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If you can read this -- then you're one of the lucky ones. One of the survivors. For today, Monday 26 April 1999, is the day the deadly flesh-eating Chernobyl virus is set to strike PCs all over the world, coinciding with the thirteenth anniversary of the infamous nuclear accident in Russia. According to the experts, it has the potential to erase hard drives and corrupt a PC's BIOS. Hopefully, the fall-out from today's viral nonsense won't be as devastating as the events in Chernobyl in 1986, but it could still give punters a few sniffles. If you're susceptible, this latest variation of the CIH Virus will give your hard drive such a kicking it may be kinder to trash it and put it out of its misery rather than trying to treat it. The official line from the virus vice squad at bug-busters Symantec is that CIH infects 32-bit Windows 95/98/NT executable files. "When an infected program is run, it infects the computer's memory, then infecting new files as they are opened," said a bug buster. "The virus attempts to modify or corrupt certain types of Flash BIOS, software that initialises and manages relationships and data flow between the system devices, including the hard drive, serial and parallel ports and the keyboard. "By overwriting part of the BIOS, CIH can keep a computer from starting up when the power is turned on. "The virus first infects by looking for empty, unused spaces in the file, then it breaks itself up into smaller pieces and hides in these unused spaces," he said. If you think you've been lucky today and escaped this Chernobyl misery, think again. While Chernobyl is active today, other strains of the virus could become active on 26 June -- or in some cases, on the 26th day of every month. Good grief, is there no respite from this despair? ®

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