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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
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
``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