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Thread: Computer viruses

  1. #1

    Default Computer viruses

    40 years ago, when I was dabbling with programming, I wrote a program for online communication that was impervious to online virus attacks. When I tell people that, they give me a skeptical look and say "Well, you must be rich then". In reality, writing software that doesn't enable viruses is a whole lot easier than writing software that can allow a virus to take over your computer.

    The overwhelming majority of people who use a PC have no need to have their computers controlled via a third party over a network connection, yet operating system software is written to allow this kind of control. Writing software for exchanging multi-media data, which is all we really want for our web based activities, is fairly straight forward and could be easily set up to discard viruses rather than turn over control to them. Data that appear on the network port will be displayed or filed according to type (text, video, sound, etc.). If a program, which is what a virus is, appears at the port your software should simply file it away as a program but not automatically install it and run it. Enabling a virus to take over your computer takes extra programming involving setting up and installing the code in a special area of memory and then turning control over to it. If this "extra programming" isn't included as part of your operating system that poor virus won't be able to automatically run.

    Unfortunately, operating systems are designed to allow businesses access to your computer. It is this access that allows busnesses to view your files and change your settings without your knowledge, and it is what allows viruses to operate. I wonder how much of my computer's resources, and how much of the bandwidth I'm paying for, is being used for their purposes rather than mine. At the same time these "legitimate" businesses are accessing my computer they are compromising it's security and exposing it to virus attacks. And think of all the time your computer spends running antivirus software instead of doing the tasks you want it to do everytime you use the computer.

    Look at the recent case where a hacker was able to take nude pictures of Miss Teen USA by remotely watching her through her own computer's camera without her knowledge. I'm sure it's happened more than just this one time but in this case the guy got caught only because he tried blackmailing the girl.

    Sorry about the rant. This is one of my main gripes about computers and I like to vent about it every once in a while. The bottom line is that software giants can easily write software to prohibit online viruses from automatically infecting your computer. This new software would make your computer faster and more efficient and eliminate much of the need for time wasting virus scans and firewalls that interfere with your network speed. The only thing that is stopping them is the fact that they can make money by mining your personal data.

  2. #2

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    In total agreement, I try to just keep a closer eye inward/outward coms activity, I am a little obsessive.
    Bottom line and you already know it Business runs for Profit! Whoop!!

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    Look at the recent case where a hacker was able to take nude pictures of Miss Teen USA by remotely watching her through her own computer's camera without her knowledge. I'm sure it's happened more than just this one time but in this case the guy got caught only because he tried blackmailing the girl.
    Wow, I didn't hear about that and here I was thinking I was paranoid putting a smiley sticker over my chromebook camera.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strontium View Post
    Wow, I didn't hear about that and here I was thinking I was paranoid putting a smiley sticker over my chromebook camera.
    Unless you're an attractive girl or rich enough to be worth blackmailing, you're being paranoid.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AEsahaettr View Post
    Unless you're an attractive girl or rich enough to be worth blackmailing, you're being paranoid.
    Damn and blast, I'll add paranoia to my list then

  6. #6

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    That's an insanely over-simplified and mostly incorrect view of things...

    Yes, sometimes attacks revolve around built in features, but for the most part they revolve around exploiting unintended functionality or a mistake (unchecked input, bad memory management, logic errors, etc), and modifying or even installing software to do whatever it is they want.

    Protecting the execution stack and software/OS level hardening is an extremely complex field that no one has perfected yet. It's not as simple as just "making the OS not allow viruses".



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    The only thing that is stopping them is the fact that they can make money by mining your personal data.
    Linux has (for the most part) been developed independent of such motivations, and while it is somewhat more secure (more by virtue of starting out from a networked background vice the localized windows desktop and peer review of code imo), it still has plenty of (quickly patched) vulnerabilities. What motivation is it you think someone writing free software has to not make things secure, especially if making it secure is a primary interest...

  7. #7

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    honestly im kinda scared to keep my new desktop hooked to the internet now. but as for my laptop, it runs 2 linux OS on it, one is backtrack 5 r3 (ubuntu based) and the other is the current stable long term Ubuntu (12.04 i think) and i have never had any issue with viruses on it. the only viruses that have ever flaged were files Ubuntu's version of avast found in the windows partition of my Hard drive.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter
    40 years ago, when I was dabbling with programming, I wrote a program for online communication that was impervious to online virus attacks. When I tell people that, they give me a skeptical look and say "Well, you must be rich then". In reality, writing software that doesn't enable viruses is a whole lot easier than writing software that can allow a virus to take over your computer.
    A lot has changed in the past 40 years as far as programming languages and other technology is concerned. Probably not a safe assertion to make on dabbling from back in the say late 70's.

    T

    he overwhelming majority of people who use a PC have no need to have their computers controlled via a third party over a network connection, yet operating system software is written to allow this kind of control. Writing software for exchanging multi-media data, which is all we really want for our web based activities, is fairly straight forward and could be easily set up to discard viruses rather than turn over control to them. Data that appear on the network port will be displayed or filed according to type (text, video, sound, etc.). If a program, which is what a virus is, appears at the port your software should simply file it away as a program but not automatically install it and run it. Enabling a virus to take over your computer takes extra programming involving setting up and installing the code in a special area of memory and then turning control over to it. If this "extra programming" isn't included as part of your operating system that poor virus won't be able to automatically run.
    Most of that "extra programming" to my knowledge patches this run around and most newer systems contain protocols to prevent this. But you've also ignored worms, rootkits, run-scripts, and other such newer malware than computer viruses.



    Unfortunately, operating systems are designed to allow businesses access to your computer. It is this access that allows busnesses to view your files and change your settings without your knowledge, and it is what allows viruses to operate. I wonder how much of my computer's resources, and how much of the bandwidth I'm paying for, is being used for their purposes rather than mine. At the same time these "legitimate" businesses are accessing my computer they are compromising it's security and exposing it to virus attacks. And think of all the time your computer spends running antivirus software instead of doing the tasks you want it to do everytime you use the computer.
    Though such things have happened, it is not as rampant as you've made it out to be. Considering the community cultures involved with computer programming, such deviant businesses would be exposed very quickly. Unless you have a really bloated and crappy antivirus, and a non secure, outdated system...one really has little to worry or be annoyed with.



    Look at the recent case where a hacker was able to take nude pictures of Miss Teen USA by remotely watching her through her own computer's camera without her knowledge. I'm sure it's happened more than just this one time but in this case the guy got caught only because he tried blackmailing the girl.
    Most people in these situations are tricked to download the program which is far easier than trying to get into a secure system. Such programs are rampant and there is even an underground black market for such photos. There is the human element of computer security too. Know what you download. Know how your system works.



    Sorry about the rant. This is one of my main gripes about computers and I like to vent about it every once in a while. The bottom line is that software giants can easily write software to prohibit online viruses from automatically infecting your computer. This new software would make your computer faster and more efficient and eliminate much of the need for time wasting virus scans and firewalls that interfere with your network speed. The only thing that is stopping them is the fact that they can make money by mining your personal data.
    I'm not so sure this is a very accurate analysis, but there is indeed a drive to make systems more secure. No system is perfect, and there is a way to exploit an aspect of a system someone usually will find a way.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoundCoder View Post
    That's an insanely over-simplified and mostly incorrect view of things...

    Yes, sometimes attacks revolve around built in features, but for the most part they revolve around exploiting unintended functionality or a mistake (unchecked input, bad memory management, logic errors, etc), and modifying or even installing software to do whatever it is they want.

    Protecting the execution stack and software/OS level hardening is an extremely complex field that no one has perfected yet. It's not as simple as just "making the OS not allow viruses".



    Linux has (for the most part) been developed independent of such motivations, and while it is somewhat more secure (more by virtue of starting out from a networked background vice the localized windows desktop and peer review of code imo), it still has plenty of (quickly patched) vulnerabilities. What motivation is it you think someone writing free software has to not make things secure, especially if making it secure is a primary interest...
    Somewhat oversimplified, yes, but the fact remains that a virus appearing at a network port can't just install itself. There has to be code written for the PC that allows it to run a virus. That code may be embedded deeper than the OS. It could be in the BIOS or the firmware. I'm not a computer scientist but I'm guessing this is where Linux is getting some of its vulnerability issues. Another problem could be the fact that the web was structured around PCs that allowed this behavior (thank you, Microsoft), becoming dependent on automatic access to sensitive files in these computers in order to function. Software written for web access may necessarily have to expose itself to some risk at this point.

  10. #10

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    @Geno. Programming has changed some in the past 40 years but I don't think human nature has changed a whole lot. Fortran was the main scientific language at the time and I believe that has been pretty much phased out. COBOL was an awkward, antiquated language used for business but that one might still be around because it was so ingrained in all the major business applications. Pascal and C++ were the up and coming languages for serious programmers. I believe Windows was originally written in Pascal.

    These "deviant businesses" we are talking about are companies like Microsoft, and sure, they have been exposed on occasion, but nothing has changed as they are too big to be concerned with our little problems.

    How rampant is the issue? Am I just being paranoid? Every time you go online your activity is being tracked by various people or organizations around the world. The tracking devices are little snippets of code the industry calls "cookies". Awww... isn't that sweet? I'm sure they only have our best interests at heart.

    If you've ever worked with Regedit you've seen the warning that one little mistake or typo in this file could render your computer useless, yet some highschool kid in Timbuktu can change this file in my computer just to make it difficult to restore my homepage after he's hijacked it. Then there's adware and spyware plus thousands of viruses. True, there is software designed to plug these holes in security but sometimes you have to wonder just how much of your computer resources are used up playing these cat and mouse games. And the kicker is: most of these security holes were intentionally created by the industry leaders. Ah, but I keep forgetting - they are only doing what is best for us.

    It's true that malicious code can be a part of software we intentionally install. But the problem I'm talking about here is people gaining control of your computer, and access to your files, simply via the internet connection. Plugging this hole would make dealing with malicious software easier. If a commercial program was discovered to contain harmful software it's sales would plummet and the company that supplied it could face financial ruin.

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by Strontium View Post
    Wow, I didn't hear about that and here I was thinking I was paranoid putting a smiley sticker over my chromebook camera.
    lol...

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