Computer viruses can be a nightmare. Some can wipe out the information on a hard drive, tie up traffic on a computer network for hours, turn an innocent machine into a zombie and replicate and send themselves to other computers. If you've never had a machine fall victim to a computer virus, you may wonder what the fuss is about.
Am going to take a look at some of the top 10 worst computer viruses to cripple a computer system in history . Let's start with the love virus.
1. I Love You
They say you always hurt the ones you love. In 2000, this was taken to extremes when the ILoveYou virus caused $5.5bn in damages.
The concept was pretty simple: a user receives a file from a known email contact under the title 'LoveLetter' or 'ILoveYou'. When the attachment is opened, the virus is launched. After infecting the host, the virus then took control of the user's email program and sent the same 'ILoveYou' message to every user in the host's address book.
Love must have been in the air, because the virus was potent enough to infect some 10 per cent of internet-connected machines at its peak. At a time when many users were still trying to learn the finer points of the internet, ILoveYou was a major wakeup call to some of the dangers on the web.
Everybody wants to be loved and ILoveYou was brilliant social engineering. It helped that the virus was spammed out in the early days of internet use and there were a lot of newbies online who had only a vague idea about viruses and how dangerous they could be.
Email was a trusted format and, because the messages came from people the recipient actually knew, the likelihood of them being opened was much higher.
Things are different today, although there are still plenty of people who get caught by social engineering attacks, but ILoveYou makes it so high in the list because it was a brilliant piece of social engineering.
Just how much damage can a virus do? Well, take the Sasser worm as one example. This relatively simple little attack managed to cripple airlines, news agencies and even knocked out government systems.
Perhaps most frustrating, however, was that Sasser infection was very easy to prevent. The vulnerability which the attack exploited had been patched for months, and all users had to do was install the most recent security updates from Microsoft.
Sasser was a stark warning that has yet to be heard by many. Unpatched systems are still pervasive around the world, leaving users vulnerable to Sasser and countless other malware attacks that target patched vulnerabilities.
Ah yes, the old 'infect the host then resend to the entire address book' attack method. Like many other attacks, MyDoom used the tried-and-true practice of spreading through email and address books.
But MyDoom went a step further and targeted peer-to-peer networks. The worm not only spread itself through address books but through the shared folder of users who ran the Kazaa file sharing application.
While definitely skilled programmers, MyDoom's creators also seemed to be fans of good old-fashioned vigilante justice. One of the early tasks performed by infected users was to take part in a denial-of-service attack against SCO, the infamous software vendor that once tried to lay claim to the patents for Linux.
A week after the 11 September atrocities a new virus hit the internet in a big way. Nimda was one of the fastest propagating viruses in history, going from nowhere to become the most common virus online in 22 minutes, according to some reports.
The reason for this speed was that Nimda used every trick in the book to spread itself. It used email, open network shares, IIS vulnerabilities and even web sites to spread. It hit pretty much every version of Windows available and appeared all over the place.
In the paranoid days after the terrorist attack some speculated that this was a digital 11 September, and some security consultants got large speaking fees for suggesting just that. In fact, it was nothing of the sort and was just another attempt at large scale infection.
Melissa was created by David L. Smith in 1999 and is based on a Microsoft Word macro. He intended to spread the virus through e-mail messages. The virus prompts the recipient to open a document and by doing so the virus gets activated. The activated virus replicates itself and will be transferred to 50 persons whose address is present in the recipient’s e-mail address book. The virus was spread rapidly after it was unleashed by Smith. The increase in e-mail traffic due to the virus forced some companies to block e-mail programs until the virus attack was controlled.
Before Conficker came around and got everyone worked into a lather, Storm was the big bad botnet on the block. First appearing in early 2007 as a fake news video on European flooding, the Storm malware menaced users for more than a year.
The huge botnet was also influential for its continued use of social engineering tactics. The malware disguised itself as everything from video files to greeting cards, and attacks were continuously refreshed to coincide with holidays and current news events.
While Storm has since been eclipsed by newer botnets, the name still brings to mind one of the most menacing attacks seen in recent years.
The global catastrophe that wasn't, the third form of the Conficker attack provided nice theatrics but little in the way of actual damage.
The premise was pretty simple: Conficker.C would spread to as many machines as possible throughout March. Each infected machine was given a huge list of domains, one of which would be contacted by 1 April.
The deadline made all the difference. Now, Conficker wasn't just a simple malware infection, it was a 'ticking time bomb', and a looming menace that would unleash carnage. Or at least that's what the story turned into when unscrupulous security vendors and tech-newbie news outlets got hold of the story.
8. SQL Slammer/Sapphire SQL
Slammer/Sapphire virus caused a damage of more than $1 billion and the affected networks included Bank of America’s ATM service, Continental Airlines etc . A few minutes after the infection of the first Internet server, the number of victims of the Slammer virus doubled every few seconds. After Fifteen minutes of the first attack, half of the servers that act as the pillars of the Internet were affected by the virus.
The Slammer virus taught a valuable lesson: It's not enough to make sure you have the latest patches and antivirus software. Hackers will always look for a way to exploit any weakness, particularly if the vulnerability isn't widely known
Klez is a persistent little devil, and variants are still doing the rounds today, seven years after it first turned up.
The most common varient, Klez H, spoofs email addresses by randomly picking one from an infected machine before sending itself on to other users. This makes backtracing the identity of the infected machine particularly difficult, since any email stored for any reason can be used.
It exploits a vulnerability in Outlook that allows it to boot up automatically on unpatched systems. It's a cunning little devil but for all its ingenuity I still want to strangle the writer.
10. Elk Cloner
Elk Cloner was written by a 15-year old high school student called Rich Skrenta as a practical joke. Unfortunately for him the joke turned bad very quickly.
The virus was developed for the Apple II system and was a boot sector virus that spread via floppy discs. Apparently Skrenta was a fan of pirated games and would swap them with his friends, sometimes with little messages added. After one too many of these infected discs, he devised a way to alter discs automatically and the Elk Cloner virus was invented.
It had little in the way of a payload. Every 50th time a person booted an infected disc the software ran a little program on the computer screen, and that was it. Nevertheless it was a serious annoyance and was a harbinger of things to come.
Google today acquired ReCAPTCHA Inc., a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Science Department, has been acquired by Google Inc. The Pittsburgh company developed online puzzles that serve the dual purpose of protecting Web sites and digitizing printed text. The reCAPTCHA puzzles, which consist of words with distorted letters that computer users must decipher to register for services online or otherwise gain access to a Web site, began as a research project of Luis von Ahn, assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. ReCAPTCHAs were introduced in 2007 and are used by many leading Web sites. The company, ReCAPTCHA Inc., was founded by von Ahn in 2008.
Like similar CAPTCHA (Completely Automatic Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) puzzles, reCAPTCHAs distinguish human visitors to Web sites from automated intruders. But reCAPTCHAs are created using words from printed texts that current optical character recognition programs are incapable of reading. So when humans solve the puzzle, they also help digitize pre-computer-age books, newspapers and other printed materials.
"Google is the best fit for reCAPTCHA," von Ahn said. "From the very start, people often assumed the project was connected to Google, so it only makes sense that reCAPTCHA Inc. ultimately would find a home within Google."
Multiple ties exist between Google and Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, von Ahn noted. Many researchers from the two organizations collaborate with each other and Google's Pittsburgh engineering office is situated on Carnegie Mellon's campus. In 2006, Google licensed the ESP Game, an online game devised by von Ahn, for use as the Google Image Labeler.
Von Ahn will remain on the computer science faculty, but will also work at Google's Pittsburgh engineering office.
ReCAPTCHA Inc. is among the startups that have participated in Carnegie Mellon's Project Olympus, which provides advice, incubator space and investor connections to help faculty and students explore the commercial potential of their ideas.
About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon (www.cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the fine arts. More than 11,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon's main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, titled "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University," which aims to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements.
1. Avira Premium Security Suite 9
I often recommend Avira's free AntiVir virus scanner (www.free-av.com)—I especially like the fact that it offers a bootable rescue CD as a free download. Unfortunately, I didn't find quite as much to like in the full Avira Premium Security Suite 9. A significant bug in the on-demand malware scanner could leave users thinking malware was removed when in fact it was ignored,. Avira had a relatively low impact on system performance, coming in with the second smallest impact on two of my tests. But a default setting in its spam filter slowed e-mail downloading. I also have a problem with the suite's needlessly complex user interaction. I'm hoping for a complete makeover before the next version.
2. G data
G DATA AntiVirus 2009 (formerly AntiVirusKit) is a simple and effective antivirus solution. It’s a basic and easy-to-use product that actually does what it’s supposed to do: protect your computer. G DATA has been one of the best European antivirus software manufacturers for over 20 years, and continues to find new users worldwide with their simple and valuable security software. AntiVirus 2009 from G DATA is no exception, delivering new innovations that make virus protection software straightforward without sacrificing security.
3. ESET Smart Security 4.0
ESET Smart Security 4.0 keeps its performance impact low by including only the most essential security elements: firewall, antivirus, antispyware, and spam filter. It had the least impact of any suite on browsing and came in third or better (out of 16) on all but one performance test. The independent testing labs praise its antivirus component, but the firewall's program control is turned off by default. This version includes the option to (laboriously) create a bootable rescue CD. It also integrates ESET's extremely useful SysInspector diagnostic tool.
4. Kaspersky Internet Security 2009
Kaspersky Internet Security's new user interface hides messy security details but leaves them accessible to power users. The new application-filtering feature renders the suite smart enough to make its own decisions without hassling the user. As long as you don't plan to rely on it for spam filtering or parental control, Kasperksy's suite is a good choice.
5. BitDefender Internet Security 2009
BitDefender has added a ton of new features—online backup and remote configuration, for example. It includes all the expected security elements, with decent performance from most of them. It's a reasonable choice if you're excited by those extra features.
6.TrustPort PC Security 2009
The new consumer-side suite from enterprise security vendor TrustPort PC Security 2009 doesn't offer either the tough security protection or the unobtrusive, helpful interface that consumers have come to expect. The corporate version, managed by an IT department, might work just fine, but this consumer offering doesn't belong on your desktop.
7. F-Secure Internet Security 2009
F-Secure Internet Security 2009 is easy to use, without complicated settings and extras. But installing it was a nightmare, and it took too long deleting inactive malware. The firewall is old-fashioned, and the antispam and parental-control apps are ineffective. The suite hasn't kept up with the times.
8. McAfee Total Protection 2009
McAfee's latest suite has improved malware detection, and its spam filter is also much better. But its overabundance of features hasn't changed at all; its UI is sluggish; and it saps system performance.
Continues to offer security in two flavors, Norton Internet Security 2009 and Norton 360 version 3.0. This version of Norton 360 received the same rebuild from the ground up that Norton 2009 got last year, so its impact on performance is way down. In fact it had the least system drag of any tested suite in two categories despite the fact that it added some significant new abilities across many different components. For the most part, Norton 360 does its work in the background without hassling the user—I like that. Its parental control and antispam components are still weak, but an offer to install Norton Online Family (beta) in place of the regular parental control suggests that this will improve soon. My evaluation was marred by some seriously questionable practices on the part of Symantec's chat-based tech support; Symantec is in the process of addressing this problem. Nonetheless, we chose to award the security suite an Editors' Choice based on the merits of the software itself, because it's an otherwise excellent product.
10. ZoneAlarm Extreme Security
For a year now, Check Point Software has offered two very different types of protection: ZoneAlarm Internet Security 2009 and ZoneAlarm ForceField. With the new ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, Check Point combined the two into one comprehensive security package that includes the tough firewall, accurate spam filter, and unusual identity protection features from ZoneAlarm 2009. To that solid base it adds ForceField's unusual virtualization-based malware protection, and ices the cake with its backup and tune-up capabilities. That full-scale feature set puts ZoneAlarm Extreme in direct competition with Norton 360, and it generally fares well by comparison—except in performance. ZoneAlarm Extreme put a bit less drag on test systems than ZoneAlarm 2009 did, but quite a bit more than Norton 360. Even so, it's an equally good choice for comprehensive protection. It shares Editors' Choice honors with Norton 360 and Norton 2009.
Give us your views on what antivirus your using and how good is it.
It’s amazing how everything now is done online, that is shopping online. Shopping online offers lots of benefits that you and me won’t find in a supermarket, mall, store or by mail.
Online shopping is always active, open 24 hours/7days. This is really good and simplifies everything. However online shopping is not that safe as it is in stores, supermarkets or through mail.
The following tips are to help you as client or seller to ensure that you’re online shopping or selling experience is safe.
Firewall is one of the great features that can be incorporated in your system for analyzing incoming and outgoing traffic. Based on this, they are capable to take an appropriate action. Also, they can perform several conditional evaluations.
These conditional evaluations are also referred to as 'rules'. When a firewall is constructed, it is set with rules that will be strictly followed by it. For example, if the company policy demands that only the sales department will have the access to the FTP site, the firewall can be set accordingly.
So, even if any other department wants to access the site, it will not be possible. In this aspect, Firewalls are to networks what privilege schemes are to operating systems. For example, Windows XP will allow you to specify which users can access a directory or a file. In a similar way, firewalls can provide you with access control to your web sites or network work stations.
Some other features included in firewall are as follows:
a) Virtual Private Networking:
They are also referred to as VPN's. VPN's are used to move the traffic securely from point A to point B over the internet. it creates a tunnel between the points separating the private traffic from the public. There are many players both commercial and open source in the open market offering these services. Many firewall dedicated products offer both LAN-to-LAN and VPN functionalities.
b) Load Balancing:
It's more of a generic term and it refers to the art of moving the traffic in a distributed way. To minimize link congestion this done by routing traffic through two different tunnels they maybe from different internet service providers. These days, some firewalls products also incorporate certain features like directing FTP traffic and web in a distributed manner.
c) Content filtering:
Companies may want to block their employees from viewing certain websites like: underground sites, pornography sites, and web based emails to either reduce on the running costs in terms of bandwidth, maintainous costs etc Content filtering features in a firewall allows you to do just that. It blocks all the sites other than the specified ones.
d) Network Address Translation:
Firewalls allow you to bind one ip to hundreds allowing the outside world on the web to see your network as one it protects your internal users and servers from the web minimizing the hacker’s risk they are often used to map illegal address blocks to valid ones. NAT's are security related, devices that make use of them in corporate world are firewall products.
e) Intrusion Detection:
They detect unwanted attempts at accessing, manipulating, and/or disabling of computer systems, mainly through a network In general, this term could mean anything. But in this context, some manufacturers are beginning to combine different types of products into their firewall offering. Even though this in itself doesn't create a problem, users have to be a bit weary of the work load that might be imposed on their firewal
f) Fault tolerance:
Few higher end firewall products developed by companies like Nokia/Checkpoint combination and Cisco PIX support certain kind of fail-over features.
Fault tolerance features of firewall products are also referred to as High-Availability functionality. Advanced versions of fault tolerance features allow the firewalls to run in pairs. In this scenario, while one device is functioning, the other will act as a stand by.
Entertaining the thoughts of managing all these features in one single product, can be a daunting task. Hence, one has to approach it with a kitchen sink mentality and with a fair amount of skepticism. Let us not forget that they have a played a pivotal role in various security models of different organizations as well.