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Network Chico security terms glossary

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Search the security terms glossary:

Welcome to the Network Chico computer security terms glossary.

=G=

Generator Kit: See Constructor Kit.

Germ: A first generation sample of a virus. Technically, the term is reserved for forms of the virus that are in some way 'special', such that another sample the same as the one being referred to could not be produced as the result of a normal infection event. Examples include the initial, unencrypted form of encrypted or polymorphic viruses and 'virus code only' samples of simple prependers and appenders, as would be produced by compiling their source code. Germ samples are infective but not themselves the result of a natural infection incident.

Ghost Positive: This is a specific form of false positive, in which the error is due to 'leftover pieces' or 'remnants' of a virus that are incorrectly detected and reported as an infection. As the virus is not present, no longer present (in the sense that it cannot be activated through normal actions of the user or system), or present but inactive, it is erroneous for a scanner to report an (active) infection. (Usually only part of the virus will be present anyway.) For example, under DOS or Windows, accessing a diskette to obtain a listing of its root directory causes the diskette's system boot sector to be read because details from the BPB must be obtained to correctly access the rest of the disk's contents. Imagine a diskette that had previously been infected with a boot virus and disinfected by writing a very short boot program that simply displays a message warning the diskette is not a functional system diskette. Such a short program could easily leave a couple of hundred bytes of the virus' boot sector code intact if the disinfecting program did not overwrite the rest of the boot sector. Some scanners may see this part of the virus' code and consequently report the virus' presence. (See also Slack Space.) In the early days of scanner development, some scanners would false alarm on other scanners, or report viruses in memory after another scanner had run. This was usually a form of ghost positive caused by one scanner 'seeing' the scan strings of another scanner. The simple solution to this was to not store scan strings in plain text, but to cipher them in some way. Of course, once this was done, the scanner had to work with them ciphered, as deciphering them even just in memory could still lead to their detection in-memory on a subsequent scanning run.

Global Template: Although many applications have mechanisms for their users to extend the default functionality and/or appearance of the application, some allow this (partially) via template files. Originally used as a means to provide standard document, spreadsheet, etc formatting, the template files of some applications (like the document files on which they are based) have been extended to hold all manner of customizations (such as keyboard shortcuts and personalized menu layouts) and macros (that add functionality by automating routine processes and the like). Some products, such as Word and Excel, have gone a couple of steps further and provide for one or more specially named template files and/or directories to be automatically loaded as the application starts up and also allow 'Add-In' functionality to be implemented in templates.
For example, Word for Windows looks for the file 'Normal.dot' in certain directories (while the Macintosh version looks for a file of Word Template type named 'Normal' in matching folders) and loads it into its environment without warning. Should a normal template contain any auto macros that should run when such a template is loaded, they are run, any menu or shortcut customizations it contains are applied, and any system macros or standard event handler macros in the template will become active, running when the corresponding Word command or event occurs. Word and Excel both support a 'startup' directory, although in slightly different ways. Word will open and integrate any template files stored in its startup directory into its runtime environment, just as it integrates the contents of the normal template. Excel opens and integrates any standard Excel file type stored in its startup directory into its runtime environment. Registered Add-Ins are also loaded when the application starts and if they are templates, will be loaded from wherever they are registered. Thus, for Word, the normal template, any templates in its startup folder and any Add-Ins loaded as templates are all 'global templates', with any customizations and macros they contain becoming available throughout the Word environment. Infection of global templates is thus an attractive proposition to macro viruses written for such application environments, as it provides a simple form of 'residency'. This will improve its likelihood of infecting more documents and thus improve its chances to spread. The term 'global template' is also often, but incorrectly, used to mean 'Word's normal template'. This is almost certainly a carryover from earlier versions of Word's macro language, where the normal template could often be referred to via the referent 'Global:', rather than by its full path and name. Even in many of those versions of Word, this usage was, at best, sloppy because of the possibility (if not the actuality) of other 'global' templates.

Globbing: Globbing is the use of wildcard characters or arguments to greatly increase the amount of data requested. An example is Dir *.* in DOS, this command is asking for all file names with all file extensions (everything) in the current directory. By making globbing requests to a web server it is sometimes possible to cause a Denial of Service attack as the the server is too busy to deal with legitimate requests.

Goat File:

  1. Some generic approaches to virus detection create 'dummy' program files which are written to the drives of the machines being monitored. These files are regularly checked for modification, or created, checked and then deleted. Such files are sometimes called 'goat files', 'decoy files' or 'bait files' because they are not intended to be run for any practicable purpose, and act solely as 'bait' to trap and detect the presence of an active virus.
  2. Goat file is also widely used to refer to the 'standard' files antivirus researchers commonly use to replicate viruses onto. Such files can make it easier to analyze the virus, because the researchers know what parts of the infected files they are dealing with are part of the original 'goats', and thus can readily ignore that code during their analysis of the virus. Different researchers generally use different goats.

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