Ethical Issues Arising from Exposure to Computer Viruses Through Computer Usage

Melius Weideman


The ethical issues surrounding computer viruses and the computer user are considered. Two basic types of computer viruses exist: file and boot sector viruses. File viruses attach themselves to executable files, while boot sector viruses hide themselves in the system areas of disks. The names, motives and other detail of three virus authors are discussed, as well as the motives of virus authors in general.

There is a difference in the value program and data files respectively have to the user. Actual results of virus infections, as determined by the research, and implications for the computer user are inspected. Research has proven that some viruses can do damage to stored data, while others do no more than annoy the user. A definite level of technical expertise and insight is required to successfully remove a virus from an infected disk.

A very common method of spreading a virus is through the copying of files and disks. The ethical issues surrounding the copying of commercial programs is noted. The future of viruses in the computer world is uncertain: in the absence of DOS most current viruses will probably cease to exist.