Classical Computing

Recently a friend linked me to a rather interesting Microsoft Knowledge Base article entitled “Computer Randomly Plays Classical Music”. The basic premise behind the article is that some BIOS manufacturers are using certain well known tunes in order to alert users to possible hardware failures on their motherboard.

After much disappointment upon finding out that my motherboard is not lucky enough to have this particular BIOS feature, I noted that the article mentions that these symptoms may point to the possibility of a malware infection. Luckily it goes on to explain that this is not the case, and suggests that you have your computer checked to avoid more serious hardware problems.

However, all of this raises an interesting issue. What happens when your computer does start playing music unexpectedly, and it most certainly is not the soothing tones of “It’s a Small, Small World”? The question intrigued me, so I took some time to go back over the various examples of music playing malware that we have seen over the years.

W32/Music (November 2000) – Plays the first few bars of the song “We wish you a Merry Christmas”.

Troj/Cdopen-E (November 2005) – Plays a short tune on the internal speaker before opening and closing the CD Drive…repeatedly.

Joke/Anthem-A (December 2005) – Plays the French national anthem through the internal speaker.

While none of these are particularly malicious or difficult to get rid of, they really do drive home a very simple message. If your car started to drive erratically and flash its lights randomly, you’d take it in to have it checked. The same thinking should apply to your computer. Keep your security software up to date, and make sure you investigate any strange system behaviour before it gets out of hand.