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

Physical damage, as in make a stream of sparks roar from the floppy portal, the monitor explode, or such? Nah. That’s all cinematographic hoohah.

T S Eliot put it well: This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper

I’ll see if I can find it, but on an older 80x86 chip (286, I believe), there was a faulty instruction that if executed, would cause an unintended short circuit and fry the processor. This was fixed in later releases of this chip.

Yes Guinastasia there was such a beast. The name escapes me at the moment but there was a virus that lurked in the olden days that would request your Hard Drive reading head go whizzing off the end of the platter (to an area that did not exist—obviously) and presto broken hard drive. Essentially it made the drive head smack into the wall of the drive housing and make with the broken.

I seem to remember something about new drives (at some point) being redesigned so this kind of nastiness simply wasn’t an option any longer.

The Jargonfile entry for ‘HCF’

See also the killer poke, which mentions damaging analog monitor electronics via software. This is also a more correct and up-to-date Jargonfile link.

In the various incarnations of my computers (all clones and almost all homebuilt, tweaked, upgraded and lovingly coddled) the manuals for the graphics cards (either ATI or more recently Matrox) always contained dire warnings about possible damage to one’s monitor that could result from playing around with the timings for the various sync signals that the card generates and sends to the monitor. Needless to say, I never tried to change any of these, but it seems to me that back in the day when it was still easy to directly access the hardware control registers, a malicious hacker could try to fry some of the components of a monitor with settings that would be beyond the ranges that the monitor was designed for.

Arrgh! On preview I see Alereon beat me to this!

I have never heard of any virus that tried this - just throwing my 2 cents into the hat.

Q.E.D. “It’s also possible, there’s a hardware problem that developed about the same time as you got the virus.”

I wish that was it. It destroyed two of my computers at the same time. AND at least one other computer belonging to a tech that claimed he could fix it. I had a couple of other guys check it out and they both sent the PC back working but it only lasted a couple of days and it crashed again. I had a new hard drive put in it to no avail.
And a new board and drive on the other. The last tech had 25 years experience w/ IBM, Prof. at Uof? w/ phD’s and all the high tech B.S. (Beyond me, I got a CS degree years ago back when BASIC was still being used, my first PC was an 8" tape drive.)

You said something about writing onto the CMOS. Man, I can’t swear to it but damn that sounds like what he told me he thought it was doing. He also told me it was time to start over. It would’ve been more expensive AND trouble to fix the old one than it was worth anymore.

We’re talking about a '93 model IBM 386 that had been upgraded every year to a pentium 2 w/ all the extras. IIRC it had 16 pin sim RAM originally, 30meg h/d, 5"floppy, no sound card, etc. might have had Windows then…I was still using DOS though and WP5.0 You know the blue screen all dos command word processing.

Needless to say, about the only thing left of the original computer was the case. :smiley:

Yeah, in a PC there’s only three places a virus can reside: In RAM, on the hard drive (either in the data area or the MBR), or in the BIOS (I shouldn’t have said CMOS, that’s non-executable memory). It’s certainly possible for a virus to rewrite the BIOS on systems that have it in flash memory, or EEPROM. It’s very possible that’s what happened in your case.

Here is one that makes your PC into a paperweight.

Isn’t there some way to nang a monitor by trying to run it with too high a refresh rate? I can’t back that up, though.

Alternatively, any software that makes the CD drive eject when your computer is facing a wall can cause problems (don’t ask).

~ Isaac

Related to this were/are viruses that could damage your hardware by forcing it beyond design limits. There were two typical approaches:
[ul][li]Reset your video card settings so the “refresh rate” was higher than the monitor could handle. At the time, 60Hz cycles were typical, but some cards could support 85Hz or higher. A high enough cycle could cause eventual damage to the monitor.[/li][li]Order your hard drive to repeat an action until the parts wear out, typically by repeatedly sending the read-write heads to sector 0 as rapidly as possible until the servo fails.[/ul][/li]
I haven’t heard of either of these being used for at least ten years.

Of course you could be talking about the worst virus ever The dreaded Bad Times Virus

You guys are posting links and saying, "here’s a virus…"

Makes it kinda hard for a person to click that link wouldn’t ya think. Especially considering the hell I went through before. :wink:

Actually, the jargon file lists this as an actual virus so I guess your wrong :frowning:

Actually, the jargon file lists this as an actual virus so I guess your wrong :frowning:

It was possible with a Hercules-type monochrome graphics card to reprogram the video processor (Motorola 6845, IIRC) to make the flashlight effect. No vertical or horizontal retrace, no beam modulation Full on, in the center of the screen, phosphor burnt out in the middle, faded around the burned part. I last saw this in 1987. Lots of tricks using direct hardware control back then…

So it seems viruses could be a whole lot nastier then they are. Is this because the writers are becoming less skilled, or because the protections are becoming better?

I thought I was the only one who hesitated.