vendors had one of their busiest years yet in 1998, with a greater
number of significant new viruses appearing than ever before.
According to a report by Sophos, seven major new virus types were
discovered last year.
The most interesting and possibly the most dangerous discovery
was CIH, the first hardware-attacking virus. Although it did not
appear until June, CIH was the eighth most reported virus of 1998.
Along with Marburg, CIH also marked the resurgence of parasitic
viruses which spread by attaching themselves to .EXE files.
Other viruses proved over-hyped. "Strange Brew", the first virus
to infect Java applications, appeared in August. It caused a flurry
of concern, which was largely unfounded because the virus infects
Java applications, and cannot spread via web-based Java. In
addition, the first Visual Basic Script (VBS) viruses were
discovered in October.
Microsoft Office 97 was a major target for virus writers in 1998
with the appearance of three new virus types. April saw the first
Access virus, while "StrangeDays" and "Shiver" marked the first
"cross-infectors" able to contaminate both Word and Excel files
with the same code. The last major component of the Office 97 suite
fell victim to attack right at the end of the year in December,
with the emergence of PM97/Attach, a virus which infects
Even Windows NT was not immune. In December, "Remote Explorer"
appeared, the first virus which is able to run as an NT
"The number of new virus types emerging has made 1998 a very
interesting year," said Paul Ducklin, head of research at Sophos.
"Whilst keeping abreast of developments, however, we must be
careful not to lose sight of the old virus types. After all, the
number one virus reported to Sophos in 1998 was the macro virus,