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Sega Game Delivers Virus
By Michelle Delio

Even game consoles aren't safe from computer viruses.

In what appears to be the first reported incident of console-to-computer virus 
crossover, the Japanese-language version of "Atelier Marie," a role-playing game for 
the Sega Dreamcast games console, is infected with a highly destructive computer virus.

Sega Dreamcast games come on CD-ROM discs that can include files readable on a 
computer's CD drive. The Atelier Marie game includes a screensaver that, once 
installed on a computer, attempts to infect the user's PC with the W32/Kriz virus.

 A Japanese company, Kool Kizz, shipped the game in October and soon began receiving 
complaints that the included screensaver was infecting PCs with the particularly nasty 
virus. The game was pulled from store shelves in mid-November.

W32/Kriz erases vital system data from an infected computer's hard drive on Dec. 25, 
erasing the CMOS setup and corrupting the system BIOS.

If the system BIOS corruption is successful, users will no longer be able to boot up 
their computers, and the BIOS chip - which controls the most basic functions of the 
machine -- may need to be replaced.

And as if destroying all essential system files wasn't enough, the virus then proceeds 
to overwrite all files stored on the infected hard drive.

The virus does not infect any files or data stored in the Dreamcast console.

Sophos, an anti-virus application vendor, was alerted to the problem via game-owner 

"Kriz is capable of rendering a computer useless," said Graham Cluley, senior 
technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "It executes its payload on Dec. 25, 
which will mean a pretty miserable Christmas for anyone receiving this in their 
stocking. It's almost unbelievable that a year after this virus was first seen it is 
still doing the rounds."

Kool Kizz has posted an apology to affected users on the company's website.

The statement (in Japanese) apologizes for causing game users "great worry and deep 
annoyance" and indicates that the virus was placed on the disk by accident, by 
"unauthorized personnel."

The statement also promises that the problem that allowed the virus to ship undetected 
on the disk has been "defeated."

Cluley said that the infected version of the game is only likely to have been widely 
distributed in Japan, but fans of the role-playing game report some copies are in 
circulation outside of the country.


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