New Linux Software Detects Viruses, Windows

Fake News written by James Baughn on Monday, July 22, 2002

from the dept-of-redundancy dept.

DAWN, TEXAS -- After going face-to-face with the Microsoft Intellectual Property Auditing Police last year and losing, Angus Hereford, owner of Hereford's Leather Factory, came to a decision. His company was going Microsoft-free. The threat of another audit attack was too much; he would rather fight cryptic half-finished Linux desktop software than fight conniving, half-insane Microsoft lawyers.

Some of his 152 employees had different ideas, however. No matter how hard Mr. Hereford and his IT staff tried, they couldn't eliminate Microsoft payware from every computer in the company's offices. Somebody, late at night, would always smuggle in a Windows CD and secretly install it on their computer.

But that's about to change.

Eric Longhorn, the head geek at Hereford's Leather Factory, has developed a new Linux-based software package that scans the corporate network looking for the tell-tale signs of viruses such as Windows. The program, code-named "Curtains for Windows", provides 24-hour protection against illicit Windows installations.

"This is the ultimate protection against viral infections," Longhorn boasted. "If you can eliminate Windows from your network, then other viruses such as Klez and Sircam no longer matter. The problem with today's anti-virus software is that it only attacks the symptoms, not the root of the problem... which as we all know, is Windows."

Curtains uses a multi-pronged approach to keeping PCs Windows-free. First, it modifies the BIOS to detect attempts by the luser to boot from a Windows CD. If so, Curtains will command the CD-ROM drive to spin at the highest possible speed, and then immediately eject the disc, sending it flying across the room. This will likely destroy the offending disc and prevent the virus from taking hold.

Next, in the unlikely event that an infection does hold, Curtain's "Dead Man Switch" prevents the virus from spreading. Every few minutes, a Linux daemon running on every computer broadcasts a signal to all other computers on the network. This signal basically says, "I'm a Linux box. Don't hurt me!" If, however, a computer fails to send this message (presumably because Linux has been shut down in an attempt to install Windows), the other computers can remotely disable the infected machine's power supply, therefore shutting it down and placing it under quarantine until a geek with an emergency Linux install kit can arrive.

Finally, Curtains maintains a firewall that filters out all Word documents and .EXE attachments from e-mail, thus eliminating another possible vector of infection. The software can also scan for all known Linux viruses and worms, although at present the function are_linux_viruses_present() consists solely of the line "return false;".

"With something as potent and dangerous as Microsoft software, you can't take chances," Curtains developer Eric Longhorn warned. "One minute somebody manages to install Solitaire, the next minute you're on the hook for violating Microsoft license agreements."

Mr. Longhorn does recall a time when the tables were turned and geeks would run the risk of getting fired for smuggling in a Linux box in defiance of the Windows-only policies enacted by their Pointy Haired Bosses. "Wow, things have changed," he reflected. "Now it's the Windows weenies that are rebelling against using Linux!"

He added, "Not that I'm complaining or anything..."

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