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A platform independent computer virus

Keith Allen McMillan
April 1994

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Abstract

Some modern computer systems are subject to "infection" of their programs by self reproducing computer viruses. While it has been shown that detecting such a virus in general is an undecidable problem [Coh84], there may be large classes of viruses against which effective defenses can be made. Before an examination of the defenses is possible, a more complete catalog of the capabilities of viruses is necessary in order to determine if such classes exist. Some modern computer systems are subject to "infection" of their programs by self reproducing computer viruses. While it has been shown that detecting such a virus in general is an undecidable problem [Coh84], there may be large classes of viruses against which effective defenses can be made. Before an examination of the defenses is possible, a more complete catalog of the capabilities of viruses is necessary in order to determine if such classes exist.Towards the end of a more complete picture of the capabilities of computer viruses, the author presents a virus written in the TEX document preparation language, with assistance from the GNU Emacs program. Such a virus is capable of running and spreading under a number of different operating systems without being recompiled or otherwise adapted.

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