Virus_Strains

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					Virus Strains

Word Count:
790

Summary:
It can fairly be said that Kama Sutra has a way of bringing things
together, but does this also apply to computer viruses? The Cyberiter
thinks so, and says it is time for someone to develop a dose of digital
penicillin.


Keywords:
computer virus, computer worm, virus names, virus classificaiton, Common
Malware Enumeration, CME, Homeland Security, Cyberiter


Article Body:
What we need is the Dewey Decimal System to go digital ...

Specifically, someone needs to coax their keepers into putting some
logical order into how computer viruses are sorted.

Recently, warnings abounded about the Kama Sutra   virus quickly
proliferating cyberspace, joining the Grew.A and   Nyxem.E as serious
threats to computer file security. However, only   those who took a closer
look at these strains were able to discover that   they all had something
in common.

They were virtually the same virus.

There is uniformity in the library world when it comes to catalogging the
millions of books contained therein, thanks to Dewey. The weather service
administrators do their bit for personnification by breathing a bit of
nefarious charm into the tropical storms they track by assigning them
names in alphabetical order each year. They key to both of these facts is
that someone devised a universal means of identifying something that
assists the general public in dealing with it.

The time is rapidly approaching when someone needs to step forward and
put some order into the villainous world of computer infections.

New viruses arise so suddenly and spread so quickly that those whose job
it is to seek and destroy them have little time to muse over what to name
them. With Kama Sutra, for instance, its file-destroying program seemed
to be spread by junk e-mail enticements to visit porn sites. The news
media ran with that theme and gave it a headline-grabbing handle; Kama
Sutra, of course, is the legendary lovemaking guide compiled to classify
the creativity of ancient Hindu hedonism.

Geeks, however, have their own perspective when they put a spin on
things. Just as banks need to have stately names, spyware apparently
needs to carry Matrix-like titles to make them appear darker, more
foreboding and a worthy challenge. After all, who amongst them would want
to quash the Kama Sutra? Wouldn't that confirm the geek image as a cyber-
eunuch?

Thus, titles like Grew.A and Nyxem.E are coined to look so much more
imposing and in need of professional assistance to eradicate.

F-Secure is a Finnish virus fighter and widely acclaimed to be one of the
best of its kind on the market. Their stature is such that when they
identify an intrusive program, others notice and accept the name they
give it. In this case, F-Secure saw the program shared code and
techniques with cetain file-destroying predecessors, so they went with
'Nyxem.E,' derived from the acronym for the New York Mercentile Exchange,
whose web site was targeted by the initial culprit.

Other vendors took note that this program destroyed files instead of
overloading websites with fake traffic. Using a logic known only to one
of the backroom gnomes in their employ, this meant that 'Grew.A' was the
most appropriate description. I can only think that asking for a
clarification for that decision would cause most of us as much of a
headache as trying to remove the program after it has hit our computers.

Anyway, in these trying times of terrorism alerts, if nobody else is
willing to tackle the task of virus classification, those rock-lifters
and cobweb-sweepers at the USA Department of Homeland Security are
prepared to step into the fray. They have devised a system of virus
naming through the Common Malware Enumeration, or CME. Outbreaks are
assigned a random number, which in this case turned out to be '24.'

We'll see if such a system captures teh public's imagination.

This is an important point, because if a unified virus identification
system is to be effective, it has to immediately raise a general
awareness so that the virus' spread can be better contained.

If nothing else, 'Kama Sutra' generated enough clicks to quickly spread
the word that a cyber-invader was on the prowl. Once named as such, a
program that had been circulating for weeks, but was set to destroy files
only on the third day of each month, finally came to the public's
attention. That gave vendors time to update their products and warn
customers.

Incidentally, this strain is known to corrupt documents using the most
common file types, including '.doc,' '.pdf' and '.zip.' It affects most
versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system, which caused them to
issue the most widely-heeded warning of the problem.

Given the recent animosity-filled anti-trust suit brought by the American
government against the software giant, it does seem like their efforts to
raise the awareness of this virus has necessitated that they become the
proverbial strange bedfellows.

It's only appropriate that something named Kama Sutra would bring them
together. It's inevitable that they would find themselves in this
position. The task now is for them --- and everyone else --- to agree
upon what to call it.

				
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