Virus damage estimated at $55 billion in 2003. “SINGAPORE – Trend Micro Inc, the world’s third-largest anti-virus software maker, said Friday that computer virus attacks cost global businesses an estimated $55 billion in damages in 2003, a sum that would rise this year. Companies lost roughly $20 billion to $30 billion in 2002 from the virus attacks, up from about $13 billion in 2001, according to various industry estimates.” This was the story across thousands of news agencies desk January 2004. Out of $55 billion, how much did it cost your company? How much did it cost someone you know?
I. The Why
There is an average of 10-20 viruses released every day. Very few of these viruses actually make ?Wild? stage. Viruses are designed to take advantage of security flaws in software or operating systems. These flaws can be as blatant as Microsoft Windows NetBIOS shares to exploits using buffer overflows. Buffer overflows happen when an attacker sends responses to a program longer then what is expected. If the victim software is not designed well, then the attacker can overwrite the memory allocated to the software and execute malicious code.
People make viruses for various reasons. These reasons range from political to financial to notoriety to hacking tools to plain malicious intent.
Political: Mydoom is a good example of a virus that was spread with a political agenda. The two targets of this virus were Microsoft and The SCO Group. The SCO Group claims that they own a large portion of the Linux source code threatened to sue everyone using Linux operating systems (with “stolen” programming source). The virus was very effective knocking down SCO’s website. However, Microsoft had enough time to prepare for the second attack and efficiently sidestepped disaster.
Financial: Some virus writers are hired by other parties to either leach financial data from a competitor or make the competitor look bad in the public eye. Industrial espionage is a high risk/high payout field that can land a person in prison for life.
Notoriety: There are some that write viruses for the sole purpose of getting their name out. This is great when the virus writers are script kiddies because this helps the authorities track them down. There are several famous viruses that have the author’s email in the source code or open script
Hacking Hackers sometimes write controlled viruses to assist in the access of a remote computer. They will add a payload to the virus such as a Trojan horse to allow easy access into the victims system.
Malious: These are the people that are the most dangerous.
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These are the blackhat hackers that code viruses for the sole intention of destroying networks and systems without prejudice. They get high on seeing the utter destruction of their creation, and are very rarely script kiddies.
Many of the viruses that are written and released are viruses altered by script kiddies. These viruses are known as generations of the original virus and are very rarely altered enough to be noticeable from the original. This stems back to the fact that script kiddies do not understand what the original code does and only alters what they recognize (file extension or victim’s website). This lack of knowledge makes script kiddies very dangerous.