Some computer viruses refuse to die

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A rather long article, excerpted below: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44564709

By Mark Ward Technology correspondent, BBC News

There are zombies on the internet - odd, undead lumps of code that roam endlessly seeking and finding fresh victims to infect that help keep the whole ugly horde staggering on, and on.

Most of these shambling data revenants are computer viruses and the most long-lived of all are worms.

"Most of those worms are self-spreading - that's why we still see them moving around," said Candid Wueest, principal threat researcher at Symantec, who has hunted viruses for years.

Typically, he said, when these malicious programs infected a machine, they kicked off a routine that scanned the entire net looking for other computers vulnerable in the same way as their current host.

When they found one, they installed a copy that also started scanning.

"All it takes is a few machines to get them moving around again," he added....



But Conficker was not alone in persisting long after its initial outburst, said Mr Wueest, from Symantec.

Its network of sensors across the net regularly catches a wide range of malware that has lasted for much longer than anyone expected.

Symantec regularly sees the SillyFDC virus from 2007, Virut from 2006 and even a file infector called Sality that dates from 2003.

"We do see Dos viruses now and then," he said. The disk operating system (Dos) is more than 36 years old and dates from the early days of the desktop PC. Even older versions ran on mainframes.

"Our guess is that sometimes it is researchers that have found an old disk and its gets run and gets detected," said Mr Wueest...



One regularly caught in the spam traps by Cisco is another worm, called MyDoom, that appeared in 2004.

"It's often the most commonly detected malware we get in our traps," said Mr Lee.

But many viruses lived on in another fashion, he said, because of the way the cyber-crime underground treated code.

"Malware is rarely static," he said, "computer code from older malware families can be shared, or stolen, and used in the development of new malware."

One prime example of this, said Mr Lee, was the Zeus banking Trojan, whose source code was leaked in 2011.

That code had proved so useful that it was still turning up seven years later, he said.

The trend of zombie malware was likely to continue if more modern viruses were any guide, said Mr Lee.....
 
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