Computer virus behaviour thesis

I was going through some web site logs, and found an interesting combination of search terms. This site was listed in search results for “computer virus”, “dissertation” and “thesis”. I racked my brain for the reason why. Then I remembered I wrote something about the computer virus behaviour thesis for my final year project in university.

I rummaged through my collection of important CDs, and found it. With a small slip of paper that reads “Vincent’s Honours project — DO NOT ERASE!!!”, it’s easy to guess what’s inside that CD. Alas, it didn’t contain a PDF of my dissertation. It did contain all the source LaTeX and PostScript files. I wasn’t really in the mood to install a converter, so I went for the easy way out:

Download the computer virus behaviour thesis in PDF (372 KB). I’d appreciate some credit if you find anything useful.

In fact, I’m feeling generous. Here, download the whole shebang (525 KB). The zip file contains all the program source code, MATLAB code files, LaTeX source files, PostScript files, some image files and even the PowerPoint slides I used for my presentation.

It’s been what, 6 years? So don’t expect me to remember a lot of stuff… A short breakdown then.

The “program” folder contains the source code for the simulation program running on Unix. Note the accompanying MATLAB files. This was where I used the output of the C program to generate data files usable by the MATLAB code to generate graphs. Note the narcissistic name of vince.c *smile*.

The “winprog” folder contains the source code for the simulation program running on a Windows computer. I used this version for the presentation. It’s more interesting when the audience could see the infection in “real” time. The code was written in Dev-C++ IDE. The code was based off a game template I was working on, hence the use of DirectX and the game-related comments and code structure.

You’ll find a few files with the .pfn extension. If I remember correctly, that’s my custom font file format, and it stands for “Phantasy Font”. I was running a web site then. Don’t bother looking, the site’s not there anymore; I took it down. If you look through the code, and find any references to phantasyrealm, you’ll know what it is.

Question: Can you figure out the structure of the .pfn files?
Hint: It has something to do with bits, where 0 is black and 1 is white. It also has something to do with a 256 by 256 pixel grid. Or was it 128 by 128? *smile*

The discussion on spatial graphs is interesting. Imagine an entire grid of nodes, each node connected to the node above it, below it, to the left and right of it. If the grid wraps vertically and horizontally, the topology effectively becomes a torus (aka donut).

To visualise this, imagine you have a sheet of paper. Roll it so it becomes a cylinder with open ends. Then imagine bending the ends towards each other to form a loop. Tada! Torus formed.

I presented 4 points in the thesis

  • Topology
  • Advanced alarm system (foreknowledge of the virus epidemic)
  • Natural response system (higher vigilance after infection, decreased immunity over time)
  • Periodic activity system (computers and users are not “on” all the time)

I also remember my thesis advisor asking if any one point could be taken out and still produce the desired results. I said no. It’s only now that I realise he was referring to irreducible complexity.

So, I hope I’ve given you some useful information, some points to ponder and a fun computer virus simulation program to play with. Have fun!

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