First console game ever to ship with virus, says Sophos Anti-Virus
Sophos, a world leader in corporate anti-virus protection, has learnt that the Japanese-language version of Atelier Marie, a role-playing game for the Sega Dreamcast games console, is infected with a destructive computer virus. The game includes a screensaver that, once installed, attempts to infect the user's PC with the highly damaging W32/Kriz virus.
"Kriz is capable of rendering a computer useless," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "It executes its payload on December 25th, which will mean a pretty miserable Christmas for anyone receiving this in their stocking. Although the Dreamcast itself is left unscathed anyone loading the screensaver onto their PC will be in for an unpleasant surprise. It's almost unbelievable that two years after this virus was first seen it is still doing the rounds."
Kool Kizz, the Japanese developers of Atelier Marie, have recalled the game from shop shelves and posted an apology to affected users on their website at www.koolkizz.co.jp. Although the infected version of the game is only likely to have been widely distributed in Japan, Sophos is advising anyone who has a copy to either return or destroy it.
Kriz will erase the CMOS setup and attempt to corrupt a computer's BIOS chip in a similar way to the CIH (aka Chernobyl) virus. This effectively paralyses the entire computer, making it unusable and forcing the user to replace the entire chip.
The virus also attempts to overwrite all files on local hard disks and network drives with garbage.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.