Ready for next Virus?
Apr 23, 1999 08:24 AM
by M K Ramadoss
Here is a news item of interest.
New virus strikes Monday
Data-destroying Chernobyl virus called
worse than 'Melissa'
April 23, 1999: 7:06 a.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO, (Reuters) - A virus that can
wipe out all the data on a personal computer's hard
drive and even make it impossible to start programs up
is set to hit next Monday, security experts warned.
The virus is a malicious piece of software code that
has been turning up in PCs for months, but the version
that will strike on Monday is the most-feared variation.
The so-called CIH or "space filler" virus originated
in Asia last summer and hits on the 26th of each
month. The CIH 1.2 that appears only once a year in
April is the "most prevalent and dangerous" form of the
virus, said Sal Viveros, marketing vice president for
Network Associates Inc., the largest computer
The CIH virus is far more dangerous to individual
computers than "Melissa," the much publicized bug that
spread relatively benign problems far and wide on the
Internet last month.
The CIH virus can irretrievably destroy data on a
user's computer, and even make the machine
inoperable, while Melissa only really caused
embarrassment, by sending a list of porn sites from an
infected computer's e-mail address book, and tied up
some corporate e-mail systems with traffic.
The CIH gets the name "space filler" because it
uses a special technique that secretly fills file space on
computers and thwarts many of the anti-virus software
programs in place before its arrival. The virus is also
called the "Chernobyl" virus because it's timed to go
off on the anniversary of the Russian nuclear accident,
one of technology's worst disasters.
The virus is designed to hide from view by inserting
itself into empty coding slots on a computer's software
utilities. Viruses are often detected because they use
up extra space on hard drives, but the "space filler"
helps CIH avoid that traditional method of detection. It
can lie dormant for months before causing damage.
The April version of the virus is particularly
damaging because it can also keep a computer from
starting up by infecting the software on which all the
PC's programs depend, the basic input/output system,
or BIOS. If the BIOS is infected, the computer will not
Most up-to-date anti-virus software will spot the
bug, if it's there, and many corporate computers have
recently upgraded their protection due to the Melissa
scare, said Network Associates' Viveros.
The biggest impact is likely to be on home
computers, said Viveros, who added that computer
users can download an anti-virus program free of
charge from his company's site. The virus is spread by
e-mail over the Internet or in pirated software. It
infects Windows 95 and Windows 98 files.
"People should make sure they have the latest
anti-virus software run on their computers," said Bill
Pollak, of Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering
Institute, which runs the Computer Emergency
Response Team, or CERT. The center has already
prepared an "incident" note that it will put on its site.
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