How Long Does It Take To Catch A Computer Virus?

Would you believe only 8 seconds?

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 1, 2007

2 Min Read

I just read an incredibly scary article on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website in the UK on Computer Viruses.

As described in this article, reformed ex-hacker, Jacques Erasmus, demonstrated just how dangerous things have gotten these days. Basically they took a Windows XP computer and connected the poor little scamp to the Internet without providing it with a firewall or any anti-virus software.

This brings to mind an image of staking a goat in the middle of a field and waiting for the wolves to come (or the dinosaurs in the case of the movie Jurassic Park). So how long did it take for the wolves (viruses) to attack? Days? Hours? Minutes?

In fact, after only 8 seconds, the unsuspecting little rascal was undergoing the machine equivalent of being turned into a "Pod person from the planet Mars!" First, it was hit by Sasser, one of the fastest spreading worms on the Internet. Then it started downloading strange programs from mysterious internet addresses. Then it started looking for other machines to infect.

Within five minutes, the little rapscallion was running so many malicious programs that it was running totally choked up and its CPU was 100% occupied performing virus-related tasks.

Personally, I think governments around the world should start taking this much more seriously than they appear to be doing. If someone gets caught embezzling say $100,000 from a company they go to jail. Now consider that the folks who release viruses can cause tens of millions of dollars in damages; affected companies can go bankrupt; people can lose their jobs; and the effects spread onwards and outwards.

But there's more to it than this, because virus creators are not making the world a better place. When someone loses their work to a virus, it makes them angry, frustrated, and unhappy. This ripples on to the folks they come into contact with. One way to view this is that the sum total of unhappiness around the world increases. This is not a good thing.

I'm on my high-horse at the moment. I think that if people who were caught creating viruses were jailed for say 10 years, then at a minimum it might discourage someone else from doing the same thing. And, apart from anything else, it would bring a smile to the lips of those of us who have lost months of work to one of these nefarious creations (I feel like the lion in the Wizard of Oz – "Let me at 'em, let me at 'em!").

Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at [email protected]). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.

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