Jack Clark, product manager with anti-virus company Network Associates, told ZDNet UK News this morning that a UK college, which he refused to name, was attacked by the CIH/Chernobyl virus Monday morning. CIH activates on the 26th of each month.
More dangerous than Melissa, CIH attacks Windows 95 and Windows 98 and can wipe hard drives. Experts have warned that the April 26 variety of CIH is its most dangerous strain: it infects a PC's BIOS preventing users starting their machines. Clark confirmed the college had been hit by this strain. "Students turning up this morning found they could not turn on their machines," said Clark. "There is someone frantically running round as we speak installing software to get rid of the virus."
According to Clark, last month's Melissa episode forced companies and individuals to update their anti-virus software cushioning the blow of CIH: "Apart from a few single users the damage seems to be fairly limited," Clark said.
Another anti-virus company, Symantec, agreed with Clark's comments. A spokeswoman said: "We have had a lot of calls from people worried about the virus and keen to find out if their software protects them, but only one or two cases of infections."
Mikko Hypponen, manager of anti-virus research at Data Fellows in Cambridge said in a prepared statement that although users in Europe may escape unscathed the virus may prove more damaging in Asia: "We are not expecting catastrophes in North America or Europe... the situation is quite different in Asia, where the CIH virus is still very widespread in corporate computers."
This is borne out by statistics from Data Fellows. According to the firm 200 companies in Singapore have been hit by CIH today. The South African police force has also fallen victim with 140 workstations disabled.
In the UK one company has had 12 gigabytes of data wiped out a spokesman said.
Take me to the Melissa Virus special.