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FAT32 New Problems for Anti-Virus, or Viruses? (version 1.01)

Martin Overton
October 1997

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The sudden appearance of FAT32 in service pack 2 for Windows '95 has brought some new complications for both viruses and anti-virus software. What's worse is the update is only available to OEMs to ship on new PCs. It's been dubbed Windows '96-and-a-half, as it is just a short stop from Windows '97 (now finally called Windows '98). What are the implications of Microsoft's latest addition to the file system format jungle? Can the existing anti-virus software handle FAT32? Can the existing boot and partition sector viruses infect FAT32 successfully, and without making the system unbootable or unusable? Will file-infecting viruses be affected? This paper aims to deflate the myths, clarify the differences and report the results of testing the above scenarios.

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