A variant of the INIT-29 virus was recently discovered, according to an announcement from Professor Gene Spafford at Purdue. The new virus strain, dubbed INIT-29-B, behaves similarly to the original INIT-29, which appeared in late 1988. It alters applications, system files, and documents, and may cause unexpected program failures or system crashes on any Macintosh, under all versions of the System. Both strains spread quickly and widely if not checked. John Norstad's announcement for Disinfectant 3.5 adds that there are only minor differences between this new B strain and the original strain, now referred to as INIT-29-A.
INIT-29 viruses alter and infect almost every type of file, including documents, though infected document files don't spread the virus. Infected applications and system files can and will spread the virus; a file need not be opened in order to be infected.
One likely sign of an INIT-29 infection (either strain) is that if you insert a locked floppy disk into the drive, your Mac reports that "The disk 'xxxxx' needs minor repairs" and offers to repair it.
The latest existing versions of Gatekeeper (1.3), Rival, and VirusDetective (5.0.11) are already effective against this new strain. (In Rival's case, you need to have the INIT-29 vaccine installed.)
John Norstad has released Disinfectant 3.5, an update to his free utility that provides scanning, repair, and protection capabilities. It's available on most online services and via anonymous FTP at:
Updates for Central Point Anti-Virus and SAM (Symantec Anti-Virus for Macintosh) may be obtained from their respective publishers on popular online services and via anonymous FTP at:
(This archive typically offers updates for most of the commercial utilities, as well as the latest versions of the free utilities.)
Datawatch has released Virex 5.03, which will be sent automatically to all Virex Protection Service subscribers, and will be available to other registered owners. Datawatch has also provided the following code that users can add to their software to allow it to detect INIT-29-B:
UDV Code for INIT29-B Guide Number = 15753664 1: 0302 3000 1276 0000 / 57 2: A9F0 303C A997 A146 / 9D 3: 2028 FFFC 8180 9090 / 4C
Spaf's announcement also mentioned that version 1.3.1 of Gatekeeper, designed to handle the INIT-9403 virus announced last month, is still unfinished. Using the latest version of the Disinfectant protection INIT along with Gatekeeper 1.3 should provide satisfactory protection.
Gene Spafford -- firstname.lastname@example.org
John Norstad -- email@example.com