The worst warnings over the Chernobyl, or CIH, virus appeared mostly unfounded last week - in Western nations. After its activation date passed, just a handful of victims were harmed in Europe and the US.
But the same was not true in Asia, where about 500,000 computers were damaged - 300,000 of them in South Korea.
The virus was timed to go off on 26 April - the 13th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster - and was particularly destructive, attacking both the hard disk and BIOS of host computers.
Although stories have emerged of Westerners waking up to find almost-finished novels deleted, the impact in Asia was far greater, with government offices, schools and businesses reporting dead or damaged PCs.
Many reasons were suggested as to why the virus had a more serious impact in Asia, including the more widespread use of antivirus software in the West. But Network Associates claimed that the most likely explanation was the prevalence of pirated software in Asiadownloaded from the Internet.
In summer 1998 a Taiwanese student, Chen Ing-hau, wrote the virus and gave it his initials.
It was spread worldwide through Email attachments - in much the same way as the Melissa virus last month. The main entry of the virus into the UK has been tracked to a free CD-ROM game that had been downloaded from the Internet.
Variations of the CIH virus have been discovered but are all picked up and deleted by existing antivirus software.
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