Tag Archives: programs

Backdoor Programs

It’s the ultimate nightmare for a computer user, the idea that someone outside the computer can take over. The official “technical” term is Remote Administration, but hackers are more likely to use the word Backdoor.

With Windows XP, remote administration comes pre-installed. Windows XP has an option called Remote Assistance, where an XP technician can “remote in” and take over your computer. The remote tech has as much control over your system as if he was sitting there at the keyboard.

The hackers predate Microsoft by several years.

NetBus, for example, was designed in 1998 by Carl-Fredric Neikter, and many of the backdoor programs since then have followed a similar design.

The program comes in two parts, the Client, and the Server. The server is the part that has to be installed on the machine to be hacked, and the Client is the controlling system. Once the Server program has been installed, the Client has almost total control, from dangerous things like recording keystrokes or launching programs to annoying things like opening the CD tray. Netbus 2.0 Pro was even marketed commercially as a remote administration program.

Some other backdoor programs are Back Orifice (which was named as a pun on Microsoft’s Back Office program), SubSeven, and Poison Ivy.

Any backdoor program allows an outsider full, unrestricted access to the hacked computer. The hacker can copy information off of the computer, activate webcams, even remotely shut down or crash the computer. Netbus and SubSeven are very popular among “script kiddies.”

In one major case in 1999, a law professor was fired and charged because system administrators found child pornography on his system. He was acquitted, almost five years later, when the court was shown that Netbus was used to copy the images onto the computer.

Most backdoor programs are easily stopped by antivirus and firewall programs.

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Malware Overview

Do you know what goes on under the hood of your car? Do you know the solution for a warning light on the dash? Do you know what’s wrong with the car if it starts making strange noises or loses power?

Those same questions can be asked about your computer.

Computers can have many of the same problems as cars. Engine problems can cause cars to lose power, just like a large program can take up too much of the computer for anything else to run. Where an engine could “throw a rod” or “break a timing chain,” computers can mysteriously reboot or die with the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death.”

We expect that our car will bog down sometimes. You can’t expect a car to perform as well when pulling a two-ton trailer up a five degree hill. Likewise, when a computer gets bogged down with a big project, you would expect it to respond a little slower.

What you don’t expect is for either the car or the computer to bog down or die when we’re not pushing so hard.

One of the things that “Malware” can do is exactly that. It forces the computer to work harder, taking power away from our programs. It would be like sneaking a dozen cinderblocks into the back of the family car right before the trip.

“Malware” is software that works without the user’s knowledge and consent. Sometimes called “badware,” it covers a wide range of programs, including computer viruses, spyware, adware, and more. Adware can bog down the computer, because it contacts websites to download fresh ads. Spyware collects data on you and the websites you visit and returns all of that data to the host website. And viruses just want to find a way to spread to other computers.

But most importantly, malware runs “under the hoood” and behind your back, so that you don’t even know that it’s there.

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