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Malicious Code


Malicious code includes all and any programs (including macros and scripts) which are deliberately coded in order to cause an unexpected (and usually, unwanted) event on a user's PC. However, whereas anti virus definitions ('vaccines') are released weekly or monthly, they operate retrospectively. In other words, someone's PC has to become infected with the virus before the anti-virus definition can be developed. In May 2000, when the 'Love Bug' was discovered, although the Anti Virus vendors worked around the clock, the virus had already infected tens of thousands of organisations around the world, before the vaccine became available.

However, this may not be fast enough to prevent your PC from becoming infected with a virus that was delivered to your PC whilst you were innocently browsing a new Web site.

In June 2000 it was further revealed that a new type of attack was possible; called the 'No-Click' Stealth Bomb Attack. Such attacks use HTML, the code used for Web sites and, within this code, the pay load is then executed. The threat is that HTML is not only found on Web sites but can also be used to format and present the text of an e-mail. This means that simply opening an e-mail encoded in HTML, could deliver its pay load with no user intervention at all.

The solution is to run both a top rate anti-virus program and also a malicious code detection system which is able to constantly monitor the behaviour of downloaded "content" (e.g. a "harmless" page from a Web site) including executable files (.exe), scripts, ActiveX and Java. Such solutions can either run on individual PCs and workstations or from a central server.

See Compressors and Packers

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