Barisan 99: The Mother of All Bugs

IT experts warn that Barisan is not Y2K compliant

February 24th, 1998

KUALA LUMPUR: IT experts nationwide today warned computer users that the country's most widely used operating system, Barisan Nasional, is not Y2K compliant and will not last beyond the year 2000. Despite the popularity of the latest version of this operating system, Barisan 95, these experts said that the new version to be announced soon, Barisan 99, is outdated, obsolete, inefficient and even dangerous to users.

The Year 2000 ("Y2K") problem stems from the use of two-digits to represent the year (e.g. 85=1985) in computer software - software so created may be unable to properly address dates after 1999 (00=1900 not 2000). However, in the case of Barisan 99, the problems stem from other factors.

"Due to its old age, the operating system is now completely riddled with bugs and viruses," says IBM researcher Dr M. S. See. "One particularly nasty virus, nicknamed "Crony", attacks financial spreadsheet and accounting software and dramatically reduces corporate and personal income figures found in users' data files."

Dr See is also doing research on another virus which specifically targets desktop publishing and word processing software. Naming it the "Kadir" virus, it attacks publications and documents on file deleting all text references to words such as 'reformasi', 'cronyism', 'nepotism' and 'political conspiracy'.

Another IT researcher, UTM Professor Chin Ta Ay Tee, is documenting other bugs in the operating system, such as the "Samy" virus. "This virus significantly restricts the flow of information in computers by extracting tolls for the movement of data from one computer application to another." says Ay Tee.

"The "ISA" virus, on the other hand, makes data vanish completely from hard disks, only to emerge weeks, months or even years later, in a very sorry state indeed."

There is also the "Augustine" bug, which causes your computer to ignore all instructions to the computer, producing the same error message every time - "Not relevant".

Advanced computer programmers should be aware of the “FRU” bug. This software glitch will attack any computer programs written in Assembly Language, giving any Assembly code three minutes to disperse peacefully before attacking.

The particularly vicious "Rahim" virus, even affects hardware. "Users have complained of diskettes being placed in disk drives and removing them later, only to find them inexplicably bruised and battered," said Professor Chin.

But perhaps the most dangerous component of Barisan 99 is MAHA.COM, the core program that controls all the basic functions of the operating system. "This program will try and take complete control of every part and component of your computer - from anything you type on the keyboard to everything you see on the monitor," says Dr See. "It has even been known to do strange things with joysticks"

Professor Chin agrees. "About the only thing it doesn't seem to be able to control is the Internet."

Attempts to use anti-virus programs on Barisan 99 have so far failed. Dr See related how he attempted to disinfect his hard disk with the McAnwar Virus Buster. "The operating system simply responded by corrupting the data on the diskette and attempting to destroy the program. This is one mean piece of software."

Perhaps the most damning condemnation of Barisan 99 came from the creator of another authoritarian, dictatorial operating system, Windows 95. When asked to comment on Barisan 99, Bill Gates actually said "I quite like it."

Both researchers advised users to reject the Barisan 99 operating system and switch over to new software now available such as PAScal, DAP 1-2-3 and PRMperfect. "The key word is RE-FOR-MAT! RE-FOR-MAT! Reformat your hard disk. Delete all files. Make sure there is not a single byte of Barisan 99 left on your computer," Dr See advised.

"When we hit the year 2000, the Y2K bug will only cause planes to crash or nuclear power plants to explode. Barisan 99 can do much, much worse."

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