Proceedings of the IFIP WG9.6 Working Conference on Security and Control of IT in Society
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This is an article in Proceedings of the IFIP WG9.6 Working Conference

 * Proceedings of the IFIP WG9.6 Working Conference on 
 *        Security and Control of IT in Society        
 *     Editor(s): R.Sizer, M.Wasik, and R.Kaspersen    
 *   -----------------------------------------------   
 *             Baltic Line Conference Ship,            
 *     Stockholm-St.Petersburg, 12-17 August 1993      


A Method of Detecting and Eradicating Known and Unknown Viruses

Dmitry Yu. Mostovoy

DialogueScience, Inc., Vavilov 40, Room No.103-a, Moscow, Russia

First, virus detection and removal methods which identify and remove
almost all of the as-yet-unknown file and boot infectors are outlined.
These methods are then shown to be implemented in the "ADinf" package and
its curing  companion  "ADinf Cure" module  widely  used  in Russia and
former USSR republics.


The PC virus problem has assumed formidable dimensions in Russia and the
former Soviet republics [2,  3] as a result of several unfortunate factors
such as large-scale software piracy, lack of punitive laws to suppress virus
writing, easy access to computing systems, the high skill of programmers,
inadequate working places, etc.  They eventually triggered the so-called
"Russian virus explosion" whose splinters are encountered even in the West.

Besides the growth of innumerable simple infectors known as "student"
viruses, sophisticated stealth and polymorphic viruses designed to dodge
detection are being launched into the computer world.   Furthermore,
certain special packages, which provide tools for designing and propagating
PC viruses have added to the growth rate of new infectors.

In the last two years the virus situation has changed radically.
Formerly, only few viruses migrated around the world, breaking  out at one
place or the other.   Theses were viruses such as "Dark  Avenger",
"Black Friday", "Falling letters",  etc  [1].   But  today,  owing  to
modern detection and eradication tools and  to the users'  deeper knowledge,
viruses  no longer threaten on  an epidemic scale.   The last outbreak
was the "DIR-II" epidemic  in August-September  1991. Today,  most attacks
in Russia are highly localized confined  to the limits of a city,  or
sometimes even within the four walls of an institution or a company.


This situation has complicated the fight against virus invasion.
While one or two antivirus tools were adequate to solve the problem,
today there  is, as a rule, no single package able to kill every new
infector. Therefore some novel approaches based on modern programming
techniques are needed today to cope up with the avalanche of new
infectors. These approaches fall into three categories.

The first consists of accumulating knowledge about every new virus.
This policy is adopted by most  of the antivirus  packages.
There are  two variants  of this policy: the  creation  of  an
antivirus  program with a constantly updated database (as with
"DOCTOR" by E.Kaspersky, Russia, the "Norton Anti-Virus", USA)
or constantly  upgraded  program  (as with "Aidstest"  by
D.Lozinsky, Russia,  which  is  upgraded  twice  a  week).
The demerits of these policies are obvious:  first these programs
always lag behind the emergence  of new viruses and  second they
are  incapable of quickly suppressing the local epidemics arising
in locations remote from the cities where the antivirus programs are

The second approach is the policy of "prevention is  better than
cure" known as a "resident sentry".  But an ingeniously tailored
virus can easily dodge a resident sentry. Therefore an effective
shield can be provided only by a combination of  software  and
hardware  techniques. Several such systems are now commercially
available, for example, "Sheriff" by Yu. N. Fomin (Russia) is the
best today.  It includes a card to control the addressing of the
hard disk at port level and is successful at providing data security
and virus protection at many companies and banks in Russia.

This approach, too, is not free from drawbacks. First, it utilizes
computer resources (e.g. one of the hardware interrupts) and restrict
the user's freedom, but this is less of a drawback in companies and
banks, in which they are acceptable.

But what can be done for the rest of the PC world? They must rely on
a third approach, namely, the use of universal antivirus programs.
The number of new viruses is potentially infinite but the size of
the antivirus program is limited. Consequently, "Advanced Diskinfoscope"
(ADinf) was developed which stores a finite volume of vital information
about each  logical disk [4].  ADinf determines the address of Int 13h
handler  in  BIOS  and  analyzes  the  information, reading a disk
sector-by-sector by directly addressing BIOS without the assistance
of the operating  system and thus it identifies hiding stealth viruses.
At the first start, it stores the images  of the master boot  sector,
boot sectors  of logical disks,  a list of bad clusters,  tree
structures  of directories  and subdirectories, vital information
(CRC, size,  time and  date of  creation) of all files  under  its
control.  At  subsequent  starts,  it checks the integrity  of  this
information  and  compiles  a report about all changes in  them. It
pays special  attention to  the changes  that might have  been induced
by virus  activity, and  prints a warning message of, for example, a
change in the size or CRC of a file without any alteration  in the date
and time of its creation or file creation time with seconds greater
than 58 or the year set  at a number greater than the current  value.
Furthermore, ADinf instantly notifies any slightest modification in
files marked as  "stable", i.e., files where alteration is permitted.
It always makes a note of the newly created or deleted directories
(subdirectories), newly created and deleted, renamed and moved files,
newly created bad clusters, integrity of the boot sectors and information
about many other vital parameters.

ADinf also incorporates an algorithm for searching stealth
viruses based on their hiding capability. The dodging technique
of a stealth virus is paradoxically the weakest spot in the hiding
algorithms and can be led to betray their presence.  It is sufficient
to compare the size or CRC of an infected file given by DOS and its actual
value; any discrepancy between them is a symptom of stealth virus infection.

What is the underlying principle of the universal virus removal method?
Despite the various types of viruses, there are only few methods used
by viruses to inject itself into a file. This is the basic strategy
of ADinf Cure Module. In its routine checks,  ADinf reports to its
curing companion a list of files that have been changed since the
last checking session.  ADinf Cure Module scans these files and
stores those changes in its diskinfo tables that may be needed
in restoring damaged files.   On detecting a virus attack, ADinf
alerts the user and, when he opts for curing, hands over the control
to its curing companion. ADinf Cure Module, after scanning the infected
file(s) and comparing with the information stored in the diskinfo tables,
restores the original status of the file(s).  If ADinf Cure Module,
after curing a file, reports that a file has been "successfully restored";
it means that the restored file is an exact copy of the original file.

The tables  containing disk  information needed  in restoring files take
about  200-250  kb  space  on  a  40Mb  disk. An algorithm is presently
under development to compress this space to 90 kb.

ADinf Cure Module does not, of course, eradicate every virus
but appears to achieve a 97% success rate.


1. Gary H. Anthes, Viruses continue to wreak havoc at many US companies,
   ComputerWorld-Moscow", No. 34, September 15, 1993  (Russian ed.).

2. N. N. Bezrukov, Computer viruses, Nauka, Moscow, 1991 (in Russian).

3. N. N. Bezrukov, Computer virology, Ukrainskaya Sovietskaya Entsiklopediya,
   Kiev, 1991 (in Russian).

4. DialogueScience Anti-Virus Kit, User's Guide, Moscow, 1993.


The copyright is transferred to the international Federation of
Information Processing, effective if and when the article is accepted for
publication by the Editor(s).

The author reserves all proprietary rights such as patent rights and the
right to use all or part of the article in future works of him own such
as lectures, press releases, reviews of text books. In the case of
republication of the whole part, or parts thereof, in journals or reprint
publications by a third party, written permission must be obtained from
IFIP or its designated Publisher and undersigned party.

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