Protection Against Viruses For All Essay, Research Paper
Protection Against Viruses for All
The word virus can be very disheartening, especially when computers are
involved. A virus is composed of instructions hidden inside a program.
These instructions copy themselves to other programs, and the cycle continues spreading. Fortunately, help is available; endeavors software is available to anyone.
“Viruses first appeared in 1985. Then, they were largely created in university
laboratories by mostly wayward geniuses keen to pit their programming skills against each other. Since then, errant programmers began to create newer and more destructive viruses targeted at specific user groups.” (Yang, 1998) A computer virus can be as “evil as it sounds, snaking its way into personal computers, posing an occasional annoyance or a serious threat to all data.” (Miastkowski, 1998) Symptoms can range from unpleasant to fatal. Computer viruses 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) Endeavors 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. 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 epidemiologist, [researchers] have obtained some understanding of the factors that govern how quickly viruses spread.” (Yegulalp, 1997) Many researchers eel that they owe much to “pattern-matching techniques developed by computational biologists.” (Chess, 1997) This has helped them to develop endeavors 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 [endeavors] 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 endeavors software include Norton Endeavors 4.0, PC-cillin 3.0, Dr. Solomon s Anti-Virus 7.0, McAfee VirusScan 3.0, and IBM Endeavors 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 Endeavors 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) TouchStone s PC-cillin 3.0 follows closely behind Norton Endeavors 4.0; it provides sufficient protection, and update 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 endeavors 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 Endeavors 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 Endeavors software is the
installation process; it is not difficult, and several options are provided for the
user. Norton Endeavors 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 endeavors 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 endeavors software, viruses continue to spread at an astounding 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 endeavors programs, many computer researchers maintain a sense of skepticism towards complete protection. “Regardless of how sophisticated endeavors 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 endeavors 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 endeavors 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 endeavors software package.
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PCWorld Sept. 1997: 123-125
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