The CurrCon Java Applet displays prices on this
web page converted with today’s exchange rates into your local international currency,
e.g. Euros, US dollars, Canadian dollars, British Pounds, Indian Rupees…
CurrCon requires an up-to-date browser
and Java version 1.8, preferably 1.8.0_131.
If you can’t see the prices in your local currency,
Troubleshoot. Use Firefox for best results.
A computer program written by a bratty child or a terrorist whose intent is both vandalism and spreading
automatically to other computers.
Never put a floppy/CD/DVD in your machine that someone else gave you, unless it was shrink wrapped.
Don’t plug your portable devices into other people’s computers to charge.
Boot track viruses
infect your hard disk when you accidentally boot while an infected
floppy/CD is inserted. My launder utility will kill
any boot virus on a floppy, even ones that have not been written yet. My BootSave utility will restore your hard disk boot track that has been
infected. However, you must inoculate your disk (make a copy of the intact boot track) by using it before you
piggy back on exe files. They arrive most commonly as email attachments
or on floppy. Sometimes even files you download from websites are infected. They cause no damage until you
execute the corresponding file. You can do a directory list safely. You can insert an infected floppy safely
(subject to my earlier warning about the sneaky boot track viruses). Norton Antivirus or the McAfee Virus
Scan will check all the files on a floppy, all incoming email and all your hard disk files against a weekly
updated list of known viruses. The trouble is the kids make them up by the thousands and this technique is
defenseless against a brand new virus. Never execute a file that arrives by email, even if it comes
from a friend. These are most often infected.
These are the most dangerous of all because you can pick them up just
browsing the Internet. Turn off ActiveX and only turn it on when dealing with a site you are absolutely sure
is trustworthy. Turn off the autodownload feature as well. The CometCursor virus is the world’s first
commercial virus that spreads itself by this technique. It does no harm other than make your cursor look like
Nelson Mandela’s head, but it installs itself without your permission. It is very hard to kill once you
Worms manage to spread without actually attaching themselves to executable files.
They typically use the Swiss cheese security in Microsoft Outlook to spread themselves by sending email to
everyone in the address book. This can cause a chain reaction than can shut down the mail system, even of
those who have solid virus protection. Well-known people just get swamped by incoming garbage emails.
A virus that just puts up some silly message but does no damage.
is a virus that just does damage, but makes no special attempt to spread itself.
It may masquerade as a silly game, but will erase everything on your hard disk.
There are no known Java viruses, that piggyback on class or jar files, though
in theory they are possible. The Applet security system makes it impossible for virus to infect your system
via Java Applets you run in your browser. However, their is one called Reveton.N that exploits a hole int the Applet security. It took Oracle months to nail
There are some lesser viruses which can hide inside Microsoft word documents in
the form of autorun macros.
Some Estonians came up with a clever idea for a virus that has infected about 50% of
business machines. It inserts a fake DNS
server. So when you go to your bank, it takes you instead to a fake bank site, where you give your credentials.
If your DNS
stops working on 2012-07-09. That is when the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
takes down servers designed to keep infected machines running.
Stuxnet was a very sophisticated virus, presumably created by combined efforts of the American and Israeli
governments to sabotage the Iranian nuclear fuel concentration lab. It used multiple unreported
OS (Operating System)
vulnerabilities, costing about $100,000 each on the black market. It worked by
sabotaging the software that controlled centrifuges to make them spin so fast they damaged themselves. The
assumption is USB (Universal Serial Bus)
flash drives containing the software were dropped near the facility. Some idiot put one into a secure computer
looking for pornographic pictures. If the Iranians had known what was coming, they could have protected
themselves by putting the programming for the centrifuge controllers into ROM (Read Only Memory)
which could not be tampered with using viruses. To create such a virus the authors had to know what sort of
computers and operating system the Iranians were using. They also needed the operating manuals for the centrifuge
The Americans exploited detailed information of the Iranian equipment. In a similar way, the Chinese can
exploit their extremely detailed knowledge of US weapons systems, since they are the ones who do so much of the
I need to learn the following vocabulary:
Don’t open or run any email enclosures except *.gif, *.jpg, PDF (Portable Document Format), TXT, HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
EXE, COM (Component Object Model), BAT (Batch),
DOC and OCX (Object linking and embedding (OLE) Control extension)
are the most dangerous.
Avoid putting floppies or USB
flash drives from outside your shop into any of your machines. If you must, scan them with a virus checker
Run a nightly virus scan such as Norton Antivirus or Windows Security Essentials (free) using freshly
updated virus definitions. The most dangerous and plentiful viruses the brand new ones.
A good virus scanner should be mulit-thread for speed, but also let you choke it down so it puts light load on your system when
you are trying to use it.
Don’t surf the web with Internet Explorer unless you disable ActiveX first.
Don’t install software unless it comes from a reputable source. Avoid installing any software you
don’t absolutely need.
Make sure your Internet connection goes through a firewall.
Don’t let people use any of your machines who you can’t trust to follow these rules.
If you become infected, get help quickly from someone who knows what to do. If you don’t know what
you are doing, you can easily lose all your data and easily reinfect yourself. You must disinfect and/or
protect yourself from reinfection from every single floppy, CD (Compact Disc)
burned, backup tape, USB, SSD (Solid State Disk), ZIP drive…
Never click on a pop up that claims your computer has a virus.
Don’t click on links or attachments in e-mails even from people your know unless there are
Turn on your browser’s pop-up blocking feature.
Never download anti-virus software from a pop-up or link sent to you in an e-mail.
Turn off Java Applets unless you are visiting trusted site. This is a temporary security measure that
should soon be relaxed.
Free Anti-virus Software
Originally there were only three free Antiviruses, but now almost every company offers a stripped down free
version. Most companies now also offer a premium edition and an Internet edition (which is actually a firewall).
You have to read the websites carefully to discover the differences in features and price. Consider that reviews
might be talking about the super premium plus edition, where you are interviewing for the entry level one. I have
a long memory for companies that good or evil. I think these three original free vendors deserve continued
Microsoft Security Essentials. Free, comes with Windows. You can update it with new definitions about twice
a day. The catch is, this is the most common anti-viral program and so virus writers target it first. I have
never seen it compared against the competing commercial products. Real-time protection is very slow.
Microsoft Defender. Free, comes with older versions of Windows and In Windows 10.
Ad-Aware by Lavasoft. Comes in
three versions free,
per month (with firewall) and
a month. It tries to install a browser-ad. Just say no and say no to accepting the user agreement and it will
install anyway. The only this unusual about it is you can configure which of 16 sorts
of places viruses can hide you want to scan. It is the new kid on the block. I don’t see the point in the
product. We already have more than enough anti-virus scanners. We need something radically different that can
deal with unidentified viruses.
Symantec is fat and slow.
McAfee is fat and slow
F-prot is lean and mean and fast. It does not pester you
with popups. It costs
for the home version.
360 a free virus checker from China is so
bad, it should be considered malware.
Malware Bytes specialises in removing spyware,
though they also make an anti virus products. It costs
Alwil Avast. The home version is
free. You get it free for the first 60 days just by downloading, then you register
your email address to get it free for a further 12 months at a time. This is not explained anywhere. I found
out by emailing for clarification. It is comprehensive with a ridiculously complicated toggling user interface
designed like a child’s Transformer toy with secret compartments. I suggest downloading one of the more
adult skins which are a bit more intuitive. The company is Czech. Avast detects viruses and can sometimes
repair them. It has also has a checksum scheme to detect virus infection by unknown viruses. Avast has bigger
brothers. Avast is a bit braindamaged in that it scans the recycle bin for viruses finding infected files you
have already deleted. I have been unsuccessful at installing it on Vista, though it worked fine on
W2K and XP.
Alwil has ignored my emails.
Microsoft Security Essentials is
available free to use on Windows 7. Its updates come as part of the usual Windows 7 updates about twice a day.
You control it from the green tent icon in the hidden icons on the far right of the task bar.
Clam Antivirus and the ClamWin front end. It is run by a team of
unpaid volunteers who are rather impatient with anyone who does not understand and follow their undocumented
rules. Clam just finds viruses. It does not remove them. All you can do is delete infected files.
Kaspersky online. The offline version is
not free. The online version requires IE (Internet Explorer)
because it is an Active-X program. It quite thorough, reporting programs with security vulnerabilities as well
as actual malware. Unfortunately, it refuses to believe you when you tell it there is a false alarm. It insists
on blocking you any time you run or use that program in any way. Further, it insisted on fixing what it
considered my unwise use of Take Command even though I told it not to. The UN (United Nations)
hired Kaspersky, a Russian company, to track down the Flame virus, a highly sophisticated virus used for
international espionage. Kaspersky is big and slow.
BitDefender has a free version and
several pay versions. The free version has nothing to configure, not even the drives or when to run scans or
when to update definitions. It continuously scans in the background when the machine is idle. It can detect
unknown viruses. It monitors suspect programs in a sandbox to see if they misbehave. It seeks out rootkit
viruses. It searches out malware in HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) you
download. This is quite impressive for a free program. Make sure you ask it to do an initial scan as part of
the install or it will presume all is perfect to start. You must register so that they can send you ads for the
pay products. I had to get rid of it because it kept interfering with the Excelsior Jet install. Even when I
told it to exclude JetSetup.exe from blocking, when the file appeared again during the install, it treated it
as if it were a totally new file.
Microsoft has Defender bundled with Vista, W2008, W7-32, W7-64, W8-32, W8-64, W2012, W10-32 and W10-64. It is automatically and
frequently updated. I don’t know why it is not considered a proper anti-virus program.
Microsoft plans to release a free virus checker code named Morro. Perhaps it will
just be Defender ported to the older operating systems. This should save MS money on phone support. Much the way
vaccination works, it should greatly reduce incidence the of viruses by removing sources of infection.
In addition to a batch scan of the entire hard disk, a virus scanner will
often by default install all manner of continuously running protection including, Instant Messenger, email,
network, Outlook, P2P, web, and standard (check or every read/write/execute of disk). Viruses cannot hurt you
unless you execute them. So as long as you never run email enclosures and run a batch scan every once in a while
you should be OK. You might set up a scan on mail in and out since that is fairly low overhead and is the source
of most viruses. A standard check will slow your machine to a crawl and buys you little extra security. If you
download software, it would not hurt to scan it for viruses, though reputable download sites like Tucows do that
The current way of stopping viruses is incompetent. Its purpose is to force customers to keep paying over and
over for virus protection. It works analogously to an airport security system that checks the id of every
incoming person and looks it up in a databank of known terrorists. There are no inspections, no profiling, no
X-rays. There are no restrictions on terrorists getting into sensitive areas. Further, if a known terrorist wears
a disguise they can past the gate too. The way terrorists get into the database is to be caught red-handed
causing damage, then their twins or clones are also excluded. The lists are broadcast to other airports. The
terrorist organisations can easily defeat the system by sending new agents or old agents in disguise.
What could be do that would effectively stop viruses in their tracks?
The current way of stopping viruses is stupid. It requires identifying every possible virus, then looking
specifically for each one. This is like shutting the barn door after the horse has fled. Further, the brats can
invent new viruses faster than they can be found and identified. It is only a matter of time until someone uses
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
to manufacture millions of new viruses a day, which will overwhelm all the attempts at cataloging them. Virus
companies persist in this inept strategy because it locks in customers who need a new version of the software
daily. The torrent of new viruses means small companies cannot compete.
Viruses could be stopped in their tracks, including future viruses, simply by enforcing a rule that
all executables, including OS
modules, be digitally signed by their authors, the same way the Java Applets are. Then a virus can be detected
simply by verifying the digital signature. It is all but impossible for a virus to cook up a valid digital
signature for an executable it has modified. If vendors posted the originals, digitally signed, then any
contaminated modules could be automatically restored without human intervention. This would not stop Trojans, but
it does identify who created them, making prosecution and civil legal action easy. The problem is half-assed
anti-viral utilities that require constant updates are big business. They don’t want a solution that works
once and for all.
One interim solution would be to have disk partitions or SSDs (Solid State Disks)
that were read-only. You would put your executables and DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries)
there, (or rather installs would.) Access would be by password, good only for one install instance. They would
all have digital signatures, or at least digests, that would be checked on copying in. This would make it very
difficult for a virus to modify an executable. The problem is, it would require all vendors to digitally sign
executables and use the API (Application Programming Interface)
to install executables and other files on different drives. The most important vendor to comply would be
Microsoft, who currently puts all its data and executables on C:
You could institute a rule that an executable could only be updated by an install program digitally signed by
the same author. By default, files could not be updated except by a program digitally signed by the same author
as the program that created it. Programs would have to explicitly export files before programs written by other
authors could modify them.
PC (Personal Computer)
Pitstop PC Matic aka Supershield stops every unknown
executable, whether it carries a known virus or not. This is great for catching new unknown viruses, but has two
If you use unusual software, the sort that businesses use, rather than individuals and home offices, those
executables will not be on the white list and they will be stopped.
If you are a program developer, you may be creating hundreds of new executables, or variants on old
executables in a day. Supershield will stop them all. There is no mechanism to automatically mark them as safe
as part of the build process.