Patterns of Viruses Past

Computer Security

When people hear about a new computer virus it definitely grabs their attention. No one likes to be left vulnerable and the thought of it makes most peoples skin crawl. The fact is that a properly designed and executed virus attack could almost shut down the world as we know it. When looking back on some of the past viruses that stand out as the most devastating, you should remember that future attacks promise to be much worse.

Mydoom virus hit the computer world in 94 and infected almost a half a million computers in just one day. It appeared as a normal error message but contained malicious programming. It was a huge outbreak and was recognized worldwide. The main target for this worm was Windows and the message simply read, "This message contains Unicode characters and has been sent as a binary attachment." Because it sounded intelligent and was not promising nude photos or lucrative money guarantees, it seemed simple enough and most people opened it. By then it was too late, the virus had flourished.

In 99 the Melissa virus landed with a fury. It affected machines with Microsoft Word 97 and Word 2000. It came in the form of an email attachment with a subject line that read, "Important message from (users full name) which again gave the email some validity and the body was in full text and simply said, "Here is the document that you asked for...do not show it to anyone else." As soon as the virus was executed it immediately lowered the macro settings which left the machine vulnerable because it allowed all macros to run when any future documents were opened with no knowledge to the user. It then checked the register keys for the correct value and if it was not present then it would send the same email to the first fifty people in the users address book. Finally, once the value is added to the registry key then the macro infects the normal.dot template file resulting in any future Word documents being infected.

The final encore was when the minute of the hour matched the day of the month, the macro would insert a final message into a document that stated, "Twenty-two points, triple word score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Games over. I'm outta here." The Melissa virus was so powerful that it caused Microsoft as well as many other huge companies to completely shut down their email systems until the virus was contained.

The ILoveYou virus arrived in 2000 and it too, was an email virus. The subject line read, "I love you." The message read, "Kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me." You guessed it, as soon as the attachment is opened the worm runs and attaches copies of it and writes an .HTM file. It also manipulates the registry keys and changes any jpg or jpeg files with copies of it instead. Basically, it overwrites every single file. These are a few of the worst viruses that have been dealt with in the past years but most fear that the worst is yet to come.

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