From Womb to your Personal Computers Doom

By: F. Aldo

Last October 2 marked 170 years of Charles Darwin's return to England after five years spent around the world collecting knowledge about flora, fauna, wildlife and genealogy. The information he gathered would form the basis of his Theory Of Evolution. Interestingly on the same day in 1985, actor Rock Hudson would die from the AIDS virus. 149 years separated two very contrasting albeit controversial events—one delving into the very origin of life while the other, a death resulting from a threat with no known cure.

1985 also saw the emergence of another kind of virus—the first computer virus. More than twenty years later, computer viruses have morphed from a laboratory test into organized crime's new weapon of choice.

There was a time when viruses were no more than the fruits of idle hands. Some might even describe them as nothing more than hijinks by programmers out to make names for themselves. Even the naming of the viruses reflected a level of triviality, some were named for particular computer hardware brands, some for the virus programmer's girlfriend, one was a homage to a female tennis player known better for her curves than her on-court ability, and who could ever forget the disarming "I Love You" virus? It was indeed a nuisance for users when they find out that their computer system was infected. But with a little foresight and the right tools, it was a problem that could be handled. The cost for the home user was time wasted, but in a business environment, time wasted meant money lost.

Times have indeed changed. On October 3, an article appeared on the Techweb site describing how "toolkits" are now openly available to anyone wishing to set up a website with the intent of stealing their visitors' personal information. Toolkits, as the term itself suggests, are a package of codes that even those with little programming skills can use in setting up a rogue website. These rogue websites are programmed to secretly install codes to their visitor's browser. These codes take advantage of unpatched computers—those that do not have security updates. The installed code can then send information to the criminal about what the visitor is typing, for example their credit card number or bank account number. Depending on what kind of attack is launched on your computer, it could even be turned into a "zombie" computer—completely under the attacker's command.

"How do I protect myself?" you ask. Well, with a little foresight and the right tools naturally. And this applies especially to users of Microsoft Windows since it is the preferred operating system of cyber criminals because of its many weaknesses. Make sure your computer is up to date with their security patches. Install anti virus software, an entire suite (which includes anti spyware, firewall, spam blocker, etc.) if possible and see to it they are also up to date. Avoid going to "black market" websites—these include sites offer downloads of pirated software, pornography and the like.

Twenty-one years of infecting personal computers and annoying the users, yes indeed, computer viruses have come of age. But guess what? They have not even reached their prime.

Security
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Security
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles