Microsoft Virus Problem  

First of all let me state that this is not a hoax and this is not an urban legend. I am the person who has downloaded all the software and done all the troubleshooting necessary to take care of a problem on the computer system that I am using as I write this message.

The computer in question was purchased by Fernie about 2 1/2 years ago. When he purchased the computer, he also made sure that he got all the copies he needed of his system software on 3.5 inch 1.44 megabyte floppy disks straight from the factory. These disks were write protected at the factory by the simple expedient of having their write protect tabs removed. Thus, they can not be written on at all unless one were to cover over the write protect notch with tape.

The exact nature of the problems that we were having with the computer included glitchy operation of the Windows 3.1 operating system. As there is an extent to which Windows is naturally glitchy this is something that doesn't normally cause concern. However, things then progressed to the point that when I tried to access data on write protected floppy disks I got the lovely little message, "General Failure Reading Drive A, Abort, Retry, Ignore". I then knew that whatever problems we had with the computer were a little more serious than I had first thought. My first inclination was that it was some sort of hardware problem. But just to be sure I downloaded some anti-virus software from the net.

Wouldn't you know, the latest and greatest version of McAfee's Viruscan for Windows came back and informed me that the hard drive was infected with the STEALTH_C virus. This obnoxious virus is a boot sector infector that will not only infect the hard drive of a computer system, but also just about every floppy disk that gets used in that system from that point on. So, I cleaned up the STEALTH_C infection on the hard drive and the glitch that interefered with the computer's ability to access it's "A" drive went away. I then started checking each and every floppy disk that I could find that had ever been used in the system. Needless to say, the vast majority of them were infected and had to be cleaned off. That was done with no problem.

What surprised me, however, was that the disks that Fernie had obtained straight from Microsoft, write protected at the factory after they had the Windows 3.1 operating system loaded onto them, were also infected. The only way they could have been infected was during their initial production and processing by Microsoft. That also then implied that the STEALTH_C virus had been infecting Fernie's computer for roughly 2 1/2 years before things got to the point that system operation just about shut down.

So, words to the wise. Do not assume that because you got your computer programs from the factory and have never used pirated software that your system is clean. The only way you can be sure that your system is clean is to check it regularly with anti-virus software that has been kept current. If you find that you do have some sort of virus infection, check all the floppy disks you have to see if they have been infected also. Also do not assume that a computer virus will instantaneously crash your system. Some of them will be active at low levels for months if not years while they very slowly trash your system.

The anti-virus software that I use and recommend can be obtained from McAfee. Their new web site is:

I highly recommend that if you take advantage of their free trail offer and get an evaluation copy of their software, that you later go ahead and shell out the money to get a regular copy of the program that you use. The free trial versions drop dead in about a month. The versions you pay for will work normally, and actually purchasing the program lets you get access to needed upgrades with no hassles. New computer viruses are being written and distributed on a daily basis, and your anti-virus software needs to be updated regularly to keep current.

Note: For the record, I am not accusing Microsoft of deliberately spreading infected disks to it's customers. I think the more likely explanations for what happened would either be that a hacker got access to one of the computer systems that Microsft uses to produce it's disks and had some "fun", or that there was/is at least one of the ever infamous "disgruntled employees" at Microsoft who had a hand in producing the software disks. Regardless, the exact reason why the disks got infected are not as important as letting people know that some of the disks are infected and that everybody needs to check their systems out if they have not already done so.

- Mike Johnson/Militia at large
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These  are the personal views of Mike Johnson. He was the elected spokesman of the North Central Florida Regional Militia. They are neither endorsed nor supported by Citizens For Better Government. They are presented for informational purposes only. 
Last Revision: March 9, 1998