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The Ultimate Computer Virus

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posted on Dec, 13 2005 @ 11:33 PM
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One day this virus will be created - and when it is, it will quickly overwhelm the world.

The concept is this,

Create a generic computer virus for a simple program. The virus must be able to "self replicate" - in other words, it will make copies of its own code using computer resources.

Now, insert code that makes it so that every time the virus makes a copy of itself, one bit in the code is changed (either changed from a 0 to a 1, a 1 to a 0, creates a 1, creates a 0, removes a 1, or removes a 0).

Let the virus loose.


Most of the virus' copies will be inert. Some will be unchanged and probably will act almost completely normally. Some select few... will be better than the original. This will occur naturally, by freak chance.

This, better virus will then create copies of itself, which are either inert, worse, or better still.

As you can see, this is a completely random electronic evolutionary virus (call it a REV for short). Since the virus will mutate at a rate far superior to anything on earth (even faster than bacteria), the pace of evolution will far exceed anything. New viruses will be created totally independant of human will. A virus may come forth with new properties that have never even been imagined... maybe even complex patterns of viruses that work in tandem, like a multi-cellular creature.

In a very real sense... where would the evolution of this virus take it?

(By the way, I have no skills in computer science beyond fading memories of an out of date Visual Basic program - I could not create said virus even if I tried - and I do not know if the creation of such a virus is even possible)

-Yarium




posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 01:22 AM
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This type of evolution happens anyways due to the nature of bits. However, most of it is caught by parity and EEC. What you describe has been done, and it doesnt really work all that well, as many of the copies will be caught simply as unknown or heurisitically looking virus. I doubt it would ever become something that could overwhelm a hardcore protection system, or even harm a computer by randomly evolving.

I dont have any formal programming knowledge, but I'd dissambled viruses for kicks and giggles and their simple, but creative. The big ones seem to get caught easy too.



posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 03:54 AM
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Well, I wouldn't say it's completely impossible, but that is basically how many viruses already work. The change their own signatures. Viruses employ signatures by which they identify themselves to themselves and thereby avoid corrupting their own code. Standard viruses, including most macro viruses, use character-based signatures. More complex viruses, such as polymorphic viruses, use algorithmic signatures. The latter is the type of virus you are referring to. From time to time the world is shook by some of these viruses, but we recover sooner than later.

The problem is (for the viruses) that they need to be some sort of executable program. Because of our past mistakes very few mail servers allow executables (or other possibly harmful files) through, and the same goes for routers and firewalls that keeps a watch out for possible virus activity.

The type of virus that would really be able to do what you're talking about would have to be highly intelligent and pick up any possible vulnerabilities on a system or even network, and write a whole new virus which is a copy of himself with a different signature that uses the vulnerability to spread itself. Luckily (if you look at it from this point of view) we don't have that kind of artificial intelligence yet.



posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 04:07 AM
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It sounds a bit like the plot to a book called "Jennifer Government". It's a good read.


from Gemwolf
Luckily (if you look at it from this point of view) we don't have that kind of artificial intelligence yet.


What he/she said.

I thought the ultimate computer virus would be one that spread to humans.



posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 08:10 AM
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Computer viruses are bunk. They exist, but they are of no consequence, now that Firewalls are stopping most of the very nasty viruses from breaking through the defense. Not to mention hackers who "claim" to hack the system. It's baloney. No serious damage has ever been done by any computer virus ever. Remember the Millenium Bug?



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 12:17 AM
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Originally posted by MacDonagh
Computer viruses are bunk. They exist, but they are of no consequence, now that Firewalls are stopping most of the very nasty viruses from breaking through the defense. Not to mention hackers who "claim" to hack the system. It's baloney. No serious damage has ever been done by any computer virus ever. Remember the Millenium Bug?


I hear you, but I don't think you can compare the millennium bug with "normal" viruses. It's well in league with the Michelangelo virus.
I can assure you that the damages computer viruses cause are very much real. Sure the damage is never permanent or a complete loss of a pc (in most cases), but I've spent many consecutive days trying to restore networks that fell under virus attacks. The consequences are more in the direction of productivity loss than anything else.

But you're right about one thing. Hackers have a much harder job than they had 10 years ago. Only the best of the best can call themselves hackers these days.



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 12:48 AM
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The virus you described would be great for quite literally crashing a computer and possible killing the hard drive in the process, but it would be hard to spread (if that's your goal of 'ultimate' virus).

Everytime the virus reproduces itself (as you noted), it changes one bit of code and then, in itself and it's own programming, would reproduce itself. Eventually, 2 things will happen. The virus will cease to exist since it reproduced and changed itself so much that it's completely illegible to itself. Or, the virus will reproduce so much and so fast, that the each additional virus in itself reproducing would overwhelm the computer, quite literally using every single bit of resource until the system blacklines.

So if you idea of a Ultimate Virus is a complete system crash on one specific computer.. yeah. If the Ultimate Virus is indeed a virus, then it has to have a means of transportation and infection.. and a timer or 'packet' that activates it well after infection.

The best designed virus in the world was the Michaelangelo Virus. Every year, for many years, it would activate itself on a specific time and date and reinfect the computer year after year. (Atleast until Norton and McAfee stepped in).

Plant your virus and activate it on a specific date well in the future, and crash every computer infected on the same date and time.. then I'll be impressed.

We're venturing into "illegal" discussion here, so I'm gonna take a step back and see where this post goes ;p



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:19 AM
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Informed post!
I was thinking about this since my first post, and came to the same conclusion that such a virus would ultimately destroy itself.


Originally posted by QuietSoul
The best designed virus in the world was the Michaelangelo Virus. Every year, for many years, it would activate itself on a specific time and date and reinfect the computer year after year. (Atleast until Norton and McAfee stepped in).

This is the only part you didn't get 100% for. The Michaelangelo Virus was in the same league as the Millenium bug, as I said above. It was all media hysteria. The first year (1991) the virus was discovered, the media heard some rumours and spoke to some "self-imposed experts" and went with it. Some Anti-virus manufacturers, like John McAfee saw the opportunity, and went with it to sell their software. In the end a total of 10,000 - 20,000 were infected compared to a 5 million predicted.

Experts who predicted in the thousands point to data showing Michelangelo never had a big foothold -- it just had big publicity. They believe fear about the virus created numerous "false reports" when users panicked at the first sign of an odd computer behavior. The experts do have a point: panicky users often inflict damage on their computers and then blame it on a virus.

Since then not a single PC was damaged by the virus (unless you were a complete idiot) according to the anti-virus companies.

Simply put Michelangelo will destroy exactly 8,912,896 bytes on your hard disk, overwriting them with NUL bytes. Once it strikes, THOSE bytes are lost and gone forever. BUT. . . . ., all the rest is undisturbed. Precisely (and technically), Michelangelo will overwrite the first 17 sectors on the first 4 heads of the first 256 cylinder on your hard disk. Of course, that will wipe out your partition table, the Boot Sector and the first 16 sector of FAT1 in your first partition (for most that will read 'Drive "C"'), and make you think your hard drive has failed (can we spell 'CRASHED', boys and girls?). but most of your data will survive, although it may take the skills of the data recovery specialist to get it back.

The Michealangelo Hype

Michelangelo Virus Hysteria Syndrome

And that's the problem with setting a future date... IF it's detected then it can be stopped in time. BUT if you get to spread your virus to every single PC in the world and set it off on a certain date... Back to basics, so to speak.



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:23 AM
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Interesting - I never thought that it would self-reproduce so fast that it would end up destroying itself.

However, continuing hypotheticals (since you guys seem to really know your stuff and I... well.. don't), what would happen if the "ultimate" virus was based on a worm virus? If the original worm was modified to include the virus with it, or the worm was given the ability to change its own code, what then?



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:33 AM
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Originally posted by Yarium
However, continuing hypotheticals (since you guys seem to really know your stuff and I... well.. don't), what would happen if the "ultimate" virus was based on a worm virus? If the original worm was modified to include the virus with it, or the worm was given the ability to change its own code, what then?


Well not to be too technical a worm and a virus is more or less the same thing with the same capabilities

A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program, similar to a computer virus. A virus attaches itself to, and becomes part of, another executable program; however, a worm is self-contained and does not need to be part of another program to propagate itself. They are often designed to exploit the file transmission capabilities found on many computers. (Wiki)

In computer security technology, a virus is a self-replicating program that spreads by inserting copies of itself into other executable code or documents (for a complete definition: see below). Thus, a computer virus behaves in a way similar to a biological virus, which spreads by inserting itself into living cells. (Wiki)

Thus in the end the results or possibilites are the same if the "ultimate virus" were a worm containing a virus.



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:37 AM
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Ah, sorry, I wasn't specific enough I guess (I really did not know that difference between viruses and worms... the more you know!). When I said "worm" I meant the e-mail worms. The ones that you open them, and they send copies of themselves to everyone in your "friends" list. If this were piggy-backed as it were by the actual worm/virus, what then?

(I'm really enjoying finding out more about viruses and worms and whatnot! please keep replying!)



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:39 AM
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Originally posted by Yarium
Interesting - I never thought that it would self-reproduce so fast that it would end up destroying itself.

However, continuing hypotheticals (since you guys seem to really know your stuff and I... well.. don't), what would happen if the "ultimate" virus was based on a worm virus? If the original worm was modified to include the virus with it, or the worm was given the ability to change its own code, what then?


Thanks for the Michaelangelo buff, I only breifly read into it back in the day ;p

Your virus as a whole is quite like a worm. Worms are designed to change itself the deeper they dive into the "realm" of levels of security of a computer. The only difference is that a true worm changes itself in a programmed method, whereas, your virus changes only a minute trigger or switch. If a worm was programmed to acheive a certain foothold, then change its composure or detection once it reached that point, without somehow leaving behind a clue, or direct programming of what that 'change' was, then it'd truly be an Ultimate Virus. Because it would have virus breakers chasing it for weeks/months after initial detection.

This is why the Sony CD Hack exploit was so serious. If it wasn't discovered when it was, and discovered by some schmoe with a nasty virus like this, then we'd all be looking at a complete format.

The problem with changing code, in any programming language, is that the programmer has to literally state somewhere in the mess of code what that change will be. Hence, if the virus base is discovered, programmers and antivirus geeks could literally backtrack the virus' path to it's origins and completely neutralize it.


And the biggest hurdle of all, in the hypothetical creation of an Ultimate Virus, is the hurdle of a complete backup restore or Format. No virus can survive a format unless it somehow undetectably attaches itself to the BIOS.. which is damn near impossible to do these days.


BTW, I am in no means a virus guru, or even that computer savvy to program my own.. I'm just riding on my gut feelings into what I do know about most Window's based computer systems and the variety of security levels and flaws.



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:43 AM
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Really!?! Wow. I have a whole new respect for people that are able to program something so subtle, and so complex, yet also be so simple.

Too bad they're not working on useful programs to help people.



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:51 AM
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Originally posted by Yarium
Too bad they're not working on useful programs to help people.


Actually most are. Or probably are.

Most viruses are created to make a point, or prove a egotistical battle. Virus writers know how exposed our computers are. And the scary part of it, if they really wanted to, they could probably easily take down a good 2/3's of the internet temporarily if they joined hands and spread a slew of viruses via hijacked spam email lists.

The whole spam list thing is deep on it's own. And if the spam network is ever compromised by a skilled hacking group, they could send a whole slew of disguised email viruses without it ever being tracked back to them.

This very reason is why I think the net's geeks hold back, and just unleash reletively harmless viruses, worms, and trojans. They don't want to crash the system.. unless they have to.

Don't piss off the geeks is what used to be mummble in my College computer classes when a student would change some guy's grades and put him through a few weeks of trouble getting them changed back.


I majored in the micro chips, so I was always the one egging the programmer geeks on



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 01:59 AM
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Originally posted by QuietSoul
BTW, I am in no means a virus guru, or even that computer savvy to program my own.. I'm just riding on my gut feelings into what I do know about most Window's based computer systems and the variety of security levels and flaws.

Well I'm impressed! For someone who claims to know little you are quite informed compared to some "IT specialists" I know!
Some gut feelings you got there!


Originally posted by Yarium
Really!?! Wow. I have a whole new respect for people that are able to program something so subtle, and so complex, yet also be so simple.

Too bad they're not working on useful programs to help people.

Actually it's really not that hard. All you need is some very basic programming skills, some knowledge about operating systems and some gullable systems.

Actually (while we're handing out interesting tit-bits), US student Fred Cohen was behind the first documented virus that was created as an experiment in computer security.

Mr Cohen created his first virus when studying for a PhD at the University of Southern California.

Others had written about the potential for creating pernicious programs but Mr Cohen was the first to demonstrate a working example.

In the paper describing his work he defined a virus as "a program that can 'infect' other programs by modifying them to include a ... version of itself".

Mr Cohen added his virus to a graphics program called VD that was written for a make of mini-computer called a Vax.

The virus hid inside VD and used the permissions users had to look at other parts of the Vax computer to spread around the system.

In all the tests carried out by Mr Cohen the virus managed to grab the right to reach any part of the system in less than an hour. The fastest time was five minutes.

The first of these is widely acknowledged to be the "Brain" virus that emerged in 1986 from Pakistan and was, apparently, written to help its creators monitor piracy of their computer programs.

So, you see that the original purpose was to protect your PC, not destroy it. There's some rumours that the US military were the first to impliment viruses to protect their ystems, but that's "top secret" so we'll never know, will we?


There really isn't a point to viruses. Some do it just to create "the ultimate virus", sort of like a challenge. Others to point out security weaknesses in operating systems (in other words a big "Up yours Bill Gates!"...)


[Edit: Oops!]

[edit on 15-12-2005 by Gemwolf]



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 02:49 AM
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Originally posted by Gemwolf

Well I'm impressed! For someone who claims to know little you are quite informed compared to some "IT specialists" I know!
Some gut feelings you got there!


I'm not sure if thats a jab or an actual pat on the back.. sarcasim doesnt travel well over the internet ;p

Like I said, I'm no expert in the virus field, I'm more or less rambling about how I think they work with my known (and completely different) engineering field.



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 02:54 AM
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Originally posted by QuietSoul

Originally posted by Gemwolf

Well I'm impressed! For someone who claims to know little you are quite informed compared to some "IT specialists" I know!
Some gut feelings you got there!


I'm not sure if thats a jab or an actual pat on the back.. sarcasim doesnt travel well over the internet ;p

LoL! No, I was dead serious! No sarcasm. Real pat on the back!



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 11:45 PM
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If you add or take out a bit from a virus (program) it will crash. It is not living. A computer program is nothing more than a list of instructions to turn on and off little tiny switches. IF however a program was made to replicate its base code and change or add something to itslef then this would be plausable. But it could not add or take away random bits, it would need to have some base code. But its a very interesting concept. This would also make itself invisible to anit virus programs too, being that it is diffrent every time.



posted on Dec, 17 2005 @ 07:08 AM
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beeing so scared of viruses just shows us how dependant we are on computers for just about everything





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