By Ron VandenBoom
It used to be a warning to kids of old to behave themselves lest they receive a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking instead of a treat.
Today the term applies to a new computer virus that could have the same effect on your home computer that a lump of coal had on the stockings of earlier generations.
The virus, also known as W32.Kriz, and also as the Christmas Virus, infects Windows 95/98 and Windows NT operating systems.
The Christmas Virus derived its name because it is scheduled to unleash its cargo on Dec. 15, 1999.
It is reported by Symantecs AntiVirus Research Center to be much more destructive than the Melissa worm that struck PCs earlier this year, but is said not to be as contagious as Melissa.
The virus enters the computers memory and will attempt to infect any files opened by the user or applications.
The Christmas Virus has the ability to destroy computer programs like word processing applications and games and in some cases cause permanent harm to a computers motherboard by flashing the BIOS preventing the computer from booting-up properly. It is possible the CMOS will also be cleared requiring the user to have to reset the date and time, hard drives and floppy drives settings, will have to be restored. It is also said to have the ability to mutate so infections on different machines may not look alike.
The virus can also modify the KERNEL32.Dll file creating a duplicate file named KRIZED.TT6. If this file is found in the Windows system directory, it should be deleted. Once the infection sets in, the user will also have to replace the KERNEL32.Dll file with a clean backup. The same can be true of some PE files.
Fortunately, most recent or updated virus protection programs can detect the Lump of Coal in operating systems, so it is strongly recommended users keep their systems updated.
The virus is most commonly received in e-mail executable files.
Other recent virus warnings computer operators may have received in their e-mail have been proven to be hoaxes, the Havre Daily News has learned.
Warnings concerning CELCOM Screen savers, the SandMan virus, Win A Holiday, and Join The Crew or Penpals virus, are not viruses and present no danger to computers.
The Join The Crew and Penpals warnings are, in fact, messages that were alleged to have been created on bulletin board or message board sites. The messages are suspected to have been posted by computer operators who want to see how long it will take for the posted warning to run the e-mail circuit before it is returned to them by a concerned friend.
Concern over Internet viruses can be eased by buying or downloading a recent version of anti-virus software for your computer or updating your current software at the manufactures home page.
Another effective way of checking on warnings received in e-mail messages is to visit the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center at www.sarc.com.