[photopress:virus.gif,full,alignright]It all depends what you mean by virus. Companies that sell anti-virus software have a natural tendency to call anything that gets on your computer that you do not put there a virus. But there are all sorts of different pieces of nonsense that get on your computer and they are not all viruses.
A working definition of a virus is something that is maliciously distributed and can do you or your computer harm. Using that definition the results would be a lot less alarming.
According to statistics released by two Chinese anti-virus software developers, Kingsoft and Jiangmin, about 21.7 million Chinese computers were infected by computer viruses in the first half of 2007.
In the same period, the first half of 2007, 73,972 kinds of new viruses were intercepted by Jiangmin, a leap of 221% from the same period last year, and a total of 14,081,895 computers were infected. Those seem oddly precise figures and it would be interesting to know how they were arrived at. And a definition of ‘new’ would be helpful.
Most ‘new’ viruses often turn out to be standard viruses slightly modified by hackers who think this raises their esteem. But they are not ‘new’ viruses in the normally accepted use of that term.
Kingsoft intercepted 111,474 new viruses which is an an increase of 23%. So why does Jiangmin report a leap of 221% and Kingsoft an increase of 23%? And answer there was none.
Cao Lingxiang, a marketing manager from Jiangmin, suggested adding the numbers of infected computers reported by Jiangmin and Kingsoft together for a more accurate picture of the number of infections, ‘because few computers would incorporate figures from other anti-virus software.’ The logic is a little difficult to follow.
At which point we need some definitions because both companies seem to be lumping everything together.
Trojans are files carrying hidden malicious payloads.
Spyware installs itself onto a user’s computer and sends information from that computer to a third party without the user’s permission or knowledge.
Adware displays advertising — such as pop-up messages — which affects user productivity and system efficiency.
PUA is a term used to describe an application that is not inherently malicious, but is generally considered unsuitable for the majority of business networks. Potentially unwanted applications include adware, dialers, remote administration tools and hacking tools.
Viruses, in the narrowest definition, are computer programs which have the sole purpose of destroying data on our computers.
Worms actively replicate themselves. generally come through our email client, but people can also get infected if they accept a Trojan File which has as the payload a worm.
Kingsoft said trojans accounted for 68.7% of the total. Trojans attacking online game accounts, in turn, took up 76.04 percent of the total number of trojans, and trojans on Web sites showed an explosive increase in the period.
An encouraging development is that malware is diminishing due to anti-virus campaigns and efforts by developers.
What follows is Jiangmin’s Top 10 Viruses List with explanatory annotations added to the first two to give you an idea.
1. Exploit ANIfile. Has been around since 2004 and is a trojan which has little risk attached to it. Most anti-virus programs can zap it or, if you have a basic knowledge, do it through the Control Panel, Internet Options, Delete Files.
2. Checker/Autorun. It was thought that this was the most widely spread in China but times change. It is a USB based computer worm and a famous variation was the Panda worm. Unusual in that it can be found in MP3 players and digital cameras. It can record your online behavior and and is reputed to be able to steal computer users’ accounts as well as bank and game online passwords.
4. ARP virus
If you use anti-virus software and a firewall you will not normally be bothered. For the record the writer has two anti-virus programs, a firewall and an ad blocker installed on all the computers he uses. He also wears a belt and braces.