Recognizing the Multipartite Virus
Being infected with a virus can be a real drag ... literally. A virus can tremendously falter the performance of your computer, overwrite important files and eventually make your programs unaccessible. The infection is liable to spread so widely that normal activity such as surfing the internet may become impossible.
Viruses are composed of many different classifications, often termed by the areas they corrupt as well as their method of infection. Most are placed into the categories of file infectors, boot infectors and system infectors; all known to inflict a great amount of damage. Also common are macro viruses, which tend to be less harmful than other types. They are known to infect word processing applications by inserting unwanted text or phrases. One of the most dangerous and complex infections threatening computer users is the multipartite virus, also referred to as the multi-part of the hybrid virus.
The multipartite virus combines the characteristics of more than one type which gives it the ability to infect boot system sectors as well as program files. It often infects the section on a hard drive that contains data which instructs the machine on how to boot up. Whenever the computer starts, the virus is automatically distributed throughout the system. This enables it to spread and infect program files, causing a user to unknowingly invoke the virus, resulting in more destructive payloads being delivered into the system.
Ghostball, the first multipartite virus, was discovered by a member of the Icelandic company, FRISK Software International Corporation. Later variants include the Emperor, Tequila and Anthrax.
Signs of the Virus
Although the effects of some infections are subtle and go unnoticed, a multipartite virus tends to work fast. Here is what you should look for:
• the controllers for your drives are no longer present in the "Device Manager"
• you receive constant messages stating that virtual memory is low
• the content on your screen looks as if it's melting
• the size of your applications and files keep changing
• your hard drive reformats itself
• the extensions of your word processing documents are modified from DOC. to DOT.
• your programs take much longer to load than before or will not open at all
Security Measures against the Multipartite Virus
A multipartite virus is often quite difficult to eliminate. If the infected boot sectors are disinfected but the corrupted files are not, those sectors will be re-infected within a matter of minutes. If the infected program files are cleaned but the virus remains present in the boot sectors, those files will eventually be infected again. Because of it's multi-infectious nature, it will repeatedly infect a host system if not completely eliminated. Because of this, many security experts have suggested that the best defense against this virus is prevention opposed to a cure. They also recommend that users practice various security measures by doing the following:
- install quality anti-virus software
- make sure virus definitions of the scanner are regularly updated
- never open an attachment from an unsolicited message
- taking caution when surfing the internet and downloading files from a questionable website