An extraordinary new form of virus that can actually be updated by a virus-writer after it has infected a computer has been discovered propagating in the wild by Symantec's anti-virus laboratories.
Once "W95.Babylonia Y2K" has contaminated a PC, Babylonia will wait until an Internet connection has been established and then download vital component files. This raises the possibility that the virus could be modified on the fly in order to evade detection.
Babylonia does not have a particularly malicious payload and is only designed to display annoying messages on New Year's Day. However, as Symantec technical manager Kevin Street point outs, the new capabilities of the virus make it stand out. "The potential is terrifying," he says. The scary part isn't what it's currently doing but what it has the potential to do. Just like Melissa was the first virus to really make use of email, it opens up the idea of copycats making viruses that can download anything over the Internet."
Street says the new virus, created by the 29A virus-writing group, has the power to open up a computer to a whole new world of danger. "The virus can act as the transfer process for anything else. It could download a file to format your hard-drive or to dump your 'my documents' folder."
Babylonia is disguised as a Y2K fix executable. Symantec has had a number of reports of Babylonia infections and says that it is spreading quickly worldwide via the text based chat application MIRC. It has been categorised as high to medium risk.