Was there *ever* a virus that could delete/format your hard drive?

I have heard this a lot over the years, you know, the hoax warning: Beware the MoFo Virus It will do awful things (goes on to list various awful things)…and destroy your hard drive! I have cleaned up my share of viruses, some have predominately screwed DLL files and what not, but I have yet to see one that could actually format (much less) * destroy * a HD. I heard once about a various that could actually mark various large sectors of a HD as bad, much like scandisk, but never seen it.
What’s the deal? True of false?


Virii could very, very easily be written to do pretty much anything to a computer. They’re basically computer programs and programs are limited only by the OS (eg with MS you can’t write to kernel space, etc).

The tricky bit is propagating it to other computers.

The only reason that the virii in the news lately have not done anything bad is simply because the original creators decided not to. Thats it. Scary but true.

There used to be those kind of viruses in the olden days of 5-1/4" floppy disks, where you had to be careful what strange disk you ran. Those programs still run today.

** ravage2 ** wrote…

Yes, they * could *, I mean, even I could write a simple batch file or something more complex and send it to some one with a note saying “Hey, check out this new game I got!”. But has any one ever seen one that actually does this. A virus loose in the wild that is, not a batch file as I discribed.

Sorry, quick rant:

“Virii”. Please take your silly pseudo-classical plurals elsewhere. “Viruses”, please.



Not to mention the most famous of them all: Michealangelo.

Viruses that reformat hard drives usually did that as a payload – you’d get infected and they’d lie in wait for some time until they did it to allow them time to spread.

They’re somewhat out of fashion – the goal nowadays is to spread as rapidly as possible via networks. But sooner or later someone will probably decide to add a format command to their e-mail virus and off we go.

I’m no PC Geek, but I’ve had two different computers wiped out (same time) by a virus that my wife or kids downloaded from somewhere. This was a few years ago BTW. I had two or three “experts” repair the computers…yeah okay, neither one of them ever worked right again. They are sitting in storage right now.

It may not be a killer virus like you’re describing but the NYB?(don’t know what strain/version) that got me cost me two IBM’s a 486 and a 586. They’ve been wiped clean, reformatted, new hardware, software, replaced a harddrive…etc
Once it got in the system, it trashed everything.

I actually got them running again, in fact a couple of times, but after a day or two, it’d start screwing up and then freeze up…and down again. Like I said, I’m no geek but I’ve built a computer or two. Once this sucker gets ahold…it’s toast.

of course anti-virus is a lot better now too. :slight_smile:

No virus is that tenacious. If you flash the BIOS, reformat and repartition the harddrive, and rebuild the MBR, it will be clean, no matter what. If it continues to crash, then it’s a hardware issue unrelated to any virus infection you may have had.

Q.E.D. I think obviously something was missed or it wouldn’t still be there. But I’ll be damned if I know where it is. Maybe it found its way onto some systems disk that I missed and got reloaded. I finally got tired of f***ing with it and got a couple of new PC’s and stored the others. They had been upgraded so much no-one could even recognize them anymore.

Heh…a tech asked me, “What is it, your computer…type model etc.”

I just looked at him and said, Yeah right. Well it started out as a typewriter. :smiley:

Where ya at Dex?

Definitely. If you get a really nasty one like that, do all the things I suggested above (I’m not aware of any viruses that write themselves into the CMOS, but it’s possible), and start off with completely clean installation media.

It’s also possible, there’s a hardware problem that developed about the same time as you got the virus. I know just how frustrating recurring computer problems can be, especially when you think you’ve tried everything to fix it. I’ve lost my temper with more than one stubborn PC problem.

Hmm, of course this lacks a certain something as a virus, but it demonstrates the principle…

#include <stdio.h>
puts("Oh dear, you didn’t want to do that
system(“FORMAT C: /Q”);

I’m not about to try this, any volunteers?

My high school computer teacher told me there used to be a virus that would focus all the electrons into one spot and burn a hole in your monitor (I guess it was easier to do back then). Anyone hear of this? I want to say ‘turkey’ virus, but maybe b/c it’s Thanksgiving :slight_smile:

This just isn’t possible (and never was). The monitor’s scan circuitry is completely independent of the CPU. Even if the beam could be stopped and focused one one spot, it would only damage the phosphor at that spot. It wouldn’t generate enough heat to burn a hole through.

Gaaahhhhh… you’re infected!!!

The W32.CIH (Chernobyl) virus flashed the BIOS chip with garbage, hosing the system quite thoroughly until a new motherboard was purchased. In theory one could just replace or hotflash the BIOS chip, but unfortunately they were usually not socketed. Cutting it off and replacing it cost more than a new motherboard. Since this time, the BIOS now requires a flash program to authenticate before it allows itself to be overwritten.

Back in the days before the IBM compatible PC, many systems had monitors that were directly controlled by the system. One had to be carefull not to cause screen burn in, or, Ogg forbid, hose the phosphor in a way similar to what Bob55 described. Of course, like Q.E.D. noted, it wouldn’t actually burn a PHYSICAL hole in the screen.

I think the one I was thinking of was the Michael Angelo virus, it comes alive on his birthday and has sex with your dog or something. We encountered it where I worked and the techie just used some virus killer he had on a floppy and that was it. I also heard (long ago) about a “program” someone had given to the
Unix system at UCSB. It (supposedly) would pop up one day and all the terminals would print out “I want a cookie” if within a certain period of time the password “Oreo” was not entered, the system would “die”.
Now mind you this was WAY before my computer days (I had an account on the UNIX system at UCSB when I was 11-12 years old – believe it or not - that’s where I was told about this) and the particulars of how this could be were lost on me, though I don’t recall any one calling it a virus. The idea of getting a virus that Zaps your BIOS scares me. I thought about updating my BIOS one time. After reading the instructions on the sight where the upgrade came from, I decided I might just be better off leaving things the way they were.

In any case, they DO exist?!? I haven’t ever seen one. I also don’t get any spam. Guess I’m just lucky.

I find this hard to believe, not only because television technology was already well established (why reinhvent the wheel?), but also such control would have required a big whack of processor overhead. I don’t even think early microprocessors had enough power to effect direct control. I’ve looked, but so dfar I haven’t found anything that supports your claim. I’m not claiming it’s impossible, but it seems rather unlikely to me.

Was there ever a virus that could cause physical damage to one’s computer?