Benjamin Geer on Sat, 13 May 2000 00:57:03 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Viruses on the Internet: Monoculture breeds parasites

On Fri, May 12, 2000 at 11:33:40AM +0200, Menso Heus wrote:
> As a software engineer you should have known that the I Love You virus
> could have been written for Unix or Linux as well, just put the code in a
> shell script.

Not so.  To write a virus, it is not enough to write a shell script
that would do damage if you ran it.  A virus is a program that *runs
itself* when you receive it in the mail, and does damage.  You can't
write a virus for Linux because no Linux mail agent would run a shell
script.  If the author of Pine, Elm, Mutt, or any of the other Linux
mail agents said that they were adding such a 'feature', people would
think they had gone insane.  Viruses can exist for Windows only
because Outlook automatically runs programs that it receives.

> The *PROBLEM* is the *USER* Like always, it's the end-luser that goes 'hey
> someone loves me clickclickclick' whithout paying attention to what it isz
> they are actually opening.

There is (or should be) a difference between reading a mail message
and executing a program that it contains.  If you send me a shell
script in the mail, my mail agent will show me the text of your
message (and of the script), without running the script.  If I want to
run the script, I'll have to save it in a file, give it execute
permissions, and run it myself.  This is how a mail agent should
behave, and this is why there are no Linux viruses.

Outlook, on the other hand, runs the ILOVEYOU virus *when you read the
message*, without even telling you that the message contains a
program.  See the difference?

Benjamin Geer

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