Do Good Viruses Exist?
It sounds odd to say “good viruses” or to refer to them as “helpful,” but there are a surprising number of viruses created with the intent of being helpful.
It sounds odd to say “good viruses” or to refer to them as “helpful,” but there are a surprising number of viruses created with the intent of being helpful. Generally speaking, most people view viruses strictly as being bad. However, by definition, a virus is simply a computer program that can replicate itself by modifying other computer programs. While typically these modifications have malicious intent, there are a few of these replicating programs designed to be helpful resulting in what could be considered as good viruses.
Created in 1993, Cruncher is a .com virus that compresses the files that it infects. This results in infected programs decreasing in size. Programmers have made several attempts to create a file compressing virus, but Cruncher is the first to actually be coded.
KOH offers to protect your information by encrypting disk sectors. It will prompt you to create a password so you can access the data. So, basically, you’re performing a Ransomware attack on yourself, only this time you know the password (or at least you should have it written down somewhere).
Wifatch, also known as Zollard and Reincarna, infects home routers with the intent of protecting the device from botnets and other malicious threats. The origins of Wifatch date back to November 2014. The program acts similar to a computer security system, updating through its peer-to-peer network, and deletes remnants of remaining malware. This is a unique example of good viruses designed to strictly combat bad ones.
We’ve talked about MagMac before, but to recap – upon taking over your screen, this virus will deliver a message of world peace and then promptly delete itself from the host computer. That’s it, nothing more, just a happy message promoting world peace. It might not be considered overly helpful but it certainly does not have any malicious intent.
The Ethics of Good Viruses
The list of viruses with helpful intentions is a short one for many reasons, one of which being that good can be subjective (what benefits one person or entity might come at a considerable cost of another). However, there are some technical, ethical, legal, and even psychological reasons why good computer viruses may be a bad idea, including a few of the examples given here. Lack of control, unauthorized data modification, possible misuse, and trust issues, in general, are all areas that overshadow the rogue software regardless of their intent.
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