2001 anti virus review: Kaspersky Labs presents a year-end review of events taking place in anti-virus safety.


2001 saw anti-virus companies achieve many definitive successes in the area of new anti-virus development, as well as the perfecting of already existing defence technologies thwarting malicious programs. In spite of these achievements, the year also witnessed a further increase in the number of users who suffered from virus attacks.

The rapid development of information technology (IT) has its pluses and minuses. On one hand, IT increases the effectiveness and efficiency of communication, developing documents, completing financial transactions, and in general has a very positive effect on conducting business. On the other hand, the continuing development of IT attracts even more new users, with the majority having only a superficial understanding of proper computer safety guidelines and rules. Because of this, even the most primitive malicious program can be enough to cause a global epidemic, such as with the "Kournikova" virus. These factors are the main reason for the worsening conditions in the antivirus defence area.

Not one month passed in 2001 without the latest virus epidemic infecting computer systems in various countries. It is important to note that this is precipitated by virus writers actively creating new methods for the virus penetration of computers, giving a further rise to the amount of virus incidents.

The following is a brief checklist of 2001 developments in the area of anti-virus safety:

* The widespread distribution of malicious programs exploiting breaches and holes in software safety systems;

* E-mail and the Internet solidified their positions as the most dangerous sources for malicious programs;

* The creation of other popular alternative means - ICQ, Gnutella, MSN Messenger, IRC - for the spreading of malicious programs;

* The increase of malicious programs for Linux;

* The appearance of "fileless" network worms;

* The predominance of Windows network worms, and the sharp decrease in script- and macro-viruses on the list of the most widespread malicious programs.

Safety System Errors

A breach is an error in a regular software program, through which a malefactor is able imperceptibly to penetrate a computer with malicious code.

The danger inherent in-this type of virus is that it is activated automatically and virtually independent of a user. For example, in order to be infected by Nimda, a user simply needs to either open or read a message containing the worm in the preliminary viewing window. CodeRed doesn't even require this - it independently locates vulnerable computers via the Internet and infects them. The main event of 2001 was the widespread distribution of malicious programs exploiting breaches and holes in an operating system's safety measures and applications for the purpose of penetrating computers (examples of such viruses are CodeRed, Nimda, BadtransII etc.)

According to Kaspersky Labs statistics, this type of...

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