The Concept Virus

Since I first read of the Concept Virus in "Scientific American", November 1995 issue and "DOS World", January 1996 issue, this virus has become the most frequently encountered virus in the world.

The Concept Virus is not a programme but a macro written in Word Basic for Microsoft Word. It is NOT restricted to a specific computer system as it is system independant. It will operate on an IBM PC or a Macintosh as long as you are using Microsoft Word. It infects a system whenever a document is loaded with an infected template. The macro in the template copies the virus to the master template on the system and every Microsoft Word document passing through the "Word processor" after that will carry along an infected template. Up until now, you had to run a piece of code to get a virus infection. Now, you just have to load a document.

One way to check for this virus on your system is to:

  1. Start up Microsoft Word on your system.
  2. Select "Macros" from the "Tools" menu.
  3. Check to see if the following macros are present:
  4. If all of the above macros are present, you are infected. Contact Microsoft or S&S Software for the fix.

One possible temporary solution is to copy your master template file, NORMAL.DOT, to a backup file called something else such as USUAL.!W! and then set up your AUTOEXEC.BAT to copy USUAL.!W! to NORMAL.DOT whenever you start up your system. If you DO make changes to NORMAL.DOT, do so without first loading in ANY new documents and immediately copy the changed NORMAL.DOT over to USUAL.!W! to keep the changes. You could also then be able to use a file compare utility to monitor your NORMAL.DOT for any unwanted changes to alert you to any infected document template.

Since the original release and discovery of the Concept Virus, the number of macro viruses has grown explosively. Microsoft Word users are not the only victims. AmiPro and Excel have also been targeted. The Virus Test Center at Hamburg University plans to maintain an up-to-date list of those macro viruses known to date. This list can be downloaded (anonymous access) or read from ftp.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/pub/virus/macro/.

What Does Microsoft Have on This?

To combat the "WinWord.Concept" virus, you can download a scanning and repair tool from Microsoft from their World Wide Web site at:

Using their search tools I found Note that Microsoft's fix is not as general as those provided by many of the antivirus specialists and may only protect you against some of the macro viruses some of the time. Other antivirus sites and suppliers you might prefer to check out are:

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