First Windows/Linux Cross Platform Proof-of-Concept Virus Strikes

Virus.Linux.Bi.a/Virus.Win32.Bi.a is the first cross-platform (Windows and Linux) virus. Albeit as a proof of concept. According to the Russia-based Kaspersky Labs, Bi has been written in assembler and infects files in the current directory.

Such self-contained viruses aren’t new. In 2001, Sadmind/ISS worm exploited a hole in Sun Solaris to infect systems running vulnerable versions of the operating system. These infected systems then scanned for, and attacked, servers running Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) sites. And Winux, another proof-of-concept virus, infected both Windows and Linux systems.

Software security firm Secunia has discovered an Active Scripting induced leak in Internet Explorer 6 and 7 Beta. The vulnerability can be exploited by a phishing attack. According to Secunia Advisory SA19521 released April 6, 2006, the bug allows a fake URL in the browser’s address bar to trick users into believing they are on a legitimate site, when they are in fact viewing a fraudulent Web page. The flaw is caused by an error in the way IE loads pages with Macromedia Flash animations. Secunia rates the issue “moderately critical” and have created a special Web page to test your web browser.

Getting to happening freeware, the Jabber-based Google Talk buddy icons (avatars) and chat themes feature has been improved. The latest upgrade allows users to upload their own 32×32 pixel images. Google’s also supports the BlackBerry platform, using Google Talk for Blackberry.

Google Talk still supports only text- and voice-based messaging. You still can’t transfer files. Even though the Jabber server supports the feature. My company runs its own internal Jabber message server. That in our development environment is used to transfer files.

The last few Google Talk builds also support saving IM chat transcripts locally on your own computer. If you and your buddies aren’t into VoIP, then you don’t actually need Google Talk to chat. You can also use the free Gaim multi-service IM client to connect to the Google Jabber server.

There’s also an incremental Opera Web Browser 9 Technical Preview Build 8359 Beta release. Essentially a bug-fix upgrade, it fixes widget crashes. But still doesn’t allow widgets to be saved when you close the browser. Other fixes include memory leak resolution, Flash load issue and a bug in the included BitTorrent client that often resulted in a memory leak.

In the Windows version, the MSI installer has been upgraded to work with win98/win95. And on the Unix variant, a workaround has been released for an issue where RSS feeds require “Prefer plain text” to be displayed (fix here: )

I finally managed to check out IE7. And I’m not impressed at all. The interface is really basic. Has everyone on the IE7 development team buried their head in the sand? It sure looks like it even as IE shells like Maxthon (formerly MyIE2), AvantBrowser and NetCaptor have mastered multiple tabs, skins, pop-up blockers and RSS feed readers. If you don’t believe me check out screen shots for
Internet Explorer 7 Build 5347 for Windows XP (German). Beware, the site is really slow-loading.

IE7 Beta for Windows XP works only with legal copies. And fails even with the 120-day trial Windows XP SP2 version I use for testing. My default OS of choice is Windows 2000 SP4. But there is a really neat hack available on the Net. Where you open a DLL in a hex editor. Change a string value. And save the file. Then re-start the installer and the Microsoft Genuine Version validation check is bypassed completely! Another method is to download the GenuineCheck software to your Desktop. Then right-click and in Properties > Compatibility mode change the OS version to Windows 2000. The codes that GenuineCheck now offers will allow for instant validation!

And one of my favored music players just got better. Make sure to download XMPlay This a light-weight yet feature-rich Windows media player that supports OGG, MP4, AAC, FLAC, MP3, WMA, MP2, MP1, MO3, IT, XM, S3M, MTM, MOD and UMX audio formats and PLS/M3U play lists. The new version allows the mouse wheel to adjust the volume. And more critically the WMA plugin stops complaining if the Windows Media wmvcore file isn’t installed.

And last but not the least, Microsoft have announced Office 2007 file formats. These all use XML, a fact that reflected in the 4-character extensions

Word = .docx
Excel = .xlsx
PowerPoint = .pptx

. The new XPS file format supports for advanced digital rights. Office 2007 also introduces a save as PDF feature. However web pundits feel, and this columnist concurs, that the extension rename shows how desperate Microsoft is about convincing enterprises that Office 2007 introduces new technology! I wonder why Microsoft doesn’t just buy out OpenOffice.Org that has supported XML file formats and save as PDF from inception!

That’s it for this week. Stay safe and we’ll catch up again later.

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