• Glenn Laredo

Why Windows Get Viruses

Updated: Apr 30, 2018

In The Beginning, DOS created the single user system. Computing life was limited back in the day and DOS did not have effective security permissions and user account restrictions...and...we certainly did not have the world wide web.

Then Mr. Gates sauntered in and created a Graphical User Interface (GUI) called Windows. Whoah, this was different indeed. The thing is, while it was much easier to operate (what with the mouse and all), it was actually just a facade built upon the same single user DOS platform. It was pretty, but not pretty secure. For the home computing public, this was the case up through the first few years of the 21st century.

Behind the scenes of larger commercial server system installations however, was a much more robust system called Windows NT (NT= New Technology) which appeared around 1993. The poor consumer had to be patient, even though they didn't realize they were quite behind the times. After all, Windows 3.1 through Windows ME sure looked like advanced operating systems, but as I mentioned, it was just a facade. Windows XP shipped without a firewall enabled and network services were exposed directly to the Internet, which made it an easy target for worms. At one point, the SANS Internet Storm Center estimated an unpatched Windows XP system would be infected within four minutes of connecting it directly to the Internet, due to worms like Blaster.

In addition, Windows XP’s autorun feature automatically ran applications on media devices connected to the computer. Savvy criminals began leaving infected USB drives lying around near companies they wanted to compromise. If an employee picked up the USB drive and plugged it into a company computer, it would infect the computer. And, because most users logged in as Administrator users, the malware would run with administrative privileges and have complete access to the computer.

Windows became an easy target for ugly people. It also became the most widely used operating system on the planet. Unfettered access to the global internet system was a gift to criminals.

Then the change came. I held my breath with my eyes closed. Windows XP (Xtreme Programming) was introduced in the fall of 2001. NT was at its core, and remains there right up to today. Um, wait..hold on a second. Microsoft however never really designed XP with those essential security features for consumers until the arrival of the Service Pack 2 update in mid 2004 which added a more robust Firewall, WPA Encryption, Data Execution Prevention..yadda yadda. At least it was realized that more protection and security was needed. Thank goodness for little favors.

Efforts are continually being made to further innately secure Windows, but the fact remains that the foundation of criminal activity was forged long ago, and continues in full force today. Consumers need to be acutely aware that as administrators of their system, they can and certainly do allow the installation of malicious code by unwittingly downloading and running seemingly benign applications. Malicious executable code is software updates, screen savers, media players etc.

Consider a MAC

MacOS X, are built on the Unixkernel, which is one of the most secure operating systems available. Most of the computer virus writers are more familiar with the IBM platform and Microsoft Windows, which means it's easier for them create a virus for that platform. Many of the tools, scripts, and code used to create viruses or other malware are designed for Microsoft Windows. Many of the targets of viruses are governments and businesses, with an aim to either steal information, money, or just create havoc.

So, have fun, be careful and above all, employ an Anti-Virus program or suite to help prevent those nasty bugs and worms from infecting your system. It's worth having a few extra locks on your door to keep the bad guys out. It's sometimes inconvenient, but not nearly as painful as the alternative. You won't be a happy camper if you don't take care.


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