Skip to main content
© Bros

A computer is like sex!
If you've tried it, you can't get along without it;
if you haven't, you don't know what the fuss is about.
Ronny Hatlemark

Alle har rett til å ha sine egne meninger,
bare de stemmer overens med mine...
Torbjørn Ose
(Only Thor knows what THAT means)

THE ST'S VIRUS PART....UH...ER...XII (I THINK)

by Richard Karsmakers

The Zillionth new "VDU" version...

You might have read it somewhere already...there's a new version
of the "Virus Destruction Utility" available: Version 3.5. There
have been some major revisions in the update service, so that
registered owners will retain the right to get a cheaper update,
but will no longer receive update notices anymore. Instead, an
update will become available at around each month. This ensures
quick recognition of the latest viruses and innocent bootsectors,
and takes care that I can spend more time programming instead of
writing update notices. More in short about the "Virus
Destruction Utility" version 3.5 after the stars (What's
improved? How can one get it?).

Spending ages and ages debugging

I have spent the last month viciously reprogramming my "VDU".
For over two weeks, I have been programming for fourteen hours a
day, seven days a week. Every day at about nine AM, I got out of
bed, hastily washed my face and then started to do some hectic
coding. Every night at about eleven PM I would wash my face and
go to bed again, to start the same routine the next day over and
over again. I barely found time to eat. I barely found time to
party. I barely found time to watch TV. I even barely found time
to play games and write the articles for this issue of ST NEWS.
But, some way or another, I succeeded in finishing just about
everything.
And the result is something I am quite proud of. Every single
routine in the "VDU" is now blatantly optimized, so that speed
increases of over 50% are not seldom to be noticed in this
version! Further, ALL the last and very annoying bugs have
disappeared. Even the bugs that were in the earlier "VDU"
versions due to mistakes in the ST's operating system have been
totally avoided because of the desperate recoding I did. All
modesty aside (I tend to do that more and more often, don't I?),
I think there is no better virus killer then mine anywhere -
surely at the ridiculously low price it is sold at. The "VDU" is
the Jason Becker/Yngwie Malmsteen/Rolls Royce/Neil Peart/Napalm
Death among the virus killers. The main strength of the "VDU" is
in what you do NOT see. Many harmless reset-resistant application
or system-vector modifications are 'not noticed' - simply because
they're recognized and found not to be harmful!
Why panic someone when nothing is the matter? If only you knew
how many days of coding went into the 'system status' screen, to
assure that dozens of applications are recognized not to create
'suspected' system variables... Ough! My head starts aching again
at the sheer thought.

The prez sez...

In April's issue of the English magazine "ST World", someone
reviewing version 3.2 (October 1988!) of the "VDU" concluded it
to be a 'well designed and comprehensive utility which has much
to offer in the battle to stamp out the evil computer virus'.
When I had my dad read it, even he (being a very down-to-earth
guy) began to be a bit proud of his none-too-good son. A recent
issue of "ST Amiga Format" was also very positive about the
"VDU" (especially about the price).
In "Atari ST User" of June, the "VDU" (again version 3.2!) was
also reviewed: A whole page in full color! According to this
review, written by Roland Waddilove, it is 'well written and
works fine'.
In this review, however, there are still some minor things that
I'd like point out to be fairly wrong.
* "Despite widespread publicity ST viruses are still fairly rare"
OK. I totally agree you should make people panic, but thousands
of people worldwide have viruses on their disks. And when you get
one, the chance of having 10 times as much each day you progress
is very likely.
* "The most likely place where you'll get viruses is the PD"
OK. But don't even out the 'illegal circuit', in which just
about EVERYONE participates (be it even to test out a program
before buying it).
* "You can quite easily destroy boot sector viruses without going
to the expense of buying a virus killer. Simply use a PD sector
editor to zero the first two bytes of the disk"
Like hell you can! Who knows the difference between a legitimate
auto-booter and a virus? By the way: An 'expense' of £6.95 is
quite affordable.
* "It can kill all known viruses; what about the unknown ones?"
Tsk, tsk. Mr. Waddilove obviously didn't find any, or he would
have encountered the "Virus Probability Factor". Alas! he didn't
so he souldn't.

But I guess things are going well with the "VDU" in England
(distribution there is done through Excel Software, who acquired
the UK rights - thanks Mr. Niall McKiernon!). And there will be
more reviews in other magazines as well, so I'm told; I can
hardly wait! The rights for Holland have now also been sold to
the Atari Computerclub Nederland where are cranked-up version can
be bought at a bit under 50 Dutch guilders (Dutch program, Dutch
printed-out manual and packaging inclusive). This version should
be in the shops in Holland and Belgium by now.
In all countries apart from Belgium, Holland and the UK, people
can still buy the "VDU" directly from me. People from Belgium of
Holland ordering it still directly through me will get the usual
English program with English manual.
Even as you read this, negotiations with a large U.S./U.K.
company should have been rounded off with regard to world rights
and world distribution.

The Virus Checksum Utility ("VCU")

Momentarily, I am designing a small utility that will soon be
added to the "VDU" package: The "Virus Checksum Utility". This
program will allow you to monitor changes in your files, thus
enabling fast detection of those horrible link-viruses (even
unknown types).
You simply run the program, specify the drive/partition you want
to check, and the program will calculate fast checksums of each
file, and store them in the unused bytes of each file's directory
entry. When running the "VCU" a second time, it will again
calculate the checksums and compare them with those that are
already stored. When a difference occurs, the likelihood of link-
virus infection is almost definite.
I believe that this way of storing the checksum (in each file's
directory entry) is much more userfriendly than the huge
databases that some other viruskillers save to disk; databases
containing filenames, file lengths and checksums. My new method
doesn't use up ANY storage space on your floppy-or harddisk, and
file confusion (that e.g. happens when two files have the same
name but are otherwise different) doesn't occur. Another method
that is already used sometimes, as that a small program is added
to the file so that each file creates the checksum itself. This
often causes the program to load VERY slowly, or causes the
program not to work any more.
I would thus even like to go as far as stating that my new
method is the most perfect way of link-virus detection possible
(modest again?). To avoid virus programmers finding out about my
checksum algorithm so that they can simulate it themselves (just
in case), I will try to make it as difficult as I can.
If you happen to make a viruskiller yourself, please note that
the first three bytes of the unused bytes of each directory entry
will contain the ASCII characters "VCU".

*****

OK. Now, what's new about version 3.5 of the "VDU"?
Let's get through the changes systematically (well, the
important ones, anyway).

* Many innocent bootsector have been added, as well as a new
bootsector virus called "The Goblin Virus" and a Mutant Anti-
virus
* A new link-virus, dubbed "Crash Virus", is included
* The miscellaneous errors in the 'Scan partition' code have been
eliminated
* The routine handling 'files with a suspicious file start' has
been enhanced
* More reset-resistant applications are properly recognized
* The GEMDOS 40-folder problem has been 100% eliminated!!
* Folders starting with "." or ".." will now also be scanned for
link-viruses
* No obsolete absolute addresses anymore: The "VDU" is now fully
legally programmed and no data is loaded over other apps!
* Non-existent drives that have ended up in _Drvbits anyway now
don't give problems anymore
* No problems anymore with wrong drive identifiers
* No TOS alert boxes with hidden mouse anymore
* 'Virus Probability Factor' accuracy enormously increased
* Many program structures and raw code blatantly optimized
* Buffer for over 100 unrecognized bootsectors during one session
* Link-and bootsector-virus check routines fully rewritten. The
first one is now up to 55.2% faster, and now the fastest
checker ever written on the ST ("Virus Fixer" is next; it
requires 0.075 seconds per file - the "VDU" 3.5 needs 0.057...)
* Structures optimized; program size (and thus loading time)
decreased
* Statistics have, again, increased: The magic number of 200
recognized bootsectors has been surpassed...

What should you do to get the "VDU" mailed to your home?
When you live in Holland or Belgium, you should contact the
Atari Computerclub Nederland (ACN). Their address, where you can
contact them for info, is:

ACN
Postbus 5011
2000 CA Haarlem
The Netherlands

In England one can buy the "VDU" at Excel Software; its purchase
sets you back £6.95:

Excel Software
P.O. Box 159
Stockport SK2 6HN
England

Ordering it directly through me can be done by transferring one
of the amounts in the below table (in cash) to my address also
mentioned below. It can also be done through giro account number
5060326 of Richard Karsmakers, Utrecht (for the Germans: Postbank
Arnheim, bankleitzahl nicht notwendig).

Richard Karsmakers
I.B. Bakkerlaan 15-III
NL-3582 VB Utrecht
The Netherlands

TABLE OF PRICES FOR THE "VIRUS DESTRUCTION UTILITY" V3.0 AND UP

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Country: Purchase amount: Update amount:
-----------------------------------------------------------------

United States of A. $ 11.95 $ 7.--
France Fr 64.95 Fr 30.--
Germany DM 18.95 DM 10.--
Italy L 13950.-- L 7000.--
Canada $ 13.95 $ 8.--
New Zealand $ 16.95 $ 9.--
Sweden Kr 64.95 Kr 35.--
Norway Kr 68.95 Kr 37.--
Greece D 1495.-- D 800.--
Austria Sch 129.95 Sch 65.--
Switzerland Fr 14.95 Fr 8.--
Denmark Dkr 69.95 Dkr 35.--

Note: If using foreign cheques, add 50% to the purchase amount or
75% to the update amount. Updates can only be bought when you are
a registered user of the "VDU".

Disclaimer
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.