Threat Explorer

The Threat Explorer is a comprehensive resource consumers can turn to for daily, accurate, up-to-date information on the latest threats, risks and vulnerabilities.



13 March 2001
13 February 2007
Also Known As:
P98M/Epik.A, W97M/Epik.A, Project98Macro/Epik.A, Macro.Office.Epic, W97M.Epik.A, W97M.Cross.Epik

This virus infects the template when an infected document is opened, and it then infects all opened documents. This virus also disables Microsoft Word macro virus protection and creates a lot of network traffic.

This virus also infects Microsoft Project 98.

This virus is polymorphic. Upon infection, this virus destroys all macros in the ThisDocument storage, disables macro virus protection, and removes the option to display a confirmation message when saving the template.

When opening a clean document on an infected system, or when opening an infected document on a clean system, the virus may--based on the time--display a message with the following properties:

Caption: Epik
Icon: Question mark
Message (On two lines):
Should I hold my head up high? Or should I break down and cry?
What's your epik?

The message is displayed if any digit in the current time is 6, such as 12:36:00 A.M.

At the end of this routine, the virus opens 20 hidden ping sessions, which continually ping the following addresses, asking for 10,000-byte packages:
  • (10 sessions)
  • (20 sessions)

After opening a few infected documents, this virus will have created a huge amount of network traffic, which can only be removed by restarting the computer (or terminating the ping process).

This virus also carries the following lines as comments in its code:

Caress the needle brink in my eyes,
the tears felt like rain.
I watch the darkness hit the tides,
and I'm dying...

Epik (c) 1999 [LineZer0 Oldskewl Tribe]
Hit the road jack, don't you come more


Symantec Security Response encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security "best practices":

  • Use a firewall to block all incoming connections from the Internet to services that should not be publicly available. By default, you should deny all incoming connections and only allow services you explicitly want to offer to the outside world.
  • Enforce a password policy. Complex passwords make it difficult to crack password files on compromised computers. This helps to prevent or limit damage when a computer is compromised.
  • Ensure that programs and users of the computer use the lowest level of privileges necessary to complete a task. When prompted for a root or UAC password, ensure that the program asking for administration-level access is a legitimate application.
  • Disable AutoPlay to prevent the automatic launching of executable files on network and removable drives, and disconnect the drives when not required. If write access is not required, enable read-only mode if the option is available.
  • Turn off file sharing if not needed. If file sharing is required, use ACLs and password protection to limit access. Disable anonymous access to shared folders. Grant access only to user accounts with strong passwords to folders that must be shared.
  • Turn off and remove unnecessary services. By default, many operating systems install auxiliary services that are not critical. These services are avenues of attack. If they are removed, threats have less avenues of attack.
  • If a threat exploits one or more network services, disable, or block access to, those services until a patch is applied.
  • Always keep your patch levels up-to-date, especially on computers that host public services and are accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.
  • Configure your email server to block or remove email that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread threats, such as .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.
  • Isolate compromised computers quickly to prevent threats from spreading further. Perform a forensic analysis and restore the computers using trusted media.
  • Train employees not to open attachments unless they are expecting them. Also, do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses. Simply visiting a compromised Web site can cause infection if certain browser vulnerabilities are not patched.
  • If Bluetooth is not required for mobile devices, it should be turned off. If you require its use, ensure that the device's visibility is set to "Hidden" so that it cannot be scanned by other Bluetooth devices. If device pairing must be used, ensure that all devices are set to "Unauthorized", requiring authorization for each connection request. Do not accept applications that are unsigned or sent from unknown sources.
  • For further information on the terms used in this document, please refer to the Security Response glossary.

To remove this virus:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Run LiveUpdate to make sure that you have the most recent virus definitions.
  3. Start Norton AntiVirus (NAV), and run a full system scan. Make sure that NAV is configured to scan all files.
  4. If any Microsoft Word files are detected as infected by O97M.Epik.A, click Repair.
  5. (Optional) Re-enable the macro virus protection. To do this, click Tools, click Options, and then click the General tab. (Office 2000 users: click Tools, click Security, and set the level to medium or high).

Writeup By: Atli Gudmundsson