Hackers, Virus Makers, & Shape Shifters

In the television series, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, there is a character called Odo. He is a member of a shapeshifting race called changelings.

Shapeshifting?? What is that?

According to Wikipedia, “In traditional mythology and folklore, and in modern fantasy fiction, shapeshifting is the ability of a being to physically transform into another form or being, either as an inherent faculty of a mythological creature, or by means of magic.”

Magic – not entirely – How about a computer program that appears as something simple and Innocent and once it is installed in your computer shape shifts ( morphes ) into a program that searches your computer for private data such as bank accounts, your personal information ( social security, etc )?
According to some sources on the internet, that is the future of viruses. Which means that future virus checker using the checking methods of the day will be useless.

According to one site, original viruses were mainly for bragging rights among hackers. A hacker would brag about the number of sites he had infected, etc. Today, most hackers seek data they can sell. An increasing number aren’t looking for a broad strike on thousands of computers, but want to gain access to a precise number of users or machines that hold the data they want.

So what’s a computer user gonna do?

One of the things I get to do is fix home computers. I see all sorts programs which could easily be somewhat similar to what I describe earlier. How do individuals get these programs? They do a search of the internet based on a problem they are having and MUST believe that if a program says it can solve that problem and it is a free download, then it gets installed on their computer. These programs usually cause more problems than they fix.

What should the user do?

Be very careful! Ask computer gurus or at least some friend who knows computers to aid in selecting the software. Don’t install something without investigating it. Virus checkers are a good help, but they can’t handle some of the new ideas of hackers that are coming their way.

Good Luck.