It's not the Humboldt Crud - Macs afflicted with viruses
Date: January 1989
Keywords: Macintosh virus trojan horse worm update nvir sneak strain scores
(The following stories are adapted from a variety of sources, primarily
information developed by the Academic Computing staff at Humboldt State
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
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.É
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
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.
- nVIR strain -- There are at least three varieties belonging to
this strain. At HSU it appears the mildest of the three viruses has
been diagnosed. It does not do much damage. (It has appeared at The
Lumberjack, the Bookstore and the Mac Lab in Founders 211.)
- Sneak strain -- This is very rare. There have been no reports of
this malady in recent months. Not much is known about it.
- SCORES virus -- This one is extremely complex and dangerous. It
has the potential of deleting an entire disk. This should be handled
It works on a time-clock format: once it installs itself it waits for
three days before becoming active. If SCORES is not removed by then,
files may start to disappear.
- Worm -- This is not considered a virus in the true sense, but it
can eat through applications, thus destroy them. It usually attacks
specific programs, but fortunately it is uncommon to rare. It is
difficult to detect with available software.
- Trojan Horse -- This also is not really a virus. It is usually an
innocent-looking application -- but carries a hidden code. When it
attacks, specific applications or fonts are its target. It also is
difficult to detect.
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