Feeds

Vista attacked by 13-year-old virus

Stoned.Angelina socks it to 'em

Website security in corporate America

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."

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.