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I know that this world is very evil, and that the most unfathomable things go on around the clock, inside and outside of the "computer world". However, I sometimes really wonder if certain things can really be true. For example, I read this comment today:

you'd be fucked with that virus I saw back in the times. Corruped your data bit by bit, especially the rarely accessed parts. By the time you realized something was wrong, all your backups, even a year back, were already fucked in unknown places. Like changing numbers in spradsheets and databases etc. Nowadays, such malwae could be much smarter, and leave all the steuctural data intact and update the checksums so really only your data corrupts while the files still open without errors.

Source: https://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=17776458&cid=60801150

I don't need anyone to convince me that there are people sick enough in the head to actually waste their vast technical skills and large brain capacity on something so pointlessly evil. However, would somebody really make such a thing, in practical terms? It just sounds like so much work for something so ridiculously sinister.

I can understand something like a virus that makes you play "Russian roulette" with the computer and if you turn it off or "lose" the game, it nukes all your files. I very much believe that such a thing existed and was spread around. But this? Slowly corrupting seldom-accessed data just for the sake of ruining your backups? It seems to not even have the "teach you a lesson" moral of the viruses that killed your active files. It's just downright, pure evil.

Normally, it seems as they are either motivated by money, or by wanting to "teach the stupid lusers a lesson", such as "always back your data up or else this can happen". But this actively goes out of its way to destroy long-term backups in subtle ways, designed to not be noticed until it's too late.

I'll admit it: just reading that gave me the creeps, whether it's made-up nonsense or real. I fear malware and compromises of all kinds every second I'm using my computer, and I wish I didn't know about all these things, and that I never had to read stories or anecdotes like this.

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  • This is precisely the reason why backups should be made in a way such that: if the machine being backed-up is compromised, the attacker is unable to alter the backups. See security.stackexchange.com/questions/222082/… for more info.
    – mti2935
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 2:11
  • @mti2935 The way I understood the explanation is that this changes your "live" data in a subtle manner, which is then propagated slowly to all your "real" backups, which of course are not connected to any kind of network or power. That is, this is not about destroying "live" backups outright in a way which makes you able to detect it.
    – H Bebee
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 2:17
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    Whats the question?,This seems like a rant.
    – yeah_well
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 6:06
  • That's why a reliable backup system should have historical functionality, so that you can recover previous versions of files that have changed.
    – mti2935
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 13:11
  • This is the aim of various forms of ransomware as well - to destroy your data. To destroy your business, potentially. People do this sort of thing.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 8:34

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I can't say that this specific virus existed, but it is not surprising at all.

Once the Internet burst on the scene in 1995, people were trying to figure out what to do with all these new tools at their disposal. There were all kinds of hobbyists and tinkerers who would explore every avenue of possibility, simply because they could.

It wasn't so much about trying to be evil, but more about exploring what kind of evil was possible. You ended up with all kinds of malware that did all nature of strange things. Most of what I saw didn't have any specific point but to determine if some idea was feasible. A lot of it was, indeed, quite clever.

And because there was no cost to create and experiment, and the Internet made a perfect, anonymous testing ground, there were a lot of tinkerers.

So, yes, the example virus is indeed possible and yes, someone may have spent months tinkering with it to see what would happen. But the point was likely not to "waste their vast technical skills and large brain capacity on something so pointlessly evil" but to enhance their skills and get smarter. Evil was just a byproduct.

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