Opinion: The Common Computer Cold

Albert Fisler is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Albert Fisler

Viruses are a normal threat to anyone in modern society. Diseases spread from one person to another and soon a portion of the population is under its control. Computer viruses are just as dangerous and threatening, but they’ve never been able to contaminate other devices, until now. Researchers in Liverpool have created a contagious computer virus that can “spread like a common-cold,” according to BBC News.

This computer virus, named Chameleon, is able to seek out devices that transmit Wi-Fi signals and find the weak points in the system. Once it hacks the password to the Wi-Fi, it takes control and then robotically seeks out other access points to take over as well. Repeating this process will spread this computer virus rapidly and uncontrollably.  

Researches in Liverpool created this virus to then find some sort of antivirus to combat it.  Alan Marshall, professor of communication networks at the University of Liverpool, told BBC News that the virus would be unable to target big business networks with higher security. Instead he said local networks and residential homes are at the biggest risk.  

Though this virus may not be a threat to businesses at its current stage, one can only predict how menacing this might be if improved to take on such challenges. Between November 27 and December 15, 2013, Target had 40 million credit and debit card accounts stolen from their systems, according to ABC News.

However, this breach of security did not have the assistance of such a sophisticated virus. The Target data breach was narrowed down to a simple malware laced email that an employee accidentally opened, according to Latin Post. This breach then continued to also steal the personal information of 70 million customers.

While Target suffers this loss as their revenue drops, they plan to prevent any similar situations by adding new “chip” credit card technology, according to CNN Money. This may be a little too late, but Target remains committed to regaining their customers’ trust.

Coming back to this new contagious computer virus, it sounds rather scary that Target was compromised through an email, while this new virus is able to jump from access point to access point through Wi-Fi signals. Although, there is a quick remedy that will help protect against this potential virus if it were to be released. This contagious virus looks for Wi-Fi access points that have not changed their original admin password. Many people either forget or neglect to change their passwords after freshly buying a modem, laptop, or any other device with access to the Internet. As scary as computer viruses and the potential loss of personal information is, many gain access through simple mistakes that could have been easily avoided.