Genetically Altered Insects Capable of Transmitting Computer Viruses

Fake News written by Nick Sandru on Thursday, April 1, 1999

from the not-your-regular-run-of-the-mill-bugs dept.

For immediate release

1. Introduction

During the last few days the AFDERT has received reports from an undisclosed source regarding the spreading of genetically altered insects that are capable of transmitting computer viruses. The insects are able to insert a sequence of data preprogrammed in their neural system through the serial port of the computer.

2. Description of the problem

At least two species of genetically altered insects have been discovered so far: the housefly (Musca Domestica) and the blowfly (Calliphora Vomitoria). The modified flies are virtually identical to their unmodified counterparts and it is likely that they can cross-breed and produce viable descendents.

The modified flies are lured by the high frequency electromagnetic radiation generated by the computer, hook themselves into one of the conectors on the computer and transmit the preprogrammed data sequence through the proboscis. If the fly settles on one of the serial ports it can upload the data into the computer.

The modified flies are the result of a classified project conducted by the Department of Advanced Entomology of the USA. It is yet unclear how they escaped into the wild.

A fly lays 200 - 300 eggs and the resulting descendants can reproduce after less than 3 weeks.

3. Impact

The insects can be programmed relatively easy with computer viruses, bred and released thereafter in large numbers. They cannot be distinguished from their unmodified counterparts and they are capable of multipling rapidly. Flies are quite common around human settlements, so that the modified ones can easily pass unobserved and infect computers without the owners beeing aware of it. A large number of computers can be thus infected in a short time, causing a great deal of damage.

It is likely that at least some of the descendents resulting from cross-breeding of modified and unmodified flies retain their capability to upload data into computers.

So far the AFDERT has discovered only one virus programmed into the modified flies - the so-called Melissa virus - and it is likely that this virus has been initially injected by modified flies and this can explain its extremely rapid spreading.

There is a risk that the programming of the modified flies is vulnerable to the year 2000 bug and this might have imprevisible consequences.

4. Computers affected

Any computer that accesses the Internet through a serial port via the PPP protocol is at risk. Unix systems with UUCP and/or serial terminals might also be affected.

5. Protection

Before switching on the computer close all doors and windows and make sure that there are no flies or other insects in the room. If this is not possible it is recommended to spray the serial port connectors with an insect repellant. Another protection measure is to cover the computer with a mosquito net.

On UNIX boxes diasable the getty and PPP processes on the unused serial ports.

Computers running MS Windows should have the unused serial ports disabled or covered with insulating tape. [Or, better yet, Wintel boxes shouldn't be turned on at all -- The Editor]

6. Description of the insects

The housefly is 6 - 8 mm (1/4 - 1/3 in) long, dark grey and flies rather slow. It tends to stay indoors, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

The blowfly is 12 - 15 mm (1/2 - 3/5 in) long, dark blue with a metallic shine and is quite noisy when it flies. It enters homes occasionally through open windows and usually flies out after a few minutes.

If you see any of these flies flying around your computer or sitting on its connectors chase them away at once. And keep always a flyswath at hand.

This alert has been brought to you by:
April Fools' Day Emergency Response Team

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