SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (February 5, 1997) -- McAfee (Nasdaq: MCAF), the world's leading vendor of anti-virus software, today announced that its virus researchers have discovered the first computer virus capable of infecting the Linux operating system. The Linux operating system is a publicly supported freeware variant of the Unix operating system that runs on Intel-based personal computers.

The virus, which is called Bliss, is significant because many in the Unix industry have previously believed that viruses were not a concern to Unix operating system users. Unix operating systems are typically difficult to infect with viruses since a virus writer must have administrative privileges to infect a given Unix system. McAfee researchers believe that one reason this virus has begun to spread is because Linux users who are playing computer games over the Internet, such as DOOM, must play the game in the Linux's administrator mode, which is called "root."

"Bliss is a destructive virus which overwrites Linux executables with its own code," said Jimmy Kuo, McAfee's director of anti-virus research. "Although several incidents of Bliss infection have already been reported, the virus is not currently widespread. We encourage concerned Linux users to download a free working evaluation copy of our VirusScan for LINUX, which can be used to detect the virus."

The History of Bliss

Very little is known about the history of the Bliss virus. McAfee discovered the Bliss virus two days ago, and posted a solution Wednesday evening on its web site. The virus is believed to have been created as a research project several months ago by an anonymous programmer, and until recently was not an "in-the-wild" threat. Recently, reports of the virus have begun to surface within Linux Internet news groups.

How Bliss Works

Bliss infects Linux executable files. Each time Bliss is executed, it overwrites two or more additional files. Because the virus makes its presence known by overwriting and destroying files each time it executes, users are immediately alerted to its presence. Bliss overwrites the first 17,892 bytes of each affected file with its own code. According to McAfee anti-virus researchers, all files infected by Bliss are irrecoverable. Although the virus does not operate under traditional operating systems such as DOS, Windows, Windows 95, Windows NT, NetWare and the Macintosh, files created in these aforementioned operating system formats and stored on Linux file servers are vulnerable to corruption by Bliss.

McAfee Ships World's First Bliss Virus Scanner

As a public service, McAfee has developed a special update of its VirusScan for LINUX software which provides an antidote for the virus. The free working evaluation version of the product can be downloaded from McAfee's web site at McAfee has also provided the virus sample to other anti-virus vendors, so that they too can develop solutions to protect their customers.

McAfee World's Leading Vendor of Anti-Virus Solutions

According to IDC, McAfee is the leading vendor of anti-virus software, with a worldwide unit market share of 68% for standalone DOS and Windows PC desktops. As the world's leading vendor of anti-virus software, McAfee is considered the computer industry's Center for Disease Control. McAfee anti- virus products are currently used and trusted by over 20 million computer users worldwide. By having more users than any other anti-virus software vendor, McAfee is often the first to discover emerging virus threats such as the Bliss virus. With nearly 1,000 suspect virus infections submitted to McAfee anti- virus researchers each month, the company typically discovers between 100 and 200 new viruses. The company leverages its unique presence on the Internet to release monthly updates to customers.

McAfee provides the industry's most comprehensive line of anti-virus software solutions designed to protect against computer viruses on all major desktop and network computing platforms. The products support DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows NT, NetWare, Unix, Linux, OS/2, Lotus Notes, the Internet, and Macintosh. McAfee's flagship anti-virus product for desktop computers is VirusScan. Another McAfee product, WebScan, is an anti-virus scanner for Web browsers and email, protects desktop computer users from accidentally downloading virus-infected files from the Internet. For further protection against Internet-borne viruses, McAfee sells WebShield, an anti- virus solution for Internet gateways and firewalls. McAfee's new GroupScan and GroupShield provide native virus protection for Lotus Notes.

Founded in 1989, McAfee is a leading worldwide vendor of Network Security and Management products for enterprise networks. The Company is also a leader in Internet and Web-based electronic software distribution. McAfee is headquartered in Santa Clara, California and can be reached by phone at (408) 988-3832 or by fax at (408) 970-9727. McAfee's Web address is