Ministries in Bulgaria and New Zealand Fight Computer Viruses

The Bulgarian Interior Ministry and the Health Ministry in New Zealand are being confronted with virus outbreaks on their computer networks. The infections have hindered the normal operations in several departments.

Bulgaria's Minister of Interior, Mihail Mikov, announced that an unnamed computer virus had spread on the nationwide computer network operated by the ministry. According to him, operations that required heavy use of computer systems, such as the issuing of identity documents or the activity of the traffic police, had been most affected.

The outbreak seems to have originated in the network of Sofia's Direction of Interior Affairs, and the incident escalated last Thursday when parts of the computer infrastructure had to be isolated. The Ministry is in process of cleaning the virus from its network, but, according to Mr. Mikov, the action is advancing at a slow pace because each computer has to be checked and cleared individually.

“Things like that happen not only here, other countries have had the same problem as well,” the Minister of Interior commented, and he was right, as at almost the same time, in another part of the world, the New Zealand Minister of Health was fighting a mutating computer virus.

Alan Hesketh, deputy director general of New Zealand's health information directorate, noted that the  e-mail system had to be shut down in order to contain a computer virus outbreak that had wrecked havoc the Ministry's network the past week. Some other external services might also be affected, Mr Hesketh noted, but he gave assurances that no payments made through the Ministry's Proclaim system had been compromised.

The ministry is having trouble with handling the infection, because the virus has mutated to a new, more resilient variant. “The virus has mutated, Variant B has arrived. We actually have a way of removing variant A off our systems, so we are confident we can figure out how to get this new variant off as well. We are working with the vendors to get this procedure in place,” an internal advisory read, according to Computer World New Zealand.

The virus has not been named, probably for security reasons, but it's said to be causing blue screens on affected computers once every five minutes. Symantec, who's products are being used by the Ministry in order to protect its network, have been contacted in order to help with the containment efforts.

We recently reported that the U.S. Army was confronted with a similar outbreak, which led to a temporary ban of all removable media devices on its networks. Three London hospitals also had to deal with a virus spreading through e-mail on their common computer network.

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