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Re: Viruses DO belong here!

In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (Gene Spafford) writes:
> John Brunner defined "tapeworm" programs in "The Shockwave Rider" in
> 1975.  In 1982, John Shoch and Jon Hupp of Xerox PARC published a
> paper in Communications of the ACM (March 1982; 25(3); pp. 172-180)
> entitled "The `Worm' Programs -- Early Experiments with a Distributed
> Computation."  They credit Brunner's work as the inspiration for the
> name of their work.  Note that this is 6.5 years prior to the Internet
> Worm.

If we're going to use science fiction as sources -- and for terminology,
why not? -- I'll see your ``Shockwave Rider'' and raise you ``When Harlie
Was One'', by David Gerrold, copyright 1972.  (Portions of the book
appeared earlier; I don't know if this section was included.)  Anyway,
here are some relevant quotes.  (N.B.  I'm quoting the original version,
not the later ``Release 2.0''.)

        ``Do you remember the VIRUS program?''

        ``Vaguely.  Wasn't it some kind of computer disease or

        ``Disease is closer.  There was a science-fiction writer once who
        wrote a story about it -- but the thing had been around a long
        time before that.  It was a program that -- well, you know what a
        virus is, don't you?  It's pure DNA, a piece of renegade genetic
        information.  It infects a normal cell and forces it to produce
        more viruses -- viral DNA chains -- instead of its normal protein.
        Well, the VIRUS program does the same thing.''


        ...  ``Let me put it another way.  You have a computer with an
        auto-dial phone link.  You put the VIRUS program into it and it
        starts dialing phone numbers at random until it connects to
        another computer with an auto-dial.   The VIRUS program then
        *injects* itself into the new computer.  Or rather, it
        reprograms the new computer with a VIRUS program of its own and
        erases itself from the first computer.  The second machine then
        begins to dial phone numbers at random until it connects with a
        third machine....

        ``It's fun to think about, but it was hell to get out of the
        system.  The guy who wrote it had a few little extra goodies
        tacked onto it -- well, I won't go into any detail.  I'll just
        tell you that he also wrote a second program, only this one
        would cost you -- it was called VACCINE.

        ``...And somewhere along the line, one of them mutated...
        Evidently, there was some kind of garbling during transmission,
        perhaps a faulty phone link or a premature disconnection.  In
        any case, copies of the program started appearing that didn't
        have the self-erase order at the end.  In other words, one
        machine could infect another and then both would be infected,
        dialing numbers at random until ultimately every phone-link
        computer in the world would be infected...

        ``You can tap into any computer you want, raid it for any
        information you want, and do it all without any possibility of
        being detected.  *Or*, you could set the VIRUS program to alter
        information in another computer, falsify it according to your
        direction, or just scramble it at random....''

I won't bother to comment on Gerrold's level of computer knowledge.  But
his description is pretty clear, and he called it a VIRUS.

My own view -- the two are very much the same, except that they ``feed''
at different levels of the hierarchy.  The malware conventionally called
a ``virus'' lives in a program, and spreads by virtue of a computer.
A ``worm'' lives in a computer, and spreads via a network.  I don't think
there is an essential difference between them.  To be sure, using a
different word does identify the particular habitat, but it also obscure
the similarities.