"My friend's idea was about replication too. He showed what he
had built: a script, Visual Basic I suppose or something akin, that
would replicate across a Windows client running Outlook, by copying
itself to the hard disk and mailing itself out to all the entries
in its address book. I remarked that this was in no way different
from what the Melissa and Loveletter viruses had been doing.
Nothing new under the sun. My friend agreed smilingly -- his shyish
smile, which he ought to trademark as the whole Internet is using
it -- and condescendingly, saying, wait till you see the payload.
He explained that, contrary to your typical virus writer, he had no
intention of putting anything destructive in there. Quite to the
"You see," he explained, "what I am trying to build is a
virus-like piece of software, a vector, that is not destructive and
not even intrusive. Ideally, the recipient doen't even realize
there is anything wrong. They receive an e-mail message containing
a text version of the payload and that clicking on the attachment
will bring up a printable version of same. Well, perhaps that
happens, or perhaps it just produces an error message. Or
alternatively, promise that clicking will delete the message or
unsubscribe you, or give you an unforgettable experience. Anything
to fool someone into clicking. Or it can choose a method at random,
just to make it more interesting. What clicking always will do is
sending out copies of the vector and its payload to all the
addresses in the address book. Or mined from the received messages.
By one of a variety of methods that can be expected to work often
enough. Visual Basic vulnerabilites, ActiveX vulnarabilities -- the
Redmond guys have really been a great help...."
"Quite. You know the saying of course, that the Internet
interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. And that's
true. But the Internet is still too vulnerable. Servers can be
shut down or forced into submission, by governments, by
legislators, and by companies that can afford to buy either of
those. We need software solutions to make something that's
invulnerable to that. Something that can live without servers, even
personal ones, which can be always shut down.
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