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It's not the Humboldt Crud - Macs afflicted with viruses



Author: Editor
Date: January 1989
Keywords: Macintosh virus trojan horse worm update nvir sneak strain scores
Text: (The following stories are adapted from a variety of sources, primarily information developed by the Academic Computing staff at Humboldt State University.) You get the feeling that some clever personal computer nerd is chuckling to himself as he watches us scramble to undo his mischief. It's much like a Halloween trick gone bad without the option of a treat. But the virus is with us, especially Macintosh users for some unknown reason, and we probably will be dealing with it for some time. The campus is especially open to infection because of the constant pirating and swapping of software. But let's go to the beginning. First, a virus is a self-replicating piece of computer code designed to attach itself to computer programs, gain control of the computer and initiate undesirable computer operations. It is called a virus because it has the ability to "spread" by writing itself to other applications and/or files. It might have been called a mink because of its behavior. The virus can spread from application to application on the same disk or even "infect" applications on another disk or hard disk. The nature of the Macintosh makes it a good target for the virus -- because the Mac is relatively simple to program. With some programming experience, a person can launch a program aimed at the personal computer we all have become attached to. Here are the viruses likely to infect your Macintosh: A solution used at Humboldt State was the development of a placebo -- an artificial virus that fools the real virus (the nVIR strain) into thinking it already is installed. It then looks elsewhere for other applications to infect. One of the unfortunate side effects of the placebo is that it tests positive when a virus detection program is run. That leaves the users helpless, not knowing whether or not their software is stricken. See other stories on how to keep your systems virus-free and eradicate the virus if you get it. If you want more information about viruses, please see the November issue of MacWorld or the September issue of MacUser. Better yet, come to the SMUG meeting Monday, Jan. 9.


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