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 1.7 or later, preferably 1.8.0_20.
If you can’t see the prices in your local currency,
Troubleshoot. Use Chrome 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 in your machine that someone else gave you, unless it was
Boot track viruses
infect your hard disk when you
accidentally boot while an infected floppy 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 get infected.
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 are
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 it.
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
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 controllers.
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 manufacture.
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 first.
Run a nightly virus scan such as Norton Antivirus or Windows Security
Essentials (free) using freshly updated virus definitions. The most
dangerous and plentiful virsus are the brand new ones.
Don’t surf the web with Internet Explorer unless you disable ActiveX
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),
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 techo-savvy.
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
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 support:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and W8-64.
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
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 for you.
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.
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
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
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 serious problems:
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 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.