PARKERSBURG - A local information technology specialist is warning the community of a computer virus he has seen in a number of systems around the area and which seems to be immune to most conventional forms of anti-virus software.
Mark Zelinski, who manages a local computer service company in Parkersburg, said for the last few months they have been seeing a particular infection in a number of computers, both personal and business computers. Zelinski said the name of his company could be with held. He wanted to alert the community to this possible threat, not necessarily generate more business for himself.
''These things are a variety of trojan or worm infections, but they don't meet the heuristic characteristics of a virus,'' he said. ''When we saw if for a couple of weeks, we thought it was something that was just running through.
Photo Illustration by Brett Dunlap
IT specialist Mark Zelinski has seen a computer virus immune to most anti-virus software.
''That is not what is going on. This has just continually continued to build.''
It is to the point where virtually every computer that comes into their shop has these infections, Zelinski said.
''We have been going on-site to businesses, and out of our own curiosity, while we were there doing other things, we ran some test scans on machines and we are finding it there,'' he said. ''The people who have this thing on their machines are completely unaware that it is there.''
Most anti-virus software have been missing it.
''Nothing is going off and nothing is detecting anything, nothing is saying anything is wrong,'' Zelinski said.
Right now the infections don't seem intent on damaging or shutting down computers. However, Zelinski thinks it is possible that it could be stealing data or being used for some other unknown purpose.
''It is really alarming,'' he said.
Businesses, people's personal information and more could be at risk.
He said most anti-virus software is not catching it. They have seen machines that were cleaned using anti-virus software and they are still finding these infections.
Some local IT specialists have a process to isolate and remove the infection that involves about 12 steps.
''People need to find some kind of root scanner and know how to use it,'' Zelinski said. ''It is not as simple as 'run this' and if something shows up, 'do this.'
''You start with the process and based on the results from that, we have to go one way or another.''
One of the strangest aspects of this infection is the lack of discussion about it.
Zelinski said whenever a virus or something pops up, the tech community begins discussing it widely in great detail and people begin working on solving the problem.
''The weird thing is I am not seeing a lot of talk about this,'' he said. ''I have never seen a pattern like this over this amount of time without people talking about it.''
Only recently has talk has started in some corners addressing this infection. Java has put out a number of updates over the last few months, but Zelinski said the infection has spread across multiple platforms.
''10-15 years ago when people saw a virus, it was a serious thing,'' he said. ''Everyone has gotten complacent and everyone is more online savvy. We are to the point where code is being written to be malicious, but not in a way of shutting a computer down or destroying your data. They want the machine running and want it left on.''
Zelinski said they are seeing a number of growing calls weekly regarding this infection.
''I don't know what the intent of this thing is,'' he said. ''I would think it was theft or someone is using it to relay information somewhere else.
''It could be plain old thieves or hackers. It could be something more dubious or worst than that. It really bothers me.''