Virus to strike Christmas day

An antivirus software company has discovered a Windows virus that could severely dampen the Christmas spirit. The virus has the potential to wreak even more havoc than that inflicted on computer users worldwide by the Chernobyl virus in April this year, according to information from Central Command and its Kaspersky Lab research unit.

Chernobyl, also known as CIH 1.2, didn't have much of an effect in the US, but users in Europe and Asia were not so fortunate. For instance, the South Korean government said that the virus hit 244,000 PCs.

The new Chernobyl-like threat is set to activate on Christmas Day (December 25). The decidedly unfestive virus is known as Win32.Kriz, Win32Kriz.3740, or Win32.Kriz.3862, according to Central Command.

Fellow antivirus software vendor Symantec also posted information about the virus on its Antivirus Research Center Web site this week.

Mode of attack

Win32.Kriz is a polymorphic virus, one that manages to hide its identity by altering its binary pattern every time it infects a new file.

Win32.Kriz replicates under Windows 32-bit systems -- Windows 95, 98, and NT -- and infects PE (portable executable) Windows program files with the .exe (executable) and .scr (screen saver) file name extensions along with Windows kernel.32.dll system library, according to both Central Command and Symantec.

The system library infection allows the virus to stay memory resident -- within a computer's memory all the time -- during an entire Windows session.

Win32.Kriz can infect files that are copied, opened and moved, according to information on Central Command's Web site. The virus kills the CMOS memory of any infected system -- the memory that stores a computer's setup configuration -- and overwrites the data in all files on all available drives.

On December 25 the virus destroys the flash BIOS using the same routine as found in the Chernobyl virus, Central Command says. The result is that users are unable to boot their computers properly or control the cursor.

The virus also triggers a message filled with anti-religion lyrics.

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