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  1. #1
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    Angry Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Infection and Operating System

    Let's say I have installed 2 operating systems on 2 different partitions.

    If the virus infect my computer when I boot in the first operating system, can it infect my second operating system as well? And why?

    Does it matter what operating systems I installed (eg Win XP vs 98, Win XP vs XP, Win XP vs Linux)?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Depends on the virus, but yes it can easily happen. Some viruses will infect particular file types and will infect all files of that type on that PC. Imagine a virus that infects EXE files. infecting all those files makes it harder to clean and allows greater opportunity to proliferate. With a Linux system you're significantly safer from cross OS infection.

  3. #3
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    If you have a proper backup image, it doesn't really matter which operating system you use, dual boot or not. The restore process from a disk image takes very little time, and you can stop worrying about losing all the work you did setting up the OS.

    It's part of the 6P Principle. Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!

  4. #4
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    I just wanted to add on to what MJ said in his previous post. It really DOES depend on the virus and what the intention of the virus is. In previous years most viri were extremely malicous and bent on infecting anything and everything the computer was connected to and raking havok wherever possible; Floppy drives .. entire Hard drives connected to the PC and networked devices.. etc... Nowadays .. most newer viri are what we now call Malware.. programs intended to download other malicious type programs or utilize your PC as a 'zombie' or for a 'bounce off point' or DOS attacks or other Network attacks. But as stated by MJ, it is very possible and very easy for a malicious virus to infect other OS's .. other drives.. files and the like. It really depends on the virus itself and what the virus was intended to do in the first place.

  5. #5
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Another note in addition to the info above: There are a couple PoC virii around that claim to be able to infect both Windows PE and Linux ELF executables, although they're not in the wild to the best of my knowledge and such examples are extremely rare.

    Here's some references:

    http://www.viruslist.com/en/weblog?weblogid=183651915
    http://isc.sans.org/diary.php?storyid=1248

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  6. #6
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Regent View Post
    If you have a proper backup image, it doesn't really matter which operating system you use, dual boot or not. The restore process from a disk image takes very little time, and you can stop worrying about losing all the work you did setting up the OS.

    It's part of the 6P Principle. Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
    How long does it take to restore an image of Windows (with basic programs and security apps)?

    I know it may differ from one to another.
    But approximately how long in your case?

  7. #7
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mjölnir View Post
    Depends on the virus, but yes it can easily happen. Some viruses will infect particular file types and will infect all files of that type on that PC. Imagine a virus that infects EXE files. infecting all those files makes it harder to clean and allows greater opportunity to proliferate. With a Linux system you're significantly safer from cross OS infection.
    If I boot on the first OS, am I able to see files on second OS?
    If possible, could I access/read/modify/delete files on second OS?

    I assume it is possible to set that, so a virus may not be able to access/modify other OS.
    How about by hiding the OS partition?
    Last edited by Wai_Wai; 11-02-2006 at 02:42 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai_Wai View Post
    How long does it take to restore an image of Windows (with basic programs and security apps)?

    I know it may differ from one to another.
    But approximately how long in your case?
    For me, about 5 minutes using Norton Ghost.

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  9. #9
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai_Wai View Post
    If I boot on the first OS, am I able to see files on second OS?
    If possible, could I access/read/modify/delete files on second OS?

    I assume it is possible to set that, so a virus may not be able to access/modify other OS.
    How about by hiding the OS partition?
    If other partitions aren't visible (ie, they're not mounted or are hidden) to the OS then they aren't visible to viruses running within that OS.

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  10. #10
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai_Wai View Post
    If I boot on the first OS, am I able to see files on second OS?
    If possible, could I access/read/modify/delete files on second OS?
    As Ned said - if they're not visible, the OS most likely can't view the type of file system the other OS is installed on. As an example, Win9X and WinME can't read NTFS partitions, so if you have an OS (like Win2000 or WinXP) installed on an NTFS partition, the Win9X/ME OS won't see it.

    in some cases, when you have two OS's both on NTFS partitions you may need to give yourself permission to access the files on the other partition, but ultimately you can manipulate files from the other OS provided that you can see them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai_Wai View Post
    I assume it is possible to set that, so a virus may not be able to access/modify other OS.
    How about by hiding the OS partition?
    One possible way to do this is to boot either drive by disabling one or the other in BIOS if the two OS's are on seperate drives (recommended). Sometimes the computer is a bit too smart and Windows is able to use the other drive even when it's disabled. Really depends on your motherboard or hard drive controller. Aside from that you could probably start playing with permissions on each OS (provided they both have them) but ultimately it is best to just be vigilant with your protection. Use a firewall or two, have up-to-date antivirus software, etc. Also you could use an OS that's not so prone to malicious attacks (like one of the many Linux flavours).

    Which OS's do you have in mind?

  11. #11
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    if the virii attacks the other OS it could destroy it. i would doubt there are many virii that infect windows then attempt to install a rootkit on a linux partition, but i would beleive some virii would wipe the MBR (not really destructive if you remeber the size of each partition). because both OS's can repartition space, there is no reason why an anti-linux virii couldn't simply destroy the linux partitions, then make them FAT32 partitions, then write random data. this would be more likely with trojan horse virii attempting to get more disk space and time -- if linux stops working, the user might just spend more time in windows!
    I know exactly how the PC works. I understand the OOO, superscalar and superpiplined designs. I just don't understand how the PC doesn't work as shown in so many cases.

  12. #12
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    I don't think viruses like that would be common either. For one, if they take out the OS they limit their options to proliferate.

  13. #13
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Slider View Post
    If other partitions aren't visible (ie, they're not mounted or are hidden) to the OS then they aren't visible to viruses running within that OS.
    Yes, by theory it is.
    But how true is it?

    Is there any way to make sure other partitions can't be acessed by malware?
    Any weaknesses or problems?

  14. #14
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mjölnir View Post
    in some cases, when you have two OS's both on NTFS partitions you may need to give yourself permission to access the files on the other partition, but ultimately you can manipulate files from the other OS provided that you can see them.
    If you can edit the files, the malware can too.

    One possible way to do this is to boot either drive by disabling one or the other in BIOS if the two OS's are on seperate drives (recommended). Sometimes the computer is a bit too smart and Windows is able to use the other drive even when it's disabled. Really depends on your motherboard or hard drive controller. Aside from that you could probably start playing with permissions on each OS (provided they both have them) but ultimately it is best to just be vigilant with your protection. Use a firewall or two, have up-to-date antivirus software, etc. Also you could use an OS that's not so prone to malicious attacks (like one of the many Linux flavours).
    It seems to be a bit inconvenient.
    Boot in BIOS -> disable 1 & enable another -> save and reboot
    It is also possible I may forget to disable, so leaving it vulnerable.

    Is there any other effective but convenient method which can ensure that no cross-infection is possible?


    Which OS's do you have in mind?
    Some options:
    - Windows XP and 98
    - Windows XP and XP **
    - Windows XP and Vista **
    - Windows XP and Linux
    - Windows Vista and Linux

    I think Windows 98 is inherently very unsafe. I'm not sure if there's any point to pick this version.

    Linux is good but it may take some time to familiar with it.
    Also software which works under Windows would not work. That means I need to spend time to search for alternatives.

    So the best seems to be:
    - Windows XP and XP **
    - Windows XP and Vista **
    Any comment?

  15. #15
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    Re: Will Infection on 1 OS affect other OS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai_Wai View Post
    Yes, by theory it is.
    But how true is it?
    Of course it's technically possible - things like disk utils can see hidden partitions. The OS would have to support the other filesystem, and you'd need to hook a kernel mode driver. I guess this is possible in Windows (??). In Linux you'd need root privilege escalation.

    But I just can't see any virus writer wanting to implement such a feature - its just not worth it. It's a numbers game and the vast majority of PCs only contain a single OS. Of far more benefit would be bios level infection.

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