The Effects Of A Computer Virus Computer Science Essay

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In this report we would shine light on how calamitous a computer virus infection could be too the information system of the commercial radio station (96 WEFM Limited). We would illustrate the importance of the company's information system in practically all aspects of its business operations and processes. Also, portray in detail the end result of a potential computer virus infection on the organisation. Additionally, cases in which past infections of 96 WEFM's Information System by computer viruses, and how it affected the company vastly would also be exposed. As well as, recommend various initiatives the organisation can implement as an attempt to minimise this risk as a challenge of Information Systems Management.



A brief outline of the organisation will be given along with a glossary of key definitions, before we can comprehend and understand the result of a computer virus infection on the commercial radio station 96WEFM Limited's Information System.

Organisational History

96WEFM is an FM radio station broadcasting on 96.1 MHz in the country of Trinidad and Tobago. The commercial radio station is privately owned by Trinidad and Tobago Radio Network Limited and began broadcasting on December 16, 1993. The radio station's format is based on Urban Caribbean (soca, dancehall), R&B and hip-hop music, and seeks an audience base of youth and teenagers [1] . The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company Tony Chow Lin On being a relatively young CEO is in tune with modernity and is always looking for the latest, finest and lucrative technology that could be incorporated into 96WEFM organizational structure. Over the years the company evolved from using traditional vinyl records to using the digital music files, analog broadcasting equipment evolved to digital and its physical file management system modernised to one using latest computer technology. Some examples of the technology used within 96WEFM are: - Scratch Live is a DJ solution that comprises of the Serato Scratch Live software, Serato Control and hardware from Rane. Serato Scratch Live lightened the load for the professional traveling DJ. Heavy crates of records can be exchanged into a huge library of music that can be easily transported on a computer hard drive [2] . They also use smart card technology and electronic time card reader in the company's payroll system and also as a security measure.

Definitions and key terms


Data are classically defined as the basic building block of human knowledge and consist of separate, uncorrelated raw facts. The classic definition of data implies that the raw datum by itself delivers no benefit to the final user [3] .


Information is a property of data resulting from or produced by a process performed on the data. The process may be simply data transmission; it maybe data selection; it maybe data organisation; it maybe data analysis [4] .

Information Technology

Information Technology (IT) includes all matters concerned with the furtherance of computer science and technology and with the design, development, installation, and implementation of information systems and applications. IT architecture is an integrated framework for acquiring and evolving IT in order to achieve strategic goals. It has both logical and technical components. Logical components include system configurations, information flows, and mission, functional, and information requirements. Technical components include IT standards and rules that will be used to implement the logical architecture [5] .

Information System

The classic definition states that "An Information System (IS) is a system that collects, stores, processes, and distributes information" [6] . Information System is defined in various ways, such as, IS are social-technical system. Information System technically is a set of interrelated components that collect or retrieve, process, store and distribute information to support decision making, coordination, control, analysis and visualization in an organisation [7] .

An information system is the people and procedures that collect, transform, utilise and disseminate information through the use of IT. Like other systems it consists of inputs, processes, outputs and feedback loops [8] .

Computer Virus

In computers, a virus is a program or programming code that replicates by being copied or initiating its copying to another program, computer boot sector or document. Viruses can be transmitted as attachments to an e-mail note or in a downloaded file, or be present on a diskette or CD. Some viruses wreak their effect as soon as their code is executed; other viruses lie dormant until circumstances cause their code to be executed by the computer. Some viruses are benign or playful in intent and effect ("Happy Birthday, Ludwig!") and some can be quite harmful, erasing data or causing your hard disk to require reformatting. Generally, there are three main classes of viruses: File infectors, System or boot infectors and Macro viruses [9] .

C:\Documents and Settings\Owner.YOUR-A1D423541E\Desktop\funcsInfoSys.jpg

Types of computer Viruses [10] 

Resident Viruses

This type of virus is a permanent which dwells in the RAM memory. From there it can overcome and interrupt all of the operations executed by the system: corrupting files and programs that are opened, closed, copied, renamed etc.

Direct Action Viruses

The main purpose of this virus is to replicate and take action when it is executed. When a specific condition is met, the virus will go into action and infect files in the directory or folder that it is in and in directories that are specified in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file PATH. This batch file is always located in the root directory of the hard disk and carries out certain operations when the computer is booted.

Overwrite Viruses

Virus of this kind is characterized by the fact that it deletes the information contained in the files that it infects, rendering them partially or totally useless once they have been infected.

The only way to clean a file infected by an overwrite virus is to delete the file completely, thus losing the original content.

Boot Virus

This type of virus affects the boot sector of a floppy or hard disk. This is a crucial part of a disk, in which information on the disk itself is stored together with a program that makes it possible to boot (start) the computer from the disk. The best way of avoiding boot viruses is to ensure that floppy disks are write-protected and never start your computer with an unknown floppy disk in the disk drive.

Macro Virus

These are among the most common viruses, and they tend to do the least damage. Macro viruses infect your Microsoft Word application and typically insert unwanted words or phrases.

Directory Virus

Directory viruses change the paths that indicate the location of a file. By executing a program (file with the extension .EXE or .COM) which has been infected by a virus, you are unknowingly running the virus program, while the original file and program have been previously moved by the virus.

Once infected it becomes impossible to locate the original files.

Polymorphic Virus

Polymorphic viruses encrypt or encode themselves in a different way (using different algorithms and encryption keys) every time they infect a system.

This makes it impossible for anti-viruses to find them using string or signature searches (because they are different in each encryption) and also enables them to create a large number of copies of themselves.

File Infectors

This type of virus infects programs or executable files (files with an .EXE or .COM extension). When one of these programs is run, directly or indirectly, the virus is activated, producing the damaging effects it is programmed to carry out. The majority of existing viruses belongs to this category, and can be classified depending on the actions that they carry out.

Companion Viruses

Companion viruses can be considered file infector viruses like resident or direct action types. They are known as companion viruses because once they get into the system they "accompany" the other files that already exist. In other words, in order to carry out their infection routines, companion viruses can wait in memory until a program is run (resident viruses) or act immediately by making copies of themselves (direct action viruses).

FAT Virus

The file allocation table or FAT is the part of a disk used to connect information and is a vital part of the normal functioning of the computer. This type of virus attack can be especially dangerous, by preventing access to certain sections of the disk where important files are stored. Damage caused can result in information losses from individual files or even entire directories.

The potential impact of infection by computer viruses would have on 96WEFM Limited

Over the years viruses have been written for many different systems, including mainframes. Computer viruses are no longer exclusively in the domain of universities, there has been an alarming increase of cases in the public and private sector. Soon nearly every PC user will have come into contact with a virus at least once. Meanwhile, the number of different viruses for the IBM-PCs and compatibles is rising daily [11] , In 1988 we counted only TWELVE viruses! Where as, throughout 2007 more than 711,912 novel threats have been detected by Symantec which brings the total number of malicious programs that the security firm's anti-virus programs detect to 1,122,311 in 2007. The new high for malicious programs was revealed by Symantec in an edition of its bi-annual Internet Security Threat Report [12] .

Computer viruses will cost businesses around the world more than $1.5 trillion this year. Large U.S. businesses alone will lose $266 billion, or more than 2.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a study conducted by InformationWeek Research, a New York-based Internet research and media company. For businesses, computer bugs no longer are a curiosity but an operating expense. Security and cyber-intelligence firms, however, are profiting from virus proliferation [13] .

From the facts above we can gather that a company's information system is no longer seen as an independent entity but rather a crucial and essential part of the company. Managers understand that IT is more than just computers. Today IT must be conceived of broadly to encompass the information that businesses create and use as well as a wide spectrum of increasingly convergent and linked technologies that process the information. This means information systems are re-engineering companies and businesses. Information systems "knowledge" is essential for managers, organisations need information systems to "survive and prosper" and they're seen as "strategic resource".

This raises the question, Why information? Information is seen as an organisational resource, presently, many organisations rely heavily on the use of information. Also the strategic significance of the new IT has alerted management to focus their efforts on this resource. Information and information systems have a competitive potential, the aim of an organisation is often to have an advantage over the competition. When a organisation is doing better than the competition it's said that the organisation is having a 'competitive advantage'.

IT Capital Investment

Now we could clearly see from the above definitions that computer virus is software that enters computers and computer systems without the user's permission or knowledge, with an ability to replicate itself, specifically for malicious intentions. Viruses do damage to files as well as programs and even in some cases rendering hard disks or storage medians useless. But all viruses don't just do damage, some viruses are written for fiendish purposes such as stealing information.

With respect to 96WEFM Limited.

96WEFM's business strategy basically is providing high quality entertainment through radio broadcasting, building a large listener base, then accruing capital via advertising. This occurs by means of promoting high rated radio time slots to potential clients. The lion's share of 96WEFM'S income is acquired from radio advertising, through B2C (Business-to-customers) commerce with companies interested in advertising their product by means of radio adverts.

Important information is stored on 96WEFM's IT infrastructure containing clients banking information, e.g. account numbers, banking codes as well as password used in wire transfers. If this information is jeopardised thousands even millions of dollars could be stolen from the station's client s or even 96WEFM. This affects the radio station credibility as a company and therefore sour business relationships between their clients and themselves, also effectively creating distaste among potential clients.

96WEFM's company records are also held within the company's IT infrastructure, these records are used in financial reports, payroll, employee reports, etc... If this information is lost or modified, a number of the company's business processes are ceased, stalled or even rendered undo-able.

The most detrimental scenario that could happen is the software that station uses for broadcasting is affected by computer viruses, e.g. resident or direct-action viruses. This could possibly mean the station is unable to broadcast which is the company's primary objective (luckily the company has measures in place to revert to its old analog system in case such scenario arises). Another way this can occur is by infection from a Boot Virus which prevents the radio station's computers from booting up.

96WEFM has licensing agreements with music artistes and COTT (Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago). Artistes premiere their music on the radio, i.e., 96WEFM has copyrighted music on their server, etc… If the music on the database is stolen the radio station can encounter legal problems or even ultimately their copyright license being revoked. Also if the music on the 96WEFM's servers is affected by viruses in such a scenario as deletion from overwrite viruses, music would've to be played via older, cumbersome technology, thus affecting the company's business model and strategy.

The CEO of 96WEFM as stated before is an advocate of latest technology and rightly has various DSS (Decision Support Systems) and EIS (Executive Information Systems) at his disposable, this aids him in day to day operations and steering the company's direction. These systems construct valuable information about the radio station market share, demographic, peak hours of programs, etc…. this information is then transferred into marketing catalogues to present to potential client interested on advertising on the radio station, it's fairly obvious that a calamitous sequence of events would occur if viruses maliciously infect and affect this software and the files created by the software what would happen. Thus, affecting the strategic role of the IS and the way IT is used as a competitive advantage.