It’s natural for viruses to mutate in nature and become stronger over time. The scary thing is that it’s now happening to computer viruses.
Mutating viruses are nothing new, they are used to infect machines in a way that can’t be stopped by traditional anti-virus software. The problem comes in with a new report from Softwin, the Romania based anti-virus software company that makes BitDefender, that says they have found multiple instances of computers being infected by worms that have previously been infected by a virus. They consider it a new “Frankenstein piece of malware” that has the potential to cause a lot of damage.
For those who perhaps don’t know a lot of viruses and worms, a worm is usually an executable file while a virus infects executables. The inevitable problem arises when a virus infects the executable that a worm resides in.
Fortunately, the researchers at BitDefender have no evidence at this point that the new super virus is any worse than a traditional virus. The concern is that worms are better at moving through systems, so a virus attached to a worm will have an easier time moving through a system.
The research team found 40,000 instances of the mutated malware out of a sample of 10 million files. One example was a virus designed to create back doors for hackers infected a worm that steals passwords. Their combination resulted in a mutation that could steal passwords while simultaneously creating a backdoor for the hacker to access the stolen information.
PhysOrg brings up an interesting point in that a virus' main goal is to cause destruction. So in theory, a virus should destroy whatever it infects including the worm. The researchers never addressed this, but there’s a possibility that the virus could destroy the worm before it does any damage.
The researchers say that the combination of the two malware types was unintentional. The issue raised now is that hackers know it’s possible to combine the two. If it does occur, it could “pose a very serious threat to computers and networks the world over.”
For more examples of how this new super virus can destroy your computer, check out an expert analysis here.