Chernobyl Virus


The Chernobyl Virus, also known as CIH or Spacefiller, is a computer virus first discovered in 1998. It is highly destructive and can overwrite critical information on an infected system’s hard drive, including the system’s BIOS, making the computer unusable. Its peak impact was observed on April 26th, 1999, coinciding with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster anniversary, hence its name.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Chernobyl Virus” is “chair-noh-buhll vahy-ruhs”.

Key Takeaways

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  1. The Chernobyl Virus, also known as CIH and Spacefiller, was one of the most harmful computer viruses of the 20th century. It was created in 1998 by a Taiwanese student, and it was named “Chernobyl” due to its activation date being April 26, which coincides with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster anniversary.
  2. Upon execution, the Chernobyl Virus remains latent in the system until the 26th of any given month. Once activated, it overwrites data on the infected machine’s hard drive and can even attack the system BIOS, rendering computers unbootable without significant repair.
  3. Despite its age, the Chernobyl Virus has had long-lasting impacts on how we address computer security. It’s an example of the harm a computer virus can potentially cause, and its infamy has prompted consumers and software developers to prioritize anti-virus protection and security patches to prevent such attacks.



The technology term “Chernobyl Virus”, also known as CIH or Spacefiller, holds significant importance in the realm of computer viruses due to its notorious nature and drastic impact. First identified in 1998, the Chernobyl Virus was designed to damage the system bios and overwrite data, thereby rendering an infected PC unusable – an action that earned it its ominous name. It was one of the first computer viruses to have a destructive payload and it struck globally, emphasizing the growing interconnectivity of our world and the vulnerabilities therein. Notably, it introduced the concept of risks associated with downloadable content and served as an early lesson in digital security, eventually causing software creators and users to take virus threats more seriously and invest more in antivirus protection.


The Chernobyl Virus, also known as CIH or Spacefiller, is a notorious computer virus that had the purpose of infecting Windows 98, Windows 95, and some other Windows OS files. It was designed and released in 1998 by a Taiwanese student named Chen Ing-Hau, who intended to showcase the vulnerabilities that were prevalent in Microsoft’s Windows 98 OS. The name “Chernobyl Virus” was derived from the date when the virus was initially activated, April 26, which coincides with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster’s anniversary.This destructive computer virus was notorious for its ability to overwrite critical information on the infected system’s hard drive, rendering it inoperable. But what really sets the Chernobyl virus apart is its capacity to flash the BIOS, which is the part of a computer that is required to boot up the system. The erasure or corruption of the BIOS renders the entire PC non-functional, requiring only a hardware replacement to fix the issue. Thus, the virus led to one of the most significant damages ever to have resulted from a cyber-attack – millions of computers around the globe got affected on the day of its activation.


The Chernobyl Virus, also known as CIH or Spacefiller, was a computer virus that surfaced in the late 1990s, causing extensive damage to computers running on Windows 95, 98, or ME operating systems. Here are three real-world examples:1. South Korea: In April 1999, thousands of computers in South Korea were impacted by the Chernobyl Virus. Government offices, universities, and television networks were heavily affected in what was the country’s most extensive computer virus outbreak at the time.2. At home users: Owing to the widespread nature of the virus, many households were affected as well. The virus would delete critical information on the hard drives of users’ personal computers and even attempt to flash the BIOS, effectively rendering the computer unusable.3. Businesses: Many businesses experienced a substantial disruption due to the Chernobyl Virus. It was reported to have caused significant damage to the infrastructure of several companies, leading to huge financial losses. Individuals who were not well-versed in how to protect their systems from viruses were especially vulnerable. Please note that the full impact of the Chernobyl Virus is hard to quantify, as many instances of damage likely went unreported or were improperly attributed to other factors.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is the Chernobyl Virus?A: The Chernobyl Virus, also known as CIH or Spacefiller, is a computer virus that first emerged in 1998. It was designed to erase data from the hard disk and to destroy the computer’s BIOS. Q: Who created the Chernobyl Virus?A: The Chernobyl Virus was created by Chen Ing Hau (CIH), a student from Taiwan, hence its alternative name CIH Virus.Q: What does the Chernobyl Virus do?A: The Chernobyl Virus is designed to trigger on certain dates, particularly on April 26, correlating with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster anniversary. Once activated, it overwrites data on the hard drive and can even attack the system BIOS, rendering the computer unusable.Q: How does the Chernobyl Virus spread?A: The Chernobyl Virus typically spreads via infected software. When the infected application is run, the virus reproduces itself and attaches to other executable files on the system intensifying its spread.Q: How can I detect the Chernobyl Virus?A: As with other viruses, the presence of the Chernobyl Virus can often be detected using antivirus software. Some symptoms of infection may include unusual system behavior, unexpected crashes and loss of data.Q: How can I protect my computer from the Chernobyl Virus?A: Regular updates of antivirus software, avoid downloading software from untrusted sources, and regularly backing up important data are some preventive measures against the Chernobyl Virus. Q: What should I do if my computer is infected with the Chernobyl Virus?A: If you suspect your computer is infected with the Chernobyl Virus, you should run a full system scan with an updated antivirus software. If the BIOS has been damaged, it would require technical knowledge or a professional to replace or reflash the BIOS.Q: Is the Chernobyl Virus still a threat today?A: While not as prevalent as it was during the late 1990s, the Chernobyl Virus could still pose a risk particularly to systems running older unpatched operating systems. However, modern antivirus software and operating systems have measures in place to detect and prevent such attacks.

Related Finance Terms

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  • Boot sector virus
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