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Sega Game Delivers Virus

by Peter on Dec. 4, 2001 @ 11:42 p.m. PST

The Japanese-language version of a popular role-playing game developed for Sega Dreamcast is infected with a highly destructive virus. Full story below!

Even game consoles aren't safe from computer viruses.

In what appears to be the first reported incident of console-to-computer virus crossover, the Japanese-language version of "Atelier Marie," a role-playing game for the Sega Dreamcast games console, is infected with a highly destructive computer virus.

Sega Dreamcast games come on CD-ROM discs that can include files readable on a computer's CD drive. The Atelier Marie game includes a screensaver that, once installed on a computer, attempts to infect the user's PC with the W32/Kriz virus.

A Japanese company, Kool Kizz, shipped the game in October and soon began receiving complaints that the included screensaver was infecting PCs with the particularly nasty virus. The game was pulled from store shelves in mid-November.

W32/Kriz erases vital system data from an infected computer's hard drive on Dec. 25, erasing the CMOS setup and corrupting the system BIOS.

If the system BIOS corruption is successful, users will no longer be able to boot up their computers, and the BIOS chip –- which controls the most basic functions of the machine -- may need to be replaced.

And as if destroying all essential system files wasn't enough, the virus then proceeds to overwrite all files stored on the infected hard drive.

The virus does not infect any files or data stored in the Dreamcast console.

Sophos, an anti-virus application vendor, was alerted to the problem via game-owner inquiries.

"Kriz is capable of rendering a computer useless," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "It executes its payload on Dec. 25, which will mean a pretty miserable Christmas for anyone receiving this in their stocking. It's almost unbelievable that a year after this virus was first seen it is still doing the rounds."

Kool Kizz has posted an apology to affected users on the company's website.

The statement (in Japanese) apologizes for causing game users "great worry and deep annoyance" and indicates that the virus was placed on the disk by accident, by "unauthorized personnel."

The statement also promises that the problem that allowed the virus to ship undetected on the disk has been "defeated."

Cluley said that the infected version of the game is only likely to have been widely distributed in Japan, but fans of the role-playing game report some copies are in circulation outside of the country.

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