What is a Cyber Virus ?

A Cyber Virus is an executable program code that has the ability to replicate itself numerous times very quickly.  It can attach itself to any kind of file and spreads itself as a file that is copied.
The replication in itself is not the main problem, but the damage routine that can be delivered by the Virus payload.
Payloads can display images, messages, selectively destroy files, reformat several drives or any other damaging programming request.
Joke Viruses don’t have a damaging routine, but they still affect your computer’s  performance by taking up storage space or memory (ex. Virus “Spawn”) when it replicates itself. This will definitly downgrade the overall performance of your system.

How does a Cyber Virus spreads ?

Not so long ago, Cyber Viruses were spread via floppy disks or any other external peripheral that was portable and could be used on another computer.
Nowadays, the Internet has given the Cyber Viruses a “speed of light” spreading capability being the E-Mail system a very important communication tool for private or business use.
Within minutes, an infected E-Mail can bring a Company down, causing costly productivity loss and clean-up expenses.
There are more than 50.000 known Cyber Viruses and an average of at least 100 are created every month.
Cyber Viruses won’t go away any time soon and they affect every Computer user directly or indirectly.
Keeping these numbers in mind, it is safe to assume that all organizations using Computers, will deal with Cyber Virus outbreaks from time to time.

How do you minimize the possibilities of being attacked by a Cyber Virus ?

It is very important that you keep your Anti-Virus Software as updated as possible, but this will give you only half the protection, the other half is being an educated Computer user (Safe practices)  and User common sense.
It is very important that you always remember that having an updated Anti-Virus program does not give you 100% automatic protection.
To start with, there is a time window from when a Virus is released to when the update is available.
During this time frame, the PC user is a “sitting duck” having as only protection his common sense.
You can compare the Internet to walking in a big city at night. You can be relatively safe but you have to be alert and caucious.
Ultimately what will help control these kind of disasters is not technological wizardry but the Cyber equivalent to  “Street Smart”.

What are the known Cyber Virus types at the moment ?

There are four known main classes :
Boot Sector Viruses
File Infecting  Viruses
Multi-Partite Viruses
Macro Viruses

What is a Boot Sector Virus ?

A few years ago , they were the most prevalent viruses. They use the 16-bit DOS to infect the Boot Sector of a floppy disk and then this floppy disk will infect the Master Boot Record (MBR) and the hard drive.
Once the MBR is infected, the Virus will attempt to infect the Boot Sector of every floppy disk that is used and accessed with this computer.
The Boot Sector Virus hides itself on the first sector of a disk. This is how the Virus is loaded into memory before the System files. This procedure allows the Virus to gain complete control of DOS interrupts making the spreading easier.
It is common practice that a Boot Sector Virus replaces the original contents of the MBR or DOS boot sector with their own contents and also moves the sector to another area in the disk.
The cleaning of a Boot Sector Virus can only be done by booting the affected Computer with an uninfected floppy System Disk or by finding the original Boot Sector and moving it to the correct location on the Disk.

What is an File Infecting Virus ?

They are also known as Parasite Viruses and operate normally in the memory.
The files that these Parasite Viruses target are normally executable files with extensions as :
The Parasite Virus is activated every time the infected file is executed, it can normally copy itself into other executable files and can remain in the memory long after the activation.
There are thousand of File Infecting Viruses, some of them operate in a DOS 16-bit environment and some operate in  Microsoft Windows, IBM OS/2, and Apple Computer Macintosh environments.

What is a Multi-Partite Virus ?

They have the characteristics of both: Boot Sector Viruses and File Infecting Viruses.

What is a Macro Virus ?

Macro Viruses infect the Macro utility that accompany applications.
Besides being the fastest growing Viruses in computer history, they represent most probably 80 percent of all the known Viruses.
Macro Viruses are Application specific but not Operating System specific.
Being Application specific means that a Word Macro Virus cannot infect an Excel file and vice versa.
They can be spread by E-mail attachments, floppy disks, Web downloads, file transfers and shared applications.
Macro files are written in Visual Basic and the infection can occur at different points during the use of the file, for example ; when opened, saved, closed or deleted.

Description of the Life Cycle of a Cyber Virus.

The Creation
In the past, only a programmer could create a Cyber Virus but nowadays with the help of all the conveniences and tools available, anybody with a little bit of programming knowledge can create one.
A lot of known Cyber Viruses are just an improved “cut & paste” version of former Cyber Viruses.
Cyber Viruses are usually created by misguided individuals who wish to cause widespread damage and gain recognition between their peers.

The Replication
Viruses replicate to spread themselves. A well-designed virus will replicate for a long time before it activates, which allows it plenty of time to spread before being detected.

The Activation
Viruses with damaging payloads will activate when the condition that was set is met, for example, a date condition or an action condition.

The Discovery
This phase doesn’t necessarily happen after activation.
When detected and isolated, it is sent to the International Computer Security Association in Washington, D.C., to be documented and distributed to antivirus developers.

The Assimilation
At this point, the corrective update is developed  by the Anti-Virus Developers.
This can take anywhere from a couple of hours to several days, depending on the developer and the virus type.

The Eradication
Eradicating a Cyber Virus is very difficult but having updated Anti-Virus Software, safe computer practices and User common sense will certainly make a Cyber Virus cease to be a major threat to the Cyber Community.



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