A Time Bomb Called "Magistr"

05 Apr 2001
Virus News

Magistr follows in the footsteps of the infamous "Chernobyl" virus

Cambridge, United Kingdom, April 6, 2001 - Because of the significant increase in the number of infections caused by the recently discovered "Magistr" virus, Kaspersky Lab, an international data-security software-development company, are issuing a second warning about the threat this malicious code poses, and recommend computer users perform a full virus-check of their computers using KasperskyTM Anti-Virus with the latest updates installed and maximum scanning options switched on.

As is known, exactly 1 month since the day of the first computer infection, Magistr deletes all files from local and network disks, discards the CMOS memory settings and destroys data in FLASH BIOS microchips. Taking into account that the first reports about infection with this virus were received in the middle of March, Kaspersky Lab expects a real avalanche of destructive incidents by Magistr to happen in the middle-end of April. As a result, Magistr can cause the loss of important information and infect computer hardware.

"We classify Magistr as a so-called 'sleeping' virus that usually insidiously operates on infected computers until the time when it activates its destructive payload," said Denis Zenkin, Head of Corporate Communications for Kaspersky Lab.

The same thing happened with the "Chernobyl" virus about two years ago: many people refused to believe in this virus' existence, and some anti-virus vendors even tried to accuse Kaspersky Lab of spreading virus hysteria. However, soon the prediction was confirmed, and in April 1999, the virus disabled hundreds of thousands of unprotected computers worldwide, causing data loss and hardware fault.

Kaspersky Labhas full reason to believe that the same thing could happen with the Magistr virus because of the significantly increased number of reports about infections resulting from the virus.

"The distinctive feature of Magistr is that it contains e-mail addresses of the last ten computers that were infected, and possibly still are infected, before reaching the current destination," said Eugene Kaspersky, Head of Anti-Virus Research. "A study of the list of previously infected computers demonstrates the extremely wide spreading capability of the virus that includes Poland, the United States and United Kingdom, Brazil, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, France, Switzerland and many other countries." After a detailed analysis of the existing details regarding Magistr's prevalence, Kaspersky Lab estimates the number of computers that are still infected with the virus at about 5,000 units.

"It is important to emphasize that this number is only the tip of the iceberg, while the real scope of the virus epidemic is nearly impossible to calculate," added Eugene Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Lab has performed an internal test of the most popular anti-virus software, and has come to the realization that not all of them are capable of detecting and effectively removing an infection with such a technologically advanced polymorphic virus as Magistr. Therefore, we recommend users of other anti-virus programs download a FREE demo version of Kaspersky Anti-Virus, enable the latest virus-signatures updates and perform a comprehensive virus-check of your computer.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus can be purchased in the Kaspersky Lab online store or from a worldwide network of Kaspersky Anti-Virus distributors and resellers.