Viruses, the medicine can be more harmful than the disease

By Godfried-Willem Raes


No doubt, viruses indeed do exist, but to a much lesser extend than some interest groups want us to believe!

Out of the one hundred times that people have confronted me with 'virus catastrophes' on their computers, only about ten cases were clearly virus related. All the other cases were really due to either bugs in the programs used, to computer 'specialists' using them to mask their lack of knowledge, or in the way these programs had been installed on their PC, or last but not least, due to shaky or inappropriate hardware. By the way, I don’t know of any larger sized program that wouldn't have bugs of some kind and that you cant send to the land of no return under circumstances… Of course, I have my personal unproven and only experience based convictions to this hot subject, the strongest being that viruses are in fact created by some commercial software vendors themselves, in order to 'protect' their software from being copied. All instances of viruses I encountered sofar happened to people using a copied version of the Wordperfect wordprocessor. It would be hard to believe that this would be a mere coincidence.

Another category of software vendors has a trivial interest in feeding and blowing up the fear for viruses: the sellers of 'virus-protection' software…

Now, as many people, every so often I happen to fall into the trap of installing yet another virus-protection program. Advised by a message in one of the Microsoft bulletins that come to me via the net, I downloaded a program called 'EliaShim' and installed it on one of my PC's. Installation went smoothly and didn't slow down the PC too much (ALL TSR schemes do slow down your engine!). It nestled itself in the low-right angle of my screen and flashed every so often, giving you the illusion that it was alive and well. I had this one installed, because the program told me it could be uninstalled using the standard Win95 procedure to do so.

After running the program for a couple of weeks, I decided I wanted my computer back and tried to get rid of this (and a few more) occupants. So, using Win95, I 'Uninstalled' it. But, to my astonishment, the program had removed itself as well as its entries in the registry-file, but in every single directory on my harddisk, it left a small read-only file named 'VS.VSN' . So there I was left with no less than 1268 files all over my harddisk, eating some 16Mbyte of wasted space.

Deleting them by hand appeared ridiculous: 1268 directory changes, attribute byte changes and deletes is even under DOS very tedious. Hence I wrote a simple utility to delete them all at once. The utility is very simple: first it makes a list of all directories which have that particular file, then this list-file goes to a simple Basic program that uses this information to change the attribute bytes and than deletes the files. At the end, the utility deletes the temporary files it created and, last but not least, deletes itself!

I couldn't think of a cleaner way of doing this.

Since Microsoft's virus protection program has the same problem (although it does not mark the CHKLIST.MS files it creates everywhere as read only), I added support to my little utility, to use it to remove these files if the user wants this.

I herewith declare it to be public domain.

' KillElia.Bas - source code

  • CASE "1"
  • ' construct a new command-line to remove the read-only attribute
  • newline1$ = "attrib " + regel$ + "\VS.VSN -r"
  • ' construct the delete command
  • newline2$ = "del " + regel$ + "\VS.VSN"
  • PRINT #2, newline1$
  • PRINT #2, newline2$
  • CASE "2"
  • newline2$ = "del " + regel$ + "\CHKLIST.MS"
  • PRINT #2, newline2$

This be really the end…