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Protection of Computer Systems from Computer Viruses: Ethical and Practical Issues

Bruce Neubauer, James Harris
Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, Volume 18, Issue 1
October 2002

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Computer viruses, worms, and Trojanhorse programs cost individuals, companies and government agencies millions ofdollars every year. Traditional responses have involved use of antiviral software which remove infections or which restrict the transmission of infected communications, and firewalls. The need to rapidly respond to new or threatened attacks has increased the popularity of subscription services which allow users to quickly obtain the most up-to-date antiviral protection. However, unprotected systems canbecome infected and can rapidly propagate that infection to manyother systems. In response, more invasive antiviral agents can be imagined. This paper addresses ethical issues related to the protection of computer systems and delivery of that protection. Five categories in a "Protection MechanismGrid"areproposed. The categories are based upon possible protection deliverymechanisms and the options available to systemowners. The practical and ethical implications of each category are addressed.

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