Network Associates Inc. disclosed yesterday that one of its customers, a Fortune 100 company which it declined to name, was hit last week by a computer virus that devastated communications across 10 sites and thousands of Windows NT servers and workstations. Antivirus researchers are still looking for the source of the virus; they don't know if the virus was planted as an act of targeted cyber-terrorism or downloaded from the Internet. Gene Hodges, general manager of Network Associates, said its client first reported a problem related to corrupt files. He said the data corruption issues didn't sound like a virus, but upon closer inspection, Network Associates discovered a virus written in C that compresses executable system files so users can't access data. Any data the virus didn't infect, it encrypted so users couldn't open files.
Hodges says the virus impersonates an administrator, making changes to files at will. Because the extent of the virus' spread is still unknown, Hodges urged companies to take extra precautions and follow all of their security policies. A Network Associates spokesman said the virus can spread only through an NT environment.