Amazing Kids! Magazine

Computer Viruses

By Sahil Nadkarni, age 11, California

 

Introduction:

Biological viruses can infect the human body. Similarly, viruses can infect computers too, but not the biological kind. Every year, many personal computers get infected, causing them to not operate effectively. Emails may get automatically sent to people sending the virus from computer to computer. Just like a contagious virus in humans, an epidemic sometimes spreads in computers. In the past whole networks and an entire COUNTRY has shut down and lived in the Stone Age for a while. These various computer viruses are man-made.

How do viruses work? What are they?

Biological viruses have been around for a couple billion years. But computer viruses have only been around for a couple of decades. They evolve and mutate to grow stronger. Actually computer hackers and online criminals upgrade them. 1949 was the first time somebody believed there could be “self-replicating (multiplying) programs”. In the 1960’s after Steve Jobs invented Apple 1 and Apple 2 computers, new codes were invented. So a really smart group of programmers, after much planning, created a game called Core Wars. This game multiplied itself and caused response lag and affected the computer’s memory. This was the first virus. Realizing what they had accidently done, they also invented the Reaper which ate Core Wars copies. These guys became famous. In 1966, the program MS-DOS was bustling. After careful study and finding glitches and weaknesses, someone in Pakistan created a code named Brain. It infected disks and disguised itself as something cool. That fooled MS-DOS. And Brain created the first Trojan horse. The world was shocked. After that people kept on creating codes for viruses. These viruses were all minor and did only a little damage. But in 1988 the Morris Worm came out. A plague broke out. In the computer world people probably thought it was the Apocalypse. Over 6,000 computers got infected and some were permanently damaged. The first worm was created. Morris Worm is still infamous. This virus was created by several people. Most were caught. Others were not. The first macro-viruses were developed in 1995. Criminals tricked programmers and built the virus in the software like Microsoft Office or something else. An epidemic named MichaelAngelo broke out. It was bad. When email was invented, hackers had a new way to introduce a virus and the 1999 Melissa came around. It e-mailed itself to millions of computers around the world. Many countries shut down!! From that day, viruses have been terrifying owners of computers.

Many forms of Viruses:

A macro virus is a set of codes that controls options like new documents. It is common in Microsoft Office and Google drive. A macro virus cannot run on its own. To get aid, it tricks the program and gets itself past the Authorized Personnel Only part of code. There it attacks the macro code and targets the code’s head. When a user clicks something like change font, the virus makes code run it and it changes things and does whatever it wants. For example if you make the font 6 it might change it to 12 and give weird boundaries. It also might auto type. It will multiply and even get access to your personal files and share your passwords. It sends emails to your contacts hiding a clone inside each one. When that person opens it, the virus infects them too. Macro viruses delete stored data and important documents. This virus is smart. It sometimes escapes anti-virus and stays dormant for a while. Melissa and Concept are both macro-viruses. Macro-viruses are one of the most deadly types of viruses.

There are many types of viruses. Of course you know macro viruses. But there also are overwrite viruses which are suicide deleters. They infect several files and keep on deleting and deleting until almost nothing is left. At this point it is exhausted and dies out. Overwrite viruses include Way, Trivial.88-D., Trj;Reboot and more. Trojan horse viruses are tricksters. When the Greeks invaded Troy, they hid in a horse and jumped out in the capital city when Trojans got the horse in. Just like that a Trojan horse will come to a computer screen as a cool ad or a lottery. When you get lured to open it, the soldiers jump out, overwhelming the mighty software army causing them to lose. After infection, you will crash and have a blue screen, files will be automatically downloaded, files will be deleted, monitors will be auto controlled, pictures will appear on screen, the virus will send messages to you saying stuff like hahahaha, and your bank money will be raided by the virus online. That is a creepy virus. A worm is another virus. This is a quick grower. A worm virus multiplies in seconds! It causes a corrupted hard drive and files will suddenly be encrypted. Jerusalem is a deadly one. It only activates on Friday the 13th. Only on that day, the Jerusalem virus flushes through the Internet in large numbers ambushing the program DOS. Numbers destroy the code and it has a large population unlike any other. The virus increases the bytes so fast and so quickly that it becomes so big and your computer is not able to store memory ever again unless fixed, but that usually costs a lot of money. Some viruses come from hardware disguising itself as binary-like disks and chips. That leads them to affect everything. This virus gains full control over the computer. GPU’s are Graphic Processing Units, the master of graphics. It can change pictures in seconds and show you how something looks. GPU’s get corrupted and the virus changes wallpaper, the layout of the screen, and make graphics blurry or pixely. This happens very rarely but it does happen. Viruses may also cause weird disk ejections, printing of wrong things, or BURNING of some chips!! 99% of viruses though are software ones.

Are they natural or man-made?

Viruses that spread diseases are mostly natural. Sometimes they are government created but most of them are just around. Not for computer viruses. Every computer virus is 100% man-made. Intelligent people sit at home and create codes to harm other people. It sometimes takes months to create. After it is ready, they have to sneakily get it past all the virus safety precautions on the Internet. Mostly viruses get disguised by their creator. The virus has a long journey, seeing amazing stuff, marveling at all binary. Finally it gets to random computers over the Internet and does horrible things plus multiplies itself. Viruses clear a path for hacking. Creators can get in serious trouble like imprisonment and high fees. People get locked up by the federal government in maximum security for 50 years or more. It is a serious crime. Because of the damage done by viruses, anti-viruses and defenders were created. They have been around since the first virus was created. When you open an anti-virus system, it tells you what virus has invaded you. Every virus’ “DNA” is different from what it is disguising. An anti-virus has a copy of what it should be and can easily detect minor flaws. Plus, it can scan and “X-ray” every line of code. It filters all code and the virus does not go through the filter. Trapped viruses get instantly killed. Anti-virus routines are useful.

To conclude:

Viruses affect computers just like the human body. Melisa, a computer virus, is technologically spreading fast. Viruses corrupt files and multiply. Just like a cold, viruses are contagious and spread to other computers. Computer viruses are people created but they may be stopped with anti-virus and defender routines. We can control virus problems by knowing how they work and the methods to stop them.