Computer Viruses: Winnowing Fact from Fiction

Computer Viruses: Winnowing Fact from Fiction

Stu Westin
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-930708-42-6.ch014
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It would be difficult to find a veteran end user who is unwilling to share at least one “war story” concerning a computer virus. Viruses are, and undoubtedly will continue to be, a fact of life in the end user computing community. Many tales of bouts with computer viruses contain a good measure of embellishment, and many computer mishaps attributed to viruses are truly due to “pilot error.” Regardless of these facts, computer viruses are a problem worth addressing. This paper considers the past and current status of computer viruses and “defensive computing,” and the degree to which the situation has been clouded by hype, misinformation, and misunderstanding. While the coining of the term computer virus is attributable to Fred Cohen in conjunction with his 1983 academic research on a DEC VAX platform (Cobb, 1998), the phenomenon and did not become a concern to users of application systems until almost ten years later. In 1987, occurrences first appeared in several universities, and shortly thereafter in corporate settings. In today’s environment, the computer virus threat clearly impacts every computer user in one way or another. The degree of impact is not as clear, however.

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