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An Abstract Theory of Computer Viruses

Leonard Adleman
Advances in Cryptology - CRYPT0 '88, LNCS 403, pp. 354-374, 1990

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In recent years the detection of computer viruses has become common place. It appears that for the most part these viruses have been 'benign' or only mildly destructive. However, whether or not computer viruses have the potential t o cause major and prolonged disruptions of computing environments is an open question. Such basic questions as: How hard is it to detect programs infected by computer viruses? Can infected programs be 'disinfected'? What forms of protection exist? How destructive can computer viruses be? have been at most partially addressed [Col][Co2]'.Indeed a generally accepted definition of computer virus has yet to emerge. For these reasons, a rigorous study of computer viruses seems appropriate.

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