The CIH virus, due to strike on Monday, may not be as serious a threat to organisations as originally thought - thanks to the Melissa virus.
CIH, which activates each year on 26 April, has the potential to wipe hard drives and damage a PC's Bios. It affects Windows 98 and Windows 95. Last April, a variant of the virus was reported to have hit up to 500 computers at a single company and clusters of 100 and 200 PCs at other locations across the US.
However, according to Mikko Hypponen, manager of anti-virus research at Data Fellows, the Melissa macro virus attack at the end of last month, which struck hundreds of thousands of company's world wide, may have actually had some benefits.
He commented: "Hundreds of thousands of people heard about the Melissa virus and downloaded anti-virus programs to check their systems. What they often found, though, was the CIH virus instead of Melissa. As a result, thousands of CIH infected machines were disinfected during the Melissa scare."
He continued: "We are not expecting catastrophes in North America or Europe. Most of the infected machines in these areas are isolated home machines. However, the situation is quite different in Asia, where the CIH virus is still very widespread in corporate computers as well."
Jack Clark, European product manager at Network Associates, said companies not running anti-virus software are taking a serious risk of encountering the CIH virus.
"More than any others, you really don't want to get hit by this one - it can render your PC unusable," he said.
Clark said that a large percentage of his customers have changed to monthly and even weekly updates of their anti-virus software.
Companies should check that their anti-virus software protects their PCs against CIH and upgrade if it doesn't.
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