Polymorphic And Cloning Computer Viruses Essay

1832 words - 7 pages

The generation of today is growing up in a fast-growing, high-tech world which allows us to do the impossibilities of yesterday. With the help of modern telecommunications and the rapid growth of the personal computer in the average household we are able to talk to and share information with people from all sides of the globe. However, this vast amount of information transport has opened the doors for the computer 'virus' of the future to flourish. As time passes on, so-called 'viruses' are becoming more and more adaptive and dangerous. No longer are viruses merely a rarity among computer users and no longer are they mere nuisances. Since many people depend on the data in their computer every day to make a living, the risk of catastrophe has increased tenfold. The people who create computer viruses are now becoming much more adept at making them harder to detect and eliminate. These so-called 'polymorphic' viruses are able to clone themselves and change themselves as they need to avoid detection. This form of 'smart viruses' allows the virus to have a form of artificial intelligence. To understand the way a computer virus works and spreads, first one must understand some basics about computers, specifically pertaining to the way it stores data. Because of the severity of the damage that these viruses may cause, it is important to understand how anti-virus programs go about detecting them and how the virus itself adapts to meet the ever changing conditions of a computer.In much the same way as animals, computer viruses live in complex environments. In this case, the computer acts as a form of ecosystem in which the virus functions. In order for someone to adequately understand how and why the virus adapts itself, it must first be shown how the environment is constantly changing and how the virus can interact and deal with these changes. There are many forms of computers in the world; however, for simplicity's sake, this paper will focus on the most common form of personal computers, the 80x86, better known as an IBM compatible machine. The computer itself is run by a special piece of electronics known as a microprocessor. This acts as the brains of the computer ecosystem and could be said to be at the top of the food chain. A computer's primary function is to hold and manipulate data and that is where a virus comes into play. Data itself is stored in the computer via memory. There are two general categories for all memory: random access memory (RAM) and physical memory (hard and floppy diskettes). In either of those types of memory can a virus reside. RAM is by nature temporary; every time the computer is reset the RAM is erased. Physical memory, however, is fairly permanent. A piece of information, data, file, program, or virus placed here will still be around in the event that the computer is turned off.Within this complex environment, exists computer viruses. There is no exact and concrete definition for a computer virus, but over time some...

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