Just a dozen cases of infection were reported on Thursday, the day the Hare PC virus was programmed to strike. However, it is set to go off again in another month, on September 22.
"Technically, anyone who's got a PC and is running DOS is susceptible, but worldwide, we're only aware of 12 cases of infection," says Stephen Orenberg, general manager for North America of Dr. Soloman's Software, an antivirus computer software maker.
Orenberg says that Hare was probably born in an underground hackers' newsgroup called alt.crack. "We don't think it was intentional," but somehow Hare infected one of the files there, and escaped, Orenberg says.
The virus is multipartite, meaning it infects the partition sector of hard drives, the boot sector of floppy drives and executable files, according to Orenberg. In addition, Hare is polymorphic, meaning it is capable of changing after each corruption incident, he says.
Burlington, Massachusetts-based Dr. Soloman's first heard of Hare in June. "It wasn't something that we felt that people should panic about," because it's so difficult to spread, Orenberg says. Nonetheless, because the consequences of infection are so great, the company decided to make a Hare virus detector available on its Web site, at http://www.drsolomon.com, Orenberg says.