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I had this idea for a character who is a combat hacker. I was thinking of making him use virus and agents to augment his personal arsenal. But I need clarification on some things as this is the first hacker I have played in 10 years.

I am assuming a "Virus" in this game is actually just an agent program designed to do a specific thing. I was thinking make an agent with a stealth program, an attack program to crash systems and then a edit program designed to specifically edit the controller files of a node or ICE so once a program is crashed you can edit it and when it reboots it becomes your virtual puppy to command. Is that possible? Can an agent carry a set of programs for editing other programs depending on what type they are? would you have to crash the icon first then hack it? If a program crashes does it just vanish from the net or does it's icon lay there all helpless and ready for the code-rape my little deviant is planning for it?

Inquiring minds want to know.
While I did not find any references to Viral programs on the main SR4 rules, I think this may be covered in the upcoming books Unwired or Emergence.
But using an Agent, so armed as you describe, should pull off the same effect.
emergence? dont recall hearing about that one before. better check i guess.

anyways, a virus (or more correctly a worm) would basicly be a agent with the toolkit to do hacks on the fly.

a RL virus do not need to crash a whole os to get inside. infact that would more often then not be counterproductive. what it would do is crash a server/service running on the machine, and use that crash to grab itself whatever access the server was running under.

basicly its a "hack on the fly" style attack, aiming for the best account level it can grab.

btw. more and more RL servers are now set up to run fully inside their on user account, or even a kind of virtual filesystem (somewhat similar to a virtual node, something i guess will show up in unwired).

hmm, is it just me or does the SR4 matrix rules make it simpler to connect RL and SR computing? atleast in very abstract terms.
the way most viruses work in real life is, the virus creator does the rl equivalent of probing on a host type, rather than doing it on one specific host. he then encodes this probing into a self-replicating agent and sets the agent loose. i suppose in SR4, you could create a "virus" that hacks hosts on the fly; that would, indeed, be pretty much just a normal agent. since (i imagine that) agent AI is based very heavily on viral programming, i'd guess it's pretty hard to draw a line between an agent and a virus.
true, but thats because right now, viruses are basicly dumb. now if they manage to develop a virus that can locate its own security flaws and alter part of its code to take advantage of that, one may well see a super-virus similar to the original crash virus of SR history wink.gif

hell, there have been some attempts using viruses that can alter their payload by downloading them from diffrent places. but then you kill that place and presto, its more or less dead in the water.

still, we never realy know what some person is cooking up on his or her computer right now.
yeah. i imagine that in SR, the main divisions between "agent" and "virus" are a) whether or not the program in question is designed to widely seed copies of itself, and b) whether or not the program in question is designed to be indiscriminately destructive. for example, instructing an agent to go around the Matrix deleting all files of a certain format while creating copies of itself? yeah, that's viral activity.
i think your major difference between a "dumb virus" and a "smart virus" would merely be an exploit uitility for the "smart" one, thats what will allow it to hack nodes on its own.

But, i thik, more important than that, is to capture the main "feel" of virus, and, atleast for me, that is the replication of said virus. Now, im not entirely sure if it's legal entirely to have an agent loaded from an agent, but thats how i'd make a virus. Have whatever loadout you want, PLUS another copy of the agent, which loads a copy every X whatever (minute, second, hour)
interestingly, depending on how the law works in SR, almost any illegal Matrix activity involving the use of agents could involve charges of viral activity. i mean, a program that hacks into your computer and corrupts files or sends you false data? we'd definitely call that a virus today, and that's basically all an agent does. hell, even riggers could be charged with illegal use of viruses to subsume command and control of vehicles. this could be important--i can't imagine that most people react very well, in 2064, to anything involving "viruses". after all, a virus crashed the Internet! that paranoia would be jacked up to even more extreme levels in 2070, after the Crash 2.0. charges involving viral activity are likely to incur quick convictions and harsh penalties.
I remember an old SB (can't at all remember which one) saying that, although the corps play hardball with each other and hack their netweorks all the time, there is an understood rule that you DO NOT unleash potent viruses into the matrix. The fear of the crash of '29 is still there. And with the recent events, I'd say the rule would be even more true. The other rule was "never DESTROY databases". Stealing is fine, just don't destroy it. That's just mean.
and don't deck the Orbital
To me, the difference between "agent" and "virus" is the same as the difference between "agent" and "IC." It's entirely dependent on how it's used.
*grumbles something about the age of these youngsters playing SR*
QUOTE (Aaron)
To me, the difference between "agent" and "virus" is the same as the difference between "agent" and "IC." It's entirely dependent on how it's used.

well, the rules were completely different, and agents were supposed to be more advanced 'thinkers'. I'm still waiting for Unwired before I try to really take a look at SR4 matrix. I'd rather have the whole picture to work with personally. Already frustrated by the lack of Street Magic. Of course, that may just be because I have the patience of a small yappy dog.
stealing patience from dogs? you're a bastard, fist.
little bastards had it comin' anyways.
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