PC-cillin users will definitely want to upgrade. (Yegulalp, 1997) On the surface, it looks as if the odds are against personal computer users. Despite increased use of antivirus software, viruses continue to spread at an unnerving rate. (McDonald, 1997) Clearly, anti-virus software is one of the smartest buys a computer owner can make.

There are nearly 10,000 known computer viruses threatening the world’s personal computers, with effects ranging from relatively harmless to ferociously destructive. (Cope, 1998) These troublemakers can spread to personal computers easily from an infected floppy disk, as well as from files downloaded onto the hard drive from an e- mail attachment and the Internet. (McDonald, 1997) Despite the great reviews of these antivirus programs, many computer researchers maintain a sense of skepticism towards complete protection. Regardless of how sophisticated antivirus technology may become, computer viruses will forever remain in an uneasy coexistence with us and our computers. (Chess, 1997) Unless there are updates to virus scanners every few minutes, no one is completely safe from a destructive virus. New viruses are popping up so fast that virus scanner vendors cannot hope to keep up with them. Even with the best of tools and policies, bulletproof security is probably unattainable. High costs, changing networks and software versions, incomplete security tools, and the growing pool of ingenious and dedicated hackers prohibit this. (Hackers, 1997) The numbers of people who can create new viruses have also increased.

(Yang, 1998) [In June 1997], a group of hackers quickly cracked a much-vaunted..code using relatively simple brute force techniques. (Hackers, 1997) This breach of security was only five weeks after the data security invited the attack in the hope of proving its codes resistant to such attacks. Over several years, people have been perfecting the care of personal computers. However, over that same amount of time, others have been hard at work to develop new ways to cause a system to crash. Some problems with a personal computer cannot be stopped, but preventative action can take place for viruses. Every computer user should be equipped with an antivirus program; there is no way of predicting whether or not a simple file contains a tremendous virus. The user must leave such a decision to the computer itself; only it can detect and destroy the virus. By purchasing a simple antivirus package, each computer user can hamper viruses from entering and destroying his personal computer.

After taking all of the costs into consideration, it is much more expensive to rebuild a computer after destruction than it is to purchase an effective antivirus software package. Bibliography Works Cited Chess, David, Jeffrey Kephart, Gregory Sorkin, and Steve White. Fighting Computer Viruses: Biological Metaphors Offer Insight into Many Aspects of Computer Viruses and Can Inspire Defenses Against Them. Scientific American Nov. 1997: 134-138. Computer.

The World Book Encyclopedia. 1997. Cope, Jim. A Buyer’s Guide To Virus Protection: Get the Lowdown on Six Win 95 Programs that Keep Digital Bugs from Invading your PC and Destroying your Files. NetGuide Mar. 1998: 143-146 Hackers, Terrorists, and Spies: You know they’re coming at you.

Can you stop them? Software Magazine Oct. 1997: 76. McDonald, Glenn. Viruses: An Anatomy of Mass Hysteria. PCWorld Sept. 1997: 123-125 Miastkowski, Stan.

Virus Killers 1998: This Year, Macro Viruses are Running Rampant. Which Antivirus Program is Your Best Defense? PC World Mar. 1998: 114-116. Yang, W.D. Be Aware of Viruses and Use Protection. Computer Times 18 February 1998: 85-89. Yegulalp, Serdar.

Head to Head: Antivirus Software Virus Protection Superheroes. Windows Magazin Technology.


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