FTP viruses?

Don Gilbert gilbertd at sunflower.bio.indiana.edu
Tue Dec 31 09:29:45 EST 1991

In article <9112310943.AA10859 at genbank.bio.net> ODONNELL at ARCB.AFRC.AC.UK (Cary O'Donnell) writes:
>There is one thing that bothers me about the idea of someone being able
>to ftp something to one site as contributed s/w, then it gets copied to
>several ftp sites shortly afterwards.
>This is asking for someone to make mischief. So - who will, and HOW will
>this system be screened for viruses and other damaging features?
>Is this a real or imagined problem?

It is a potential problem, but I rate it as not of much concern.  There
is nothing about FTP archives that makes software in them any more
prone to computer virus infection than any other public software
sources.  You may even get computer viruses thru commercial software.
I recommend that all personal computer users install anti-virus software on 
your Mac or PC.  For macintosh users, Disinfectant does the
job (anonymous ftp to ftp.acns.nwu.edu for the home archive of Disinfectant
or try any of the large mac archives: sumex-aim.stanford.edu, 
mac.archive.umich.edu, ftp.funet.fi, and others). If you look thru the 
MSDOS archive lists that Rob Harper frequently posts, you will surely find 
relevant anti-virus programs.

Software authors are generally quite careful to keep out viruses from 
the distribution file of their software lest they get a black eye about it.  
When such archived software is copied from site to site, without dearchiving 
it, there is no chance of it picking up a virus.   It is only the active
applications which pick up computer viruses.  For instance, when someone
sends a Mac application to iubio archive, I will frequently copy that to
my office mac, dearchive it, then test it.  If my office mac had viruses
then the application could get infected.  But only rarely do I replace
an archived program with one I have copied to my Mac.  It is the programs
I develop which you have to worry about :)

I haven't run into any Macintosh computer viruses in the last
2 years, probably thanks to the widespread use of Disinfectant and other
anti-virus programs.  Nor have I had seen/heard of Unix or VMS-Vax computer 
viruses around here.  I do not use or test MS-DOS software.

-- Don

Don Gilbert                                     gilbert at bio.indiana.edu
biocomputing office, biology dept., indiana univ., bloomington, in 47405

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