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Effectiveness of Viruses in the Internet

A Term Paper Requirement


For
English F1-4R,






by
Mr. Paul Samuel S. Lacap

Professor Shirley Monreal


Internet, Viruses and Society
It all started as a military project to share military information, but today the internet which
stands for inter-network, is one of the greatest inventions of mankind that can connect
different kinds of people around the world. By using the internet, users will be updated on the
news, acquire knowledge, buy and sell products, and connect with each other. There is no strict
governance inside the world of the internet. It was originally used for academic purposes but
with the rapid growth of users, more commercial contents started to outnumber the
educational sites.
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In this modern age, almost everyone is capable to connect to the internet.
Such popularity will therefore attract malicious activities to manifest itself to this innovation.
Such activities are the use of the internet as a medium to further make the use of computer
viruses more effective thus, making the internet home to different kinds of viruses around the
world. So what are viruses? It is a malicious code that once it infects your computer, it can do
different kinds of things without your knowing. It can remain asleep in your computer until a
specific event happened that signals to activate the virus. Sometimes it will just do minor things
to a computer, but there are some dangerous ones that can destroy a computers data.
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The risk of being infected by a computer virus increases the moment when a user of a
computer started to connect to the internet. Computers that are connected to a network have
a high chance to be targeted by malicious activity because of their open-connection. In the
modern age today, more and more computers can connect to the internet. This gives hackers
more possible victims to target especially some computers due to some reasons are always
connected to the internet. Because of this, a computer that is always connected to the
internet has a higher risk of being targeted by hackers than those who are not. Why? It is
because hackers tend to scan the web and look for computers that are connected to the
internet.
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Scanning refers to software and equipment that methodically probes computers on
the internet for vulnerabilities.
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There are different kinds of scanners, the first one is the
vulnerability scanner, a program designed to quickly check computers on a network for known
weaknesses.
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The other one is called a sniffer, a program that captures passwords and other
data while the data is in transit either within the computer or between computers or routines
of the network.
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Hackers can only use infected computers for their advantages if it is turned
on and is always connected to the internet. Thus, logically hackers will tend to target computers
that have a very long connection time.
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A similar problem to the given statement above is the
use of wireless hotspots. Today, many public commercial building has a special service called
Wi-Fi or in laymans term, wireless internet, People can connect to the internet using this
technology to surf the web. All they need is a computer device that has a hardware which
enables it to connect to a wireless network. The problem about these wireless hotspots is that
most of the time it is connected to the internet, some are even connected 24/7 especially to
some specific stores and cafes. Such situation is similar to an always-on connection. Hackers
tend to scan wireless networks to search for their new victim.
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As you have read, most virus
creators do not just sit back and wait until someone downloads an infected file they uploaded
on the internet. They tend to search the internet to check for new victims so they can send
their malicious programs and data to victims computers.
Now, assuming a person has established a connection to the internet, that person now has
access to many features that the internet can give him, but the most popular features that are
being used by people are sharing of files, communication, and buying merchandise through
online transactions.
One of these popular features is file sharing; a person can just easily upload his/her files and
other data on the internet. The other feature is that he/she can download (to send an electric
document, software, or other computer file across a network)
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files and data to his/her
computer from the web. Since viruses are also a kind of data, they can travel by moving from
computer to computer hiding inside software programs. So every time a user downloads
something from the web, there is a chance that the file he downloaded contains a virus.
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In
some cases, when the virus infects a users computer, His/her files will also be infected as well,
thus when that user uploads his/her files on the internet, the files he/she uploaded will now
also contain a virus.
Aside from downloading, another popular feature of the internet is to connect with one
another. Most users of the internet use the internet to communicate with their relatives, this
activity made rise to Instant Messaging.
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The factor that instant messaging is so popular is in
its name Instant, it enables quick replies from the people using it. Almost anyone is using
these applications. Thus, such applications will attract virus writers and crackers. Virus creators
can send false links that advertises a product but in reality will lead them to download some
malicious data through this application. Aside from false links, virus creators use a virus called
Trojan horse, just like its name, a Trojan horse is a virus that attaches itself inside a useful
program. Trojan horses spread through the internet by putting them inside as e-mail
attachments inside an e-mail then spamming it to a large number of people. When someone
receives one of the infected e-mails and opens the attachment, the virus will also activate and
do harm to the computer.
Another kind of virus that uses the internet to greatly spread is worms; these malicious codes
are considered as an independent virus. It travels through the internet and propagate by itself.
When a computer is infected by a worm, the worm can do damage to a persons computer and
to its programs and functions.
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In 2011, the Code Red Worm infected over 350,000 servers on the internet in less than 14
hours. In 2003, the Sapphir/SQL Slammer worm spread worldwide in only 10 minutes, infecting
at least 75,000 systems in that time.
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Worms and Trojan horses use the internet to make it more effective and make it spread more
quickly. Some are easy to spot while others are inside the code of trusted program waiting for it
to be activated.
As stated in the texts above, the internet is home to many viruses, but why? One of the
primary reasons is because its like a doubled edge sword, it is something that can be useful to
society but can be harmful to it as well if used by the wrong hands. It is primarily use by virus
creators to spread their created computer viruses to the whole world just by uploading it to the
internet. Since viruses, travel from computer to computer, with the use of the internet, viruses
can travel great distances infecting computers from around the world.
Among the given viruses above, one of the most dangerous viruses that a person can
encounter on the web is called a botnet. It is a kind of malware that can control infected
computers to do the creators (bot herders) commands. It looks for vulnerabilities in a
computer system then exploits it and infects it with a malware. When a computer is infected,
the possible outcome is that something can be stolen and the infected information can
become a part of the bot-net (a network of infected computers controlled by bot-net herders
by sending specially coded messages.)
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Such activity of using computer for illegal purposes is called computer crime. Today, computer
crimes are becoming more frequent. A way of computer crime is to create, copy, or alter
official documents.
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An example of computer crime can be found in one of the reports in the
United States about a group of Milkwaukee teenagers used a packet switching network to
illegally gain access to a number of computers around the United States, they were able to find
passwords and log onto systems, in some cases damaging files. As you can see in the example,
a computer crime unlike any other crime can reach a global scale if not stopped.
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These kinds of activities make the internet a deadly place to an illiterate computer user, but why
do these kinds of illegal activities is increasing? Why only a few are caught and they are only
caught when a large amount of damage is done? This reason is because of a right called privacy.
It is the right of a person to choose whether to share or to limit sharing of his information,
especially personal, to another person.
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In todays time anyone has the rights to privacy but
unfortunately, even the malicious users: pornographers, hackers, and swindlers, has the right
as well. Thus, that is the reason why the victims privacy is violated while the offenders privacy
still remained.
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So as users of this great technology called the internet, we cannot just let cyber criminals take
advantage of our computers and connections. There are many ways for a person to defend
himself against computer crimes like scanning, viruses, and other malicious threats.
A simple solution to scanning is to install a firewall. A firewall is a security program that prevents
malicious programs such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses to enter a persons computer.
It can also prevent your computer from being scanned by probes made by hackers.
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It works by
preventing an IP-address (a code that is solely made for one computer and it represents the
address or unique identity of a computer that is connected to the internet) which may want to
send you any malicious data. A Firewall uses a list of IP numbers (a list of many IP addresses)
this listed numbers contains not only the IP addresses that is trusted by the router and allow it
to send data, but also the IP addresses of most malicious sites which it will block. Actually,
there are actually two kinds of firewall: a software firewall and a hardware firewall. A software
firewall is a security program that examines the data that goes in and out of a persons
computer. It blocks all the malicious programs and lets the safe data to go to a persons
computer,
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while a hardware firewall is a tangible device that has the same purpose of a
software firewall. The difference of the hardware firewall is it protects a network of computers
from malicious programs from the internet
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while a software firewall only protects the
computer where the firewall is installed.
However, Virus creators and hackers bypass this security measure by spoofing which means to
falsify ones identity, to pretend to be someone else, or to cover tracks.
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Firewalls protect a
computer by allowing data from a trusted host to enter while blocking those from malicious
host. The cracker will therefore trick the firewall by spoofing the source IP address of packets
sent to the firewall. If it succeed and it tricked the firewall that the file came from a trusted
source, then it will let the malicious file go to the computer.
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There is a way to counter spoofing; it is by using a Virtual Private Network or VPN. This program
performs a test to an incoming data to see whether the data is manipulated to some degree. If
the data was tampered or manipulated, the data will be rejected.
However, a firewall alone is not enough to defend our computers from viruses. The use of
trusted anti-virus software is recommended. These are kinds of security programs that can
detect malicious data in a program (viruses, Trojan horse, etc.) It will scan a file to see if there is
a virus so that it can delete or quarantine it to prevent future harm.
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It is always recommended
to regularly scan your computer to check if your computer is infected or not.
Infected files are not the only problems that can pose a threat to your computers, even safe
and trusted programs may contain a bug, vulnerability, or even an error in the code that can be
taken advantage by a virus creator. When the manufacturers of these programs discover these
vulnerabilities, they fix it and released the fixed version (update) to everyone who bought the
original product. Thus, it is always important to update your software especially antivirus
programs.
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Every month, more and more viruses are created. Only viruses that an antivirus will detect are
the ones that your anti-virus knows. Thankfully, anti-virus manufacturers are also releasing
updates that contain information about the latest viruses so that your anti-virus software can
detect the new viruses.
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When it comes to botnets, they can be prevented by a process called
blacklisting which means filtering internet traffic by blocking malicious IP addresses from its list
of dangerous IP addresses.
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When it comes to downloading a file, the chance of getting a virus increases if the site where
you downloaded the file is not popular, as much possible download a file in its official
manufacturers website, as the old saying goes dont accept candy from strangers.
Hoaxes and frauds are always abundant on the web, it impossible to not encounter one during
your long usage of the internet. But there are ways to minimize the receiving of such
messages. One way is as much as possible to prevent sharing your e-mail address to different
kinds of people especially strangers you just met on the web. If you share your e-mail address
to different kinds of persons, especially strangers, youll have a high risk of receiving e-mail
messages that contains spam, or worse, a deadly virus. E-mails that you might also get from
your friends might be contaminated by a Trojan horse because these viruses will try to
propagate to many users by a persons e-mail address contacts or an IRC channel. Always keep
in mind that it is quite rare to receive a file from a friend that you did not requested for, to be
sure if the e-mail is contaminated or not, always scan it with updated anti-virus software.
Lastly, we must know how to protect ourselves. Awareness is something that internet users
should have. Many users do not know that their computers are infected by a spyware (a kind of
malicious data) until serious damage is done. According to reports, only one out of seven
computers uses a firewall and about three uses up-to-date virus protection software.
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Users
of computers must be responsible. They must know the proper use of the computer to protect
themselves from danger. It can go to something as simple as choosing a right password.
Passwords are used to access confidential information or an account. If a cyber criminal
obtained your account information, including your password of your e-mail account, they can
now use your account to spam viruses like trojan horse, or worms to the persons in your
address book. Therefore such password for protecting ones information must be hard to guess
by others but easily remembered by the owner. One way of further increasing the effectiveness
of your password is to use not just letters but numbers, symbols and mixing small and capital
letters.
All in all its up to us to defend ourselves to such malicious programs. The internet is one of the
great inventions of mankind that changed the whole world. You can expect that a lot of illegal
activities will also take place. The internet has now become part of our everyday life, it makes
you feel like the whole world is just one click away, but such use of a great technology must
come with great responsibility. It is hard to know when will virus creators will do a scan or the
file a person is downloading contains a deadly virus. If one is not careful on the internet, he/she
might get tricked to share his/her personal information to a stranger. Persons stealing data and
information are also increasing in number. As I stated, the greatest asset a person can have is
his awareness. Aside from updating software, a user of the internet must also update himself. A
user must know if theres a new trend going on in the internet. As technology advances, new
and more deadly viruses are being created. In this generation, not only the youth but the aged
are using the internet. A way to raise awareness is to educate the people about computers and
internet literacy. So whenever a person is going to surf the web, he must keep in mind the
dangers of recklessness and deceitful information that he may encounter, and most of all, a
user must equip his/her computer with updated security programs that can remove such
malicious threats.
There are many kinds of unethical computer use, no matter what computer you use or how
much you know about technology there will always be problems but in these ways a person can
minimize the risk of being infected by a virus and at the same time fully optimize the usefulness
of the internet. Just like in real life, prevention is always better than cure, the concept applies to
computers, it is better to prevent your computer to being infected by a virus than searching for
a way to remove the virus when the damage is done.















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