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Infection Vectors Print E-mail
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Source: securityfocus.com - Posted by Vincenzo Ciaglia   
Security The other day I was browsing through the top virus threats for February and March 2005, looking at the assorted nastiness, when a funny thought occurred to me: is it possible to pick a favorite virus (or virus family)? I think it is. We can look at their innovations and evolution with a source of envy, even if we universally despise them all. All viruses are malicious, nasty little programs written by misguided people. In my book, they are all manifestations of bad intentions by programmers who are well on the road to becoming evil. However... The best viruses are the ones that infect without any human error or intervention at all. And most interesting to me are the ones that innovate with new infection vectors.


The best viruses are the ones that use new, novel propagation techniques that really work. Forget social engineering. Yes it still works, and yes it will always work, but it's also an excruciatingly boring way to target only the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. Just because a new virus variant was able to trick my Aunt Fern into clicking on it doesn't mean it's novel, innovative, or even interesting. I can tell my Aunt Fern a thousand times not to click on that attachment, and mark my words: one day, she's not going to click on it. Her action sets the virus in motion. Click, infection. Action, reaction. These are topics that she can conceptually understand.

Viruses that spread without human intervention are called worms, of course. These are a little harder to explain to the public at large. But worms have been having a tougher time lately, as personal firewalls become more commonplace (think XP SP2), home routers become the norm, and most Windows systems have automatic updates turned on. Old worms continue to crawl the Internet, infecting and reinfecting a few million unpatched machines, but the fact is that there hasn't been a major outbreak in quite some time. A long time ago I tried to explain the concept of a worm to my Aunt Fern, and even when she stopped squirming, I'm not sure if she was able to understand.

Read this full article at securityfocus.com

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