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Can cryptography prevent computer viruses?

John Morar, David Chess
Virus bulletin conference, septemper 2000, pp.127-138
September 2000

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The relationship between cryptography and virus prevention is anything but simple. Since the beginning of the computer virus problem, people have proposed solutions involving some form of cryptography; but cryptography plays only a minor role in the solutions we actually use today. Encryption can also make virus prevention more difficult, by providing viral hiding places inside the objects that it protects. This paper will provide an overview of the ways that encryption technology impinges on virus protection and related security efforts, and provide some understanding of how encryption can help, or hurt, the efforts of the `good guys'.

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