Feeds

Vista attacked by 13-year-old virus

Stoned.Angelina socks it to 'em

Seven Steps to Software Security

Updated A batch of laptops pre-installed with Windows Vista Home Premium was found to have been infected with a 13-year-old boot sector virus.

Those of you with a long memory will vividly recall the year 1994: Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain died, South Africa held its first multi-racial elections, and Tony Blair became leader of the Labour party. Oh, and Microsoft's operating system was the quaint, pre-NT Windows for Workgroups.

But it was a year that also saw the arrival of a boot sector computer virus known as Stoned.Angelina which moved the original master boot record to cylinder 0, head 0, sector 9.

It would appear that this teenage virus has not yet been consigned to the history books.

According to Virus Bulletin, the consignment of infected Medion laptops – which could number anything up to 100,000 shipments – had been sold in Danish and German branches of retail giant Aldi.

The computers had been loaded with Microsoft's latest operating system Vista and Bullguard's anti-virus software, which failed to detect and remove the malware.

Although the infection itself is harmless, Stoned.Angelina will undoubtedly have left Microsoft and Bullguard execs blushing with embarrassment about the apparent flaws in their software which allowed an ancient virus to slip through the back door.

On its website Bullguard offered some reassurance to Medion customers hit by the virus:

"Stoned.Angelina is a low-risk boot virus that infects the MBR (Master Boot Record) of hard disks. This is a very old virus. Apart from its ability to spread from computer to computer, it carries no payload (damage) to the systems it infects."

It added that the virus commonly spreads by being booted from an infected floppy disk, and causes no damage to the operating system.

Virus Bulletin technical consultant John Hawes said: "This is a reminder that old viruses never really die.

"Malware that's been off the radar for years often pops up when least expected, after someone digs out an old floppy or boots up an ancient system, and security firms have a duty to maintain protection against older threats for just this kind of eventuality." ®

Update

Bullguard contacted The Register to point out that although the firm's software failed to remove the virus it had in fact detected the presence of the ancient malware on the affected Vista machines.

The firm's PR and technology consultant Benjamin Verduign told us that because the virus had laid dormant for so long signature files were no longer present in its anti-virus software to clean up the virus.

He explained that software and anti-virus firms have to regularly make judgement calls over which signature files should be present in the boot sector. Too many could impact the speed at which a machine boots which can be frustrating for the user, Verduign said.

He conceded that the "unfortunate" issue could cause embarrassment for Microsoft and Bullguard but also pointed out that the anti-virus firm's development team had quickly provided a "tailor-made" Vista fix as soon as it learned of the problem.

Asked if this means we could see a resurgence of old viruses attacking new operating systems, Verduign said: "This is not so much a wake-up call but more a reminder" and added that it would be impossible to ever "completely eradicate a virus."

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.