Virus Damage to Hard Drives
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Thread: Virus Damage to Hard Drives

  1. #1
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    Virus Damage to Hard Drives

    We had a combination of viruses render our mirrored hard drives inopperable, causing us to lose our information. We were able to restore the information from the tape back-up but one of the Hard Drives does not work properly, despite repeated attempts to format the disk. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT A VIRUS COULD CAUSE PHYSICAL AND PERMANENT DAMAGE TO A HARD DRIVE? My research indicates that either the IDE or ATA controllers could have been affected and are causing the malfunctions. Is there ANY information on this?

  2. #2
    Senior Member DeadAddict's Avatar
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    I did some searching and I didn't find anything that talked about a virus doing permanent damage to a hardrive to the point that it was useless You may have a boot virus on the drives and sometimes a regular format won't erase the the virus What I would do is go to the manufacturer of the drive and download their software tools that will do a low level format on the drive.

  3. #3
    HeadShot Master N1nja Cybr1d's Avatar
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    As to date, the are no existing viruses which would cause physical damage to a hard drive. Perhaps running a magnet HDD eraser over the hard drive, and reformating it afterwards using fdisk would fix the issue.

  4. #4
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    DVM,
    I personally have never had of a virus do physiacl dmage to a harddrive (and just thinking about it don't know how it could *** I am not a genoius, there might be I jst don't know how***) but if it modifies the firmware I don't see why it wouldn't act like a damaged drive. I have however had similar problems when HDs crashed and the crash took out other drives.

    What viruses did you find?

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  5. #5
    A virus itself can not infect hardware and damage it through infection means. However, a virus's activity can damage certain forms of hardware depending on virus type. Examples.

    1.If the Virus is meant to write, erase, write, erase, write, erase to the same segment of a drive over and over again. If does it fast enough and long enough, it places wear and tear on that segment of the drive, eventually ruining anything being written and read from that area in the future.

    2. If the Virus is meant to do low level formats on the harddrive multiple times (by low level I mean writing 0's to the entire disk.. very low level) over and over again. Like scenario one, the harddrive eventuall get's so hot and overused that it begins to cause damage to the drive itself from the heat+overuse.


    Those two scenarios are only a few things I've seen in my time. So in essence, a virus can damage hardware (in this example harddrives), but not through "infecting means", just "hardware overuse". Also note that IDE and ATA cables are obviously exempt from this, as the amount and continual use of electrical pulses makes no difference to them, just the harddrives that get overworked.

  6. #6
    HeadShot Master N1nja Cybr1d's Avatar
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    pooh is defenitely onto something there. I forgot about that aspect. I was actually thinking of experimenting on a virus which could Send an electrical impulse to the HDD and possibly kill it. Another way could also be a Trojan programmed to download an infitite amount of data from the nternet or copying itself endlessly until the entire HDD is filled, and then reformating and going over the same process over and over and over.

  7. #7
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    I do agree with DeadAddict.

  8. #8
    Just Another Geek
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    If you're using a hardware RAID solution you might want to recheck the settings of the controller. I've had issues with controllers marking disks as unused after a serious crash. After reconfiguring the RAID controller everything worked fine again.

    This 'problem' you have is a nice example of why you still need good backups. Even if you use RAID1 or RAID5 your data can get corrupted. RAID is only usefull preventing outage should 1 of your drives suddenly die.
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  9. #9
    rebmeM roineS enilnOitnA steve.milner's Avatar
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    You say you have tried to re-format the disk.

    Have you also tried to re partition it ?

    The virus may have overwritten the master boot record and this may prevent a re-format.

    Steve
    IT, e-commerce, Retail, Programme & Project Management, EPoS, Supply Chain and Logistic Services. Yorkshire. http://www.bigi.uk.com

  10. #10
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    have you tryed booting up the system with the damaged disk attached only? if so was it recognised in the bios! if so then maybe you have an electrical problem with the circuitry on the hard drive.if however it was recognised and didn't start possibly due to a virus, have you tryed booting up the bootdisk and from prompt writing or copying a new partition table to the hardisk with FDISK /MBR , did that not work?

    if it did but you can't see the files that where originally on the harddisk try a file scavenger program, something similar to that of lost and found.

    thats all as i ever do,

    1) Isn't recognised in the Bios (damaged circuit board) change it for an identical
    working one and recover your files then loose the disk.

    2) if its a bootsector virus, (copy a new bootsector from a floppy) FDISK /mbr

    3) if it the data that can't be found then run a file scavenger program can be a
    time consuming job, but you'll get there eventually.

    Works everytime for me well unless its down to the disk being off its bearings then it's off to the lab.

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