Boot sector viruses still true to Form

October 11, 1999 Sophos Press Release

SYDNEY - While macro viruses still dominate the international IT battlefield, Sophos has reported the resurfacing of an "ancient" boot sector virus, called Form, into its Top ten reported viruses around the world.

Sophos, one of the world's leading developers of anti-virus software for networks, says Form has been around for almost ten years... it used to top the charts regularly until the Microsoft Office viruses appeared.

"Form has maintained a constant presence - and threat - just outside the Top ten ever since," according to Richard Baldry, Director of Sophos Australia. "Boot sector viruses, which infect floppy disks, continue to pose a problem, and computer users should be careful not to focus purely on the macro virus problem."

Macro viruses - such as Melissa, Ethan, Story and Crown-B - are still the main feature of Sophos's Top ten, highlighting them as the most prevalent danger for PC users around the world. However, because people rarely tend to throw floppy disks out, boot sector viruses are very difficult to eradicate completely. Disks that haven't been used for years can remain infected, and a PC can be reinfected when an infected floppy is left in the computer and the computer booted.

Boot sector viruses can be easily avoided by disabling floppy disk booting. "You can eliminate 100% of pure boot sector viruses for free simply by changing the CMOS boot settings to disable floppy booting." says Sean Richmond, Senior Support Engineer at Sophos. "This facility is available in the system boot-time menu on most modern PCs."

Sophos has been a world leader in teaching systems administrators and users how to deal with the threat of computer viruses. Its acclaimed Anti-Virus Workshops, in which students are given hands-on experience of the tools and techniques to deal with a virus attack will be launched in Australia before the end of the year.