Virus Evolution History – Part 1

In this article we will examine how the growth of Windows and Visual Basic affected the evolution of computer viruses, since along with the development of those two technologies we had the appearance of global virus epidemics, like the virus Melissa in 1999.

While Windows were evolving as an application designed to facilitate the management of the DOS in a 32-bit operating system, the virus developers returned to using assembly as the main programming language to create viruses. Versions 5 and 6 of Visual Basic (VB) were, together with the Borland Delphi (Pascal language environments for Windows), the preferred development tool for creators of worms and Trojan horses. Then Visual C came into play, which offered a powerful application programming language for Windows. Quickly C was adopted by the creators of viruses, Trojan horses and worms. Viruses based on the Visual C language acquired unprecedented power, supplanting all other types of viruses. Although the characteristics of worms have changed with time, all have the same goal: to spread to as many computers in the shortest possible time.

Over time, Visual Basic became extremely popular and Microsoft implemented it as part of the functionality of a separate tool: an “interpreter” capable of executing script files that contained code with similar syntax.
Simultaneously, with the establishment of the 32-bit Windows platform, the first script file viruses were born: These were hostile software hidden inside a plain text file. Script file viruses showed that the executable files (files with extensions. EXE and. COM) were not the only ones that could carry viruses. As we have already seen with BAT files for viruses, there are other means of spreading a virus, fully justifying the assumption that everything that can be executed either directly or through an interpreter, may contain a hostile software. Specifically, the first viruses that could infect the macros contained in the applications of Microsoft Office came into the scene. As a result, Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint have become vehicles for the spread of lethal weapons, which destroy data even when users simply open a document.

What can happen to an unprotected home computer

I was reading an article the other day stating that a computer directly connected to the Internet without any protection (firewall, antivirus etc) will be hacked in less than 10 minutes. To resist the million attacks that your home computer will receive when connected┬áto the Internet “jungle”, I would recommend the following security protection mechanisms: Continue reading “What can happen to an unprotected home computer”

Comparison: Virus, Warm, Adware, Spyware, Trojan

We have all encountered terms like virus, warms, spyware etc many many times in the internet “jungle” without actually distinguishing between them. In this post I will try to define and compare all these malware threats that flow around the computer and internet worlds.

  • Virus: A virus is a malware program that is loaded on your computer without your knowledge, with the intent of doing some damage to your system. It normally attaches itself to another program or data file in order to spread and reproduce itself in other areas of the computer without the knowledge of the user. Normally a virus enters your computer through a spam email which has attachments (pictures or files) or by downloading infected programs from malicious sites. A virus can damage files or cause your computer to behave strangely.
  • Warm: Warms are memory-resident malware threats that can spread across networks by exploiting possible Vulnerabilities in the TCP/IP stack implementation of the OS and/or specific applications. They load themselves into the memory of a remote system and then execute themselves … all without ever being written to a disk. A warm therefore can live on its own and propagate by copying itself from one computer to another. Worms can harm a network, can consume tremendous bandwidth, and can shut a computer down.
  • The difference between viruses and worms is that a virus cannot replicate itself like a worm, and it usually affects the computer it has invaded. A worm acts autonomously, and uses a computer network in order to multiply itself and to send copies of itself to other systems. A virus needs a user action (e.g download of infected file, run a program etc) in order to propagate and spread itself. Continue reading “Comparison: Virus, Warm, Adware, Spyware, Trojan”