Happy Christmas! Here's your virus

A new bug attacks hard drives, BIOS -- and has something to say about jolly old Saint Nick.

A nasty new virus discovered by researchers promises to do even more damage to victims than the Chernobyl virus. It has the ability not only to erase files, but also to render a PC useless by destroying its flash BIOS.

The good news is it won't execute until 25 December; the bad news is PC users without anti-virus programs may have a very bad Christmas Day.

The author of Win32.Kriz, discovered recently by researchers, sounds as if he or she has an axe to grind against religious folks. Inside the virus is a text string with a poem full of expletives criticising those who preach religion: "I don't wanna hear it, coz I know none of it's true," the author writes, according to anti-virus research firm Kaspersky Lab.

Victims of the virus -- who can be anyone using Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT -- can expect a load of trouble. The virus kills the CMOS memory, overwrites data in all files on all available drives, and then destroys the flash BIOS by using the same routine that was found in the "Win95_CIH" virus, also known as Chernobyl.

"This is a nasty one, very well written," said Dan Takata of anti-virus vendor Data Fellows. He said it's too early to tell if the virus will be widespread -- but potential victims have until 25 December to update their anti-virus programs against it.

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