Computer Viruses Background
Computer viruses are a common problem and can strike anyone who owns or operates a computer. A computer virus is harmful coding that usually stems from a particular kind of software that carries the virus. One of the most popular kinds of software prone to carry a computer virus is known as “malware” (meaning malicious software). The virus enters into a computers system and can cause harm or limit the computer’s functions.
Many times, a virus can be used to retrieve personal information, steal data, cause interference with the Internet, slow down the Internet or computer, or cause serious damage to its network. Oftentimes, people mistake a computer virus for a computer worm. A virus often spreads from one computer to another, whereas a worm starts on one computer, but can infect many computers over a network at one time.
Computer Viruses Usage
The birth of the computer virus was estimated to be around the early ‘70s when one of the first forms of the Internet was created. This particular virus was known as the “creeper virus”. Many suspect that the creation of the virus was actually just an experiment with young computer experts to see how far the virus could travel. They did not realize the serious consequences that would occur following the release of the virus. Since then, viruses started to become more predominant, especially in the 1980s when pirated software began to surface that contained viruses.
Computer Viruses Criminality
As computer crime cases have increased, Federal laws have been put into effect to try to help prevent the spread of computer viruses. In the United States, it is considered a Federal crime to knowingly release a virus to a third party without their consent. The result of committing such a crime can lead to serious jail time along with heavy fines. This is demonstrated in several famous court cases involving computer crime.
One of the most famous computer case crimes involving a virus was due to the spread of the “Melissa Virus”. The creator of the virus was sentenced to twenty months in prison and was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of five thousand dollars. In cases involving the use of malware, it is illegal to use malware in order to spread a virus. However, it is not illegal to actually possess malware.