Since the beginnings of the computer and internet, viruses have also coexisted with us. Like biological viruses, they are unwanted parasites, and often inflict damage to computers internally. The damage they inflict can vary, but like biological viruses, they are also many cures available. Programmers have developed firewalls, virus detection programs, and anti virus programs to combat this menace. Sometimes these defenses are not enough, because like true viruses, they can evolve and change (polymorphic). The only difference that they withhold from biological viruses is that they are all man made.

The "Fantastic Four" of viruses are: 

Relevant Terms:

worm A program or algorithm that replicates itself over a computer network and usually performs malicious actions, such as using up the computer's resources and possibly shutting the system down.
social engineering In the realm of computers, the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain otherwise secure data by conning an individual into revealing secure information.
attachment A file attached to an e-mail message. There are a number of encoding schemes, the two most prevalent being Uuencode and MIME.
e-mail Short for electronic mail, the transmission of messages over communications networks.
anti-virus software Software tools for detecting, blocking and/or removing viruses from files, emails or network communications.
hoax The most common hoax, however, is the hoax virus. This usually consists of an email message warning recipients about a new and terribly destructive virus. It ends by suggesting that the reader should warn his or her friends and colleagues.
payload This is the malicious activity that the virus performs. Not all viruses have payloads, but there are some that perform destructive actions.
virus A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses can also replicate themselves. All computer viruses are manmade.
zombies Zombies may remain dormant on your computer system for an extended period of time. They are normally programs used by hackers in a coordinated attack on a system. Transmitted through E-mail.

(Taken from: Webopedia)

The History of Viruses

1970s - Early Virus-like Program: Hipboot
1981 - The First Virus In The Wild
The virus was named Elk Cloner and displayed a little rhyme on the screen:
     It will get on all your disks
        It will infiltrate your chips
           Yes it's Cloner!
     It will stick to you like glue
        It will modify ram too
           Send in the Cloner!
1983 - The First Documented Experimental Virus
1986 - Brain, PC-Write Trojan, & Virdem
             Because it spread widely on the popular MS-DOS PC system this is typically called the first computer virus.
1987 - File Infectors, Lehigh, & Christmas Worm
             The first file viruses started to appear. 
1988 - MacMag, Scores, & Internet Worm
1989 - AIDS Trojan
1990 - VX BBS & Little Black Book (AT&T Attack)
1991 - Tequila
             Tequila was the first polymorphic virus; it came out of Switzerland and changed itself in an attempt to avoid 
1992 - Michelangelo, DAME, & VCL
1995 - Year of the Hacker
1995 - Concept
1996 - Boza, Laroux, & Staog
1998 - Strange Brew & Back Orifice
1999 - Melissa, Corner, Tristate, & Bubbleboy
2000 - DDoS, Love Letter, Timofonica, Liberty (Palm), Streams, & Pirus
             In May the Love Letter worm became the fastest-spreading worm (to that time); shutting down E-mail systems 
          around the world. 
2001 - Gnuman, Winux Windows/Linux Virus, LogoLogic-A Worm, AplS/Simpsons Worm, PeachyPDF-A, Nimda
2002 - LFM-926, Donut, Sharp-A, SQLSpider, Benjamin, Perrun, Scalper
2003 - Slammer, Sobig, Lovgate, Fizzer, Blaster/Welchia/Mimail 
             Sobig, a worm that carried its own SMTP mail program and used Windows network shares to spread.
2004 - Trojan.Xombe, Randex, Bizex, Witty, MP3Concept, Sasser, Mac OS X, W64.Rugrat.3344, Symb/Cabir-A, 
            JS/Scob-A, WCE/Duts-A, W32/Amus-A, WinCE/Brador-A, JPEG Weakness, SH/Renepo-A, Bofra/IFrame, 
             Year 2004 started where 2003 left off with social engineering taking the lead in propagation techniques.
2005 - Bropia, Troj/BankAsh, Chod
             In 2005 the end of January saw the Bropia Worm which targets MSN Messenger for spreading.
(Taken from: Virus History)

Virus Report: Love Bug
Virus Prevention

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David Leung