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Chapter 9. Viruses, Trojan Horses, Hoaxe... > Computer Viruses and Trojan Horses

Computer Viruses and Trojan Horses

What are the computer equivalents to spies and saboteurs? Viruses and Trojan-horse programs. Before we go farther, here are some definitions you’ll need:

  • Computer virus: Stealthy software code designed to self-replicate and carry a payload. Might also be polymorphic.

  • Stealth, stealthy: Conscious effort to hide oneself from detection.

  • Self-replication: Capability to make copies of itself and infect other files or systems.

  • Payload: Code that makes the virus do something. Can be as simple as displaying a message or as bad as formatting your hard drive (if you aren’t protected).

  • Polymorphic: Capability of a virus to change itself as it infects different files or systems. Helps the virus remain stealthy.

  • Infection: When a virus becomes active on a system or attached to a file.

  • Trojan horse: Software that carries with it code that is not acknowledged or not for the stated purpose. Often used to break into systems for the first time or to install software a user would not typically install knowingly.

  • Worm: Software code designed to spread autonomously from system to system, usually without any user interaction.

  • Clean system: Has no virus infection in its files or memory.

  • “In the wild”: Describes a virus that has been reported as being on real systems in use at home or at a business.



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