Chernobyl Virus

What Does Chernobyl Virus Mean?

Chernobyl virus is a computer virus created to infect Microsoft Windows-based operating systems. The Chernobyl virus overwrites critical information on infected system drives and corrupts the basic input/output system (BIOS), making it one of the most damaging computer viruses for earlier-model machines running Windows 95, 98 and ME. The virus got its name because it was coincidentally activated on the day of the 13th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.


The Chernobyl virus is also known as CIH, after its creator Chen Ing Hau, or spacefiller, because of the way it fills up the spaces between an infected drive’s files with copies of itself.

Techopedia Explains Chernobyl Virus

The Chernobyl virus is said to be one of the most destructive computer viruses. This type of virus is called a worm, and keeps on replicating itself, filling up the available space between files. The virus’s space-filling feature makes it less detectable by anti-virus software because it does not increase the size of the file, which is one of the tell-tale clues that anti-virus software looks for. The Chernobyl virus also destroys the program files and executable files it infects. By adding scripts, the virus is able to overpower the computer’s processor and slow down its processing speed. The Chernobyl virus also infects the Flash BIOS, which prevents the computer from starting up correctly.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.