ITGS Syllabus

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Topic 121

social impact of global viruses by Simon

What is a GLOBAL virus?

In an effort to sabotage other people's computers, malevolent computer programmers (sometimes called hackers) create software that can manipulate or destroy another computer's programs or data. The most common of such malicious programs are called viruses. A computer virus infects, or secretly runs on, a computer to cause some mischief or damage. Viruses are not spontaneous; people called authors create them.

Computers are an essential part of everyday life. As a result, there is a huge potential for monetary gains by virus authors. With sophisticated techniques on the rise, it is becoming increasingly hard for the general user to identify or avoid malware infections. Trojan viruses, for example, represent one of the well-known viruses throughout the world. Another example, the "LOVE BUG" computer virus, spread faster than any of its biological analogues possibly could. Within hours of its release, presumably in the Philippines, it had raced around the globe to infect government, business and home software via a Microsoft e-mail program, and millions of dollars in damage had been done. Viruses such as trojan viruses and “LOVEBUG” computer viruses are considered as a global virus because the impact of the virus itself was severe and global.

All viruses entail a certain degree of damage, but their impact, with some very prominent exceptions, is mostly social. Basically, although subjective, many of the global viruses contain any code to change data or otherwise corrupt the systems it invaded, its self-replication flood many networks with an overload of traffic. The purpose of these viruses is that they attack for mass electronic destruction. The “authors” of these viruses either want recognition as an infamous virus creator, or somehow attack specific data for their own beneficial needs. However, the reason(s) behind for authors creating viruses are one of the social impacts caused by other computer viruses. To expand further, this means that the infamous viruses have enlightened other virus authors to create their own.

In the past, a media frenzy erupted in March of 1992 in anticipation of the Michelangelo virus. Anti-virus groups determined that this virus was scheduled to awaken on March 6th, the birthday of the famous artist, and destroy all data on any infected machine. John McAfee, found of the company that produces McAfee Antivirus, predicted that between 50,000 and 5 million computers might be infected. The media jumped on these issues, bringing the public to a near hysteria. In reality, only about 20,000 systems were affected, and each subsequent year the number dropped drastically. Michelangelo's greatest impact was the mass media attention it received, encouraging virus authors to continue their malicious endeavors.

As I have mentioned that viruses corrupt systems within the computer and network, the areas of impact that should be considered are social. Global virus can result in social damage. Such damage can include loss of reputation, scapegoating of the victims of a virus attack, or even legal action. A victim might be accused of failing to apply "due diligence," of being in breach of contract, or of being in contravention of data protection legislation. He might even be accused of implication in the dissemination of a virus, which is illegal in many countries (even those in which the actual creation of viruses is not in itself a crime). –I will discuss laws concerning viruses briefly after-

Global viruses can also be a strong force involved in the economy, specifically in the anti-virus program industry. The number of anti-virus products on the market began to rise around 1990, demonstrating that corporations were starting to respond to the growing public concern about viruses. In a more interesting perspective or as relevant, the second widespread stereotypical notion is that people who write anti-virus software also write viruses, in an attempt to drum up business for their products. However, there are no absolute certainties that no vendor or researcher has ever written a virus, released a virus, or even paid a bounty for samples of original viruses.

Laws concerning viruses are complex when the viruses become global(in terms of the impact). As having the adjective “global”, the virus can be infected worldwide concerning worldwide bystanders. The problem lies on the fact that it is “worldwide”. Since it is global, the laws concerning the viruses are not yet adapted in some countries, and the consequence for the authors of viruses may result in a subjective punishment. However, no hackers/authors do not want to get caught in U.S.A, as the punishment is severe – jail to 5-6 years.

The problems of global viruses can be solved in various ways. One way is that users of the internet should be more aware of the skilful techniques the authors execute to make the viruses going and learn to prevent it. Another way is to constantly update on one’s individual anti-virus program such as Norton or McAfee. Finally, as authors of the viruses being the obvious stakeholders, the complete discouragement of being a possible author of viruses should be diminished through education.


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