The Damage Computer Viruses Can Inflict Computer Science Essay

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A firewall greatly aids in protecting a computer from virus infection. The use of several different types of antiviral software help to root out viruses. Some of these programs detect more subtle viruses that others miss. Regularly running updated antiviral and antispyware software, as well as keeping current with Window updates, helps keep a system running at optimum. The most common way to catch a virus is by clicking on an infected message or email attachment. Other preventative measures include using a safe browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, as well as selecting strong administrative passwords. It is imperative to backup data. If a virus crashes a computer, the backup can then restore the data (Pascoe, 2010).

Because viruses constantly attack computers, antiviral programs should be activated once or twice a week. When a program detects a virus, the program will ask if the virus should be removed. Before saying yes, the system restore must be disabled. If not, the system restore function will restore the virus. While the system restore is open, any dates the virus was active must be deleted. Once the viruses are removed, the system restore can be enabled (Hanson, 2010).

With today's advancing technologies, new viruses appear at increasing rates. One of the latest viruses, W32/Ridnu, modifies the Windows Explorer file browser's advanced settings, folder view settings, and control panel settings (McAfee, 2010). The Here You Have virus attacks email with the subject line, 'Here You Have'. A number of organizations such as ABC/Disney and NASA have been infected. When the 'Here You Have' tab is clicked on, the virus spams the whole contact list of the person who opens the file, and can cause email servers to shut down. If this tab is clicked, the virus will pooch the computer. Once the computer is turned off, the virus is activated (Walker, 2010).

The Mariposa Botnet virus is one of the worst in history. The criminals who devised this virus used a virtual private network to keep their IP address from being identified. The Mariposa Botnet stole data from more than 800,000 users, including their bank accounts, passwords, credit card numbers, names and more. These hackers used bank account numbers to launder money through online poker games (Corrons, 2010).

Why would anyone write and implement a virus? The answers are many and varied. Some programmers have idle time and find the process very exciting. Others write viruses for their own enjoyment to see if they can improve their previous version. Many programmers write and release viruses because they find it so interesting. Vengeance is also a motivating factor. Ultimately, most programmers do it simply for financial gain (Bontchev, 1997).

Laws administer penalties both in the United States and abroad. Although possession of a virus code is not illegal, distribution of the code with the intent to cause damage or economic loss is illegal. In the United States, prison sentences can be as long as 20 years with fines up to $250,000 dollars. The perpetrator may face additional criminal charges under state laws as well (Montana, 2000).

On May 9, 2006, Jeanson Ancheta pled guilty to four felony charges of violating United States Code Section 1030, Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers. He controlled large numbers of hijacked computers or botnets. Ancheta must serve 60 months in prison, forfeit a 1993 BMW, and face the loss of more than $58,000 in profit. He must also pay restitution of $15,000 to the U.S. federal government for infecting its military computers (Jeanson James Ancheta, 2010).

One method to protect systems from cyber criminals is to install an anti-viral program such as Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). MSE has real-time detection capable of running a quick scan, full scan, or custom scan. The user of MSE controls the schedule of the scan. This program comes with no cost to the user, and is easy to install and use, with features like automatic updates and upgrades. The user will know when the system is protected when the window is green. MSE runs quietly in the background, only alerting you if there is something you need to do (Rosenblatt, 2009).

If your anti-viral program cannot remove a virus, an anti-virus program called Bitdefender may be successful in place of it. This program offers protection from the latest viruses, spyware and web based attacks (Hanson, 2010) (Support).

The age of technology rapidly advances. Education is paramount to keep up with the latest developments and minimize susceptibility to computer hackers. One must be proactive in avoiding the problems that compromise computer systems, steal identities and data, and incur costs by using the simple techniques described above.