Computer viruses can sneak past the best anti-virus protection
April 22, 2001
By JIM BROOKS
Even a good anti-virus program can't cover everything.
That's the real-world lesson I learned this week when my computer was
rendered useless by a trojan horse called Win32.subseven.22.
I have been using a free anti-virus program called InoculateIT
Personal Edition, and it has performed well. It has alerted me twice
of viruses it has detected -- one of which was on an old floppy disk
I had in my desk I was going to use.
The software has cleaned up the viruses without problems. It has been
like a watchdog over any files I've downloaded or tried to run.
But even InoculateIT PE has its limits.
Late one Thursday night, I downloaded a file that had the SubSeven
trojan horse and tried to open the file. The InoculateIT software did
just what it was supposed to -- it alerted me to the fact the
software was a trojan and correctly identified it.
Unfortunately, it couldn't stop it from installing itself on my computer.
I know the anti-virus software does a scan when the computer
restarts, so I shut down the computer and restarted.
On startup, the anti-virus program identified the trojan horse
program, but couldn't remove it.
The effect of the trojan horse was dramatic. I was unable to run 90
percent of the applications on my computer. I couldn't run the
anti-virus software to try to remove the SubSeven trojan. I couldn't
send or receive e-mail to ask for help from the software company. I
couldn't use a Web browser to find a site for help.
My computer was dead in the water.
Fortunately, my wife and kids' computer was available, and I set
about finding a cure for my PC.
It didn't take long to locate. A company called F-Secure had what I
needed to eradicate SubSeven.
In addition to the many versions of their F-Secure anti-virus
software, they still give away a program called F-PROT, which is a
DOS program that remains one of the top virus killers I've ever used.
Since it is a DOS program, it's a little clunky to use. And F-Secure
has a time limit on each version, so you have to go back on a regular
basis to download the updated version, but you need to update your
anti-virus software with updates regularly anyway.
F-PROT can't give you the always-running-in-the-background protection
that InoculateIT and F-Secure can, but this makes the second or third
time it has saved my PC from a nasty computer virus or bug.
InoculateIT PE tried to eliminate the virus, and may have done so had
I updated my anti-virus files recently. You can bet that was the
first thing I did once my PC was back online -- the second thing was
to conduct a thorough anti-virus scan of my computer.
For information on F-Prot, or to find out more about F-Secure, visit www.f-prot.com.
RADIO OFFLINE. The Golden Age of Radio seemed to return,
particularly to AM radio stations when streaming audio allowed
computer users to listen online anywhere in the world.
But a number of stations have ended their online broadcasts in the
wake of higher royalties that will be required to be paid to
performers in their commercials.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists' contract
specifies that union performers receive 300 percent of their normal
fee if a radio commercial is streamed online.
The issue is simple. The greater the exposure a radio commercial
gets, the more it is worth. Likewise, the more the performer should
A commercial spot broadcast over the air by a 1,000-watt radio
station will have only a small fraction of the potential exposure it
could have if streamed online. The difference in fees could be substantial.
Radio stations owned by Clear Channel and other companies stopped
streaming their radio stations recently in the wake of paying higher fees.
A message at the union's Web site noted that the requirement to pay
royalties for streamed commercials was in effect approved with the
passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998.
No royalty fee schedule was setup after the law was passed, though
the union notes that the radio stations pulled their webcasts the
week that the U.S. Copyright Office received testimony and arguments
on the rates that will be set under this DMCA legislation.
The royalties will also be set for music that is webcast by radio
stations. We undoubtedly will be hearing more on this, but probably
without music or commercials streamed online.
CANCER PROGRAM NO HOAX. If you received an e-mail or read
about plans to sign up computer owners who can ``donate'' their
computer time to a cancer research program, you should know that the
program is a legitimate one.
The project is sponsored by Intel and United Devices Inc., as well as
the American Cancer Society, the National Foundation for Cancer
Research and the University of Oxford.
In simple terms, the program uses your computer processing power
during periods when the computer is turned on but not used.
The technology was developed by United Devices, and includes a
special screensaver. Whenever the screensaver is showing on a
participating PC, it becomes one part of a huge ``virtual computer.''
By combining the computer power from thousands (or millions) of PCs,
United Devices can offer some heavy-hitting processing to companies
that may use it for cancer research.
According to a United Devices press release, the computing power
possible could be ten times more powerful than today's highest
United Devices developed the peer-to-peer application that links all
the computers together. The first computations will be used for the
National Foundation for Cancer Research involving leukemia and
The peer-to-peer distributed computing technology was first created
and used in conjunction with the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence) program. Its application is being developed for other
purposes, and United Devices plans to make the sale of access to a
``virtual supercomputer'' a reality soon.
To participate or find out more information, visit www.intel.com/cure.
E-MAIL TAKES TIME. A survey by the Gartner research firm found
that the average workers almost an hour each day handling
work-related e-mail messages.
Nearly one-fourth those surveyed spend more than one hour on
Apparently, e-mail is replacing the water cooler as the avenue for
gossip and company chat.
The survey of 330 business e-mail users also found that 34 percent of
the messages workers received didn't contain any vital information
the workers needed to better perform their jobs.
Workers should remember that most employers have the right to know
the content of any e-mail sent or received on a computer at work --
and many companies archive all e-mails.