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Proliferation of Viruses, Worms, and Trojan Horses

With dozens of new variations of viruses being released daily, one might ask who is developing so many sophisticated programs. Although the first exploits to take advantage of a newly discovered vulnerability are generally released by highly skilled programmers, the creation of viruses and worms requires no more skill than any other point-and-click GUI to create a seemingly infinite stream of new customized viral programs. Hundreds of ready-made GUI and command-line virus generators can be downloaded from the Internet, with names such as Acid Flowing Trojan Generator or the Batch-O-Matic.

By selecting options on a GUI, such as shown in Figure 2-1, a hacker might elect for his or her new creation to spread by one or many different means, using customized file names, polymorphic restructuring capabilities, and many other details that can make the newly generated program unique in its methods of attack and distribution. Because researchers also use these tools, they remain legal in most countries and are easily accessible through a simple Web search. The danger inherent in these tools is that, through their use, relatively unskilled hackers could generate continuous streams of new threats.

Figure 2.1

Figure 2-1 An example virus-generating GUI tool, configuring a virus called My New Virus to deliver a payload that will act on April Fools’ Day 2005.

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