WMU News

High-tech war against computer viruses

May 11, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Computer viruses that include the recent Melissa and Chernobyl strains have prompted corporations and the government to look for high-tech solutions to minimize damage and catch virus authors.

"They're getting better," says Dr. Alan Rea, a WMU assistant professor of business information systems, "because they're developing the technology that can catch the people much more easily. To be honest, what happens is the government and corporations hire hackers ­ people that are known hackers, they'll hire them and put them on the payroll and then those hackers write programs to counteract new hackers. The best people that they can get to actually fight computer crimes are the people who used to do the hacking themselves."

But, Rea adds, battling viruses still is a reactionary process. As recent viruses have shown, corporations and government officials will always be a little behind virus authors.

"Right now, you get a virus, you analyze it, you get the signature, a bite count, and so on so you can identify it, and then you release the fix for it so you can find the virus, fix it, isolate it or destroy it. That's some lag time there."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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