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20th Anniversary of Michelangelo Virus Scare 92

Posted by timothy
from the all-the-turtles-feared-dead dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's twenty years since the first big virus scare. According to security blogger Graham Cluley, who has written up his memories of the hard disk wiping virus, John McAfee predicted that around 5 million computers would be zapped by the virus on March 6th 1992. Of course, the truth was nothing like as bad — but the antivirus business was plagued forevermore by accusations of fear-mongering."
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20th Anniversary of Michelangelo Virus Scare

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  • technically (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:05PM (#39261725) Homepage Journal

    They'd have been plagued by claims of fear-mongering with or without this incident since they do it chronically.

    • Re:technically (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SQLGuru (980662) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:11PM (#39261799) Journal

      Back then, I attributed the minimization of effect was due in large part to the publicity. People took precautionary measures. Same as the Y2K problem. It got so much press that people actually took action.

      Was it extreme / over the top? Probably, but news has been about sensationalism for a while -- that's how they attract viewers which in turn attracts advertising dollars. But without the hype, people wouldn't have taken action and the problem would have been worse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NecroBones (513779)

        I really feel it was a combination. It was dramatically over-hyped, but at the same time that did serve to increase awareness and thus diminish the overall impact, much like the Y2K issue as mentioned.

        The article correctly calls it a panic, IMHO.

        I think also the virus was much less effective than people realized for a few important reasons:

        1. Back then people were a lot less likely to have the internal clock set properly on their computers.

        2. When and if the payload would trigger, the virus would eliminate

        • Re:technically (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SQLGuru (980662) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:49PM (#39262331) Journal

          My favorite virus was the Pong virus. I kept an infected 5 1/4" floppy for the longest time. The original versions didn't to anything overly terrible, but each additional infection caused a new ball to appear.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping-Pong_virus [wikipedia.org]

          Computers were so much more fun when people weren't malicious.

          • by forkfail (228161)

            That was a malicious virus. Perhaps it was supposed to be fun/funny, but it crashed machines, and was non-trivial at the time to get rid of.

          • by hurfy (735314)

            The article says it wouldnt work on a XT class computer. Didn't know that. Now i am tempted to go turn on my old XT tonight and see...never did get it disinfected :)

            (tough to fix when it refuses to boot from a floppy instead of HD)

            I think the intial copy came with some used equipment after the the intial scare from a big facility so not everyone panicked (enough)
            I've got an extra infected floppies if you have something that can still use a 360k disk :O

            If anyone can point me to a copy of the virus removal he

      • Back then, I attributed the minimization of effect was due in large part to the publicity. People took precautionary measures. Same as the Y2K problem. It got so much press that people actually took action.

        My father did a programming contract for the Bank of Canada in 1984, to update their systems to be capable of holding a 4-digit year. They, like many banks, did it because 25-year loans (say, for a mortgage) would have already been impacted by the Y2K bug in 1985. I think if you do a little digging, you'll find that all of the mission-critical systems had been updated to be Y2K complaint *long* before the media ever heard that it was a problem. Kind of like the Y2038 problem in Unix... everybody knows that

      • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:11PM (#39263899) Journal

        Bullshit. Sorry, there is no nice way to put it, but the scare mongering was pure, weapons-grade bullshit.

        The REAL problems with any actual critical systems had been readily apparent to any company who would do any kind of forecasting or planning or had any contracts (including any loans given or taken) extending into the future. Even something as non-critical as import-export companies for packaging, or travel agencies or whatever, I know people actually working for them and they were aware at the very least in January 1999 (though most even earlier,) when forecast data or contracts extending in the next year started having problems. I actually know people working for such companies and NONE were waiting for the hype to convince them. As soon as the first report showed up as "uh, it says we'll achieve our goals if we get, uh, minus two thousand dollars a month in sales until 1900", some boss said, "fix the fucking thing NOW."

        Meanwhile things were hyped as needing an urgent fix, that had no problem whatsoever. Network CABLES and speakers were hyped as Y2K Compliant, when, seriously, they didn't even have a calendar in them or anything. Scammers made off with billions from the rest of the economy, in upgrades for things that didn't need upgrading, and replacements for things that didn't need replacing.

        THAT was what the shameless hype did: help some scammers milk the rest of the economy of money that would have been better spent elsewhere. Anyone who took part in spreading that scare, THAT is what they helped achieve: help some parasites loot the rest of society.

        And it didn't even stop there. Things were hyped as going to bring civilization down, like street lights or car electronics which (especially in 1999) didn't even hold the date anywhere and had no use for it, AND which nobody could afford to just yank out and replace wholesale. Yet hordes of shameless snake oil vendors and their PR toadies were hammering non-stop on the idea that OMG, unless your city is blowing its whole budget on their snake oil, come next year all car traffic will halt, airplanes will come crashing down from the sky, and apparently grocery stores will stay closed because everyone is too stupid to figure they still need to go to work if their electronic watch locks up in 2000. It was stuff that wasn't going to get "fixed", not just because it wasn't broken in the first place, but also because nobody was rich AND retarded enough to yank out and replace every single streetlight control module like that. The hype just kept people's fears high, and even tried to amplify them some more, just in case it results in some sale anyway, although chances were 99% that it wouldn't.

        The shameless snake oil vendors and the idiots who helped them spread the panic, were NOT actually doing anyone any problem. In fact if it were a just world, we'd put that kind of parasites out of our collective misery and be better off for it.

        • Meanwhile there were places with a spaghetti infrastructure so fragile that a nearby fart could take things down so Y2K was one of a pile of real threats. Australia's Telstra (former government telecommunications monopoly and still a monopoly on some bottlenecks) was one such example. Y2K was used as an excuse to actually fix some long outstanding IT problems, but of course only at a tiny amount of the total expenditure on the overlying "compliance" bullshit.
          Of course that's a general reliability problem
      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Was it extreme / over the top? Probably, but news has been about sensationalism for a while

        For a while? News has always been about sensationalism. In fact, it's quite tame today compared to 100 or so years ago. There was simply a short lull some decades ago when people actually wanted to be informed about what was going on.

        You are right about the hype, though. If it hadn't been hyped, it would have been bad.

    • They'd have been plagued by claims of fear-mongering with or without this incident since they do it chronically.

      Unfortunately, in the 20 years since they've continued to be plagued by claims of fear-mongering and developed a reputation for parasitism and relative fecklessness against serious threats...

      That's really the worst of it. The state of 'security' on the internet is pretty fucking dreadful. Atrocious all over the place; but the relatively low usefulness, and frequent commercial crassness, of the AV guys manage to still make them look like money-sucking fearmongers.

    • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:25PM (#39263001)
      I was a student at the time and after hearing the news bits about Michelangelo, I found an early virus scanner that was capable of detecting it. I think it was McAfee but not 100% sure. I downloaded it and tested my computer and it was indeed infected.

      I asked the virus scanner to remove it since it said it would/could and sure enough it did. The down side was that Michelangelo was a boot sector infector and removing the virus made the system unbootable and I didn't know how to repair that. End result for me was that March 6th came a bit early.

      But I wanted to track down where the infection came from so scanned all my floppies. I only found it on a few of them but one of the ones I found it on was the driver disk that came with the motherboard I had recently used to build my system. I checked with some friends in the computer shop where I was at school and they didn't believe it could possibly be the driver disk - but as luck would have it, they had a similar new motherboard from the same manufacturer with a still-sealed driver disk marked the same as mine.

      After making sure all was clean, they broke the seal on the driver disk and scanned it. Positive for Michelangelo.

      I don't remember the manufacturer name but wish I did. But the thing was that Michelangelo was being spread with driver disks from this one manufacturer and maybe others. No idea for how long.

      I think sounding the alarm on viruses is the better path. I know some people tune it out and happily believe that they have never had an infection, but the reality now is that the people writing them don't announce their presence if they can help it. It's not about showing off. It's about money and how much of people's the criminals can snatch.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Unfortunately it seems to work. Around 2009/2010 Norton mostly stopped nagging the user with trivial "omfg some bastard set a cookie on your pc!!!" type messages and just quietly got on with its job. Apparently it didn't sell too well though because by 2011 the scary pop-ups were back.

  • by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:15PM (#39261843) Homepage

    And right at the beginning of public awareness of the internet age meant that people were panicking and incredibly misinformed.

    News reports said the virus was transmitted over the phone lines (dial up internet) and suggested turning off potentially infected machines on the day of as a precaution. My father took this to mean he should unplug his answering machine that day because it had a computer chip that timestamped messages and other nifty features. In his mind, computer chip + telephone line = susceptible to the virus.

    Everyone was touting the Information Superhighway at the time, but no one knew what it was, and very few people actually understood the risk a virus could pose. The media drummed up scare stories (just like those nightly investigations into some obscure not-really-dangerous thing) and the uneducated public took the bait. I'm not going to put the blame on the AV manufacturers for this one.

    • And right at the beginning of public awareness of the internet age meant that people were panicking and incredibly misinformed.

      I bet we're all glad they got over THAT.

      Oh, shit. BRB. There's a pedophile on my hard drive.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pinfall (2430412)

        And right at the beginning of public awareness of the internet age meant that people were panicking and incredibly misinformed.

        I bet we're all glad they got over THAT.

        Oh, shit. BRB. There's a pedophile on my hard drive.

        Thank you. We have tracked your ip over freenet and updated your buddy list. Keyloggers and screenshot security features have been installed for your protection. All of your files have been moved to the cloud so you can share them more enthusiastically.
        We have also cleaned your system of any viruses and trojans.

        You do not need to be concerned about viruses any more. You are in our protective embrace.
        Warmly,
        Your Government

    • McAfee would go on to found 'PowWow' one of the first chat clients, which had a fascinatingly bizarre "fake native american" shell corporation running it.

      Paula Giese, what we would call a 'blogger' these days, wrote an extensive expose on the situation. Of course, she died of some obscure disease, and McAfee went on to live a long and happy life, part of which consisted of becoming a new age guru and publishing new age books under a pseudonym.

      This is the foundation of the 'anti-virus' industry, which is fou

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:16PM (#39261865)

    (1) The author must be new to personal computing if he thinks 20 years ago was the first major virus scare. There were plenty around in the ealry 1980's, and some in the 1970s. Why are people so quick to think the first THEY saw was the first there was?

    (2) However many years it has been - 30, whatever - it's a sad, sad commentary on our species that ANYONE gets them any more. People have had 30+ years to learn to use a computer securely, but it seems that most human beings are incapable of learning.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      (2) However many years it has been - 30, whatever - it's a sad, sad commentary on our species that ANYONE gets them any more. People have had 30+ years to learn to use a computer securely, but it seems that most human beings are incapable of learning.

      What were you expecting? We still have people who don't know how to change the oil in their car and we've had cars for 100 years now. Some folks are just not going to learn about these things.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This goes by the assumption that in 30 years virus writers have sat idle and not advanced their craft. Now, apply to this that in the last 30 years desktop computers (and the internet) have turned from a rarity into a necessity, you increase the number of clueless people who didn't have 30 years time to learn and adapt.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Was panicking about those earlier viruses as widespread amongst the Great Unwashed (by 1st-world standards) as with Michelangelo?

      No? Back to your nap, Gramps.

    • by interval1066 (668936) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:49PM (#39262327) Homepage Journal

      dial up internet

      Dial-up internet? 20 years ago? 1992? Are you talking about bbs'? That wasn't the internet. That was you connecting to a bbs. Two computers. Or Compuserv, AOL? Memeory sketchy, but I don't think the internet was what it is until several years later. Unless you were a student at a participating campus/institution, I doubt anyone knew about the "internet". I know, I was there (CSU Chico, CA, '86 alum, we had telerays and heathkit h-19 connected to the CSU system in Butte Hall. Special permission needed to access ARPANet). Might not have even been publicly accessble then. The internet wasn't really known to the public at large until '95 or so.
      Btw; the first true "virus" scare (which was real, btw) was the Tappen worm, that was about '88. And it only scared users in acedemia, since the "internet" (ARPAnet, at the time) was only available to universities, the military, selected think tanks, etc.

      • by jd (1658)

        The Internet was publicly available in the 1980s. Dunno about grandparent post, but anyone in the 80s was quite capable of dialing into the Internet via an IPSS-to-IP gateway (NSFNet offered several that were free). Indeed, the modern Internet in Europe -is- largely just IPSS rebadged, so one could argue that that alone was Internet.

        • But did they know about it? I don't recall the term "internet" being in the media until the early or mid-90's, and in the 80's it most certainly was not the "internet". Also- don't forget that the domain name system wasn't in place until 91 or so, this was when the first browser, Mosiac, was created. If you were dialing into the "internet" you were connecting via telnet, or possibly gopher (remember gopher?), and addressing nodes (computers) via ip address. As for being publiclly available, sure. Infact a l
          • by jd (1658)

            A lot (ok, maybe in the order of a few thousand rather than a few million) of Europeans were using IPSS for gaming in the 80s. Lots of online MMORGs were available to those who knew either the IP addresses or PADs. That's where the big market was at the time. Richard Bartle was a household name at the time - the John Carmack of his era. Everything from "Commodore and Vegetable Games" to "PCW" and "Practical Computing" were covering the online gaming industry at the time.

            Oh, gopher is still around. You see t

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            Technically people didn't call it "internet", most just called it the net, or if they were on more than one then they'd clarify and say arpanet or spannet or whatever particular part of what became the internet was called.

            While they did not have modern DNS they did have hosts files and you could address machines by name and not just IP address. And usenet had a gateway to it all so that you could send mail to "you@there.net" if you wanted.

            Granted there were not a lot of public dial up internet locations.

        • by Nimey (114278)

          In most places you'd have to dial long distance to get to any such thing, and in those days long distance was ruinously expensive. Not to mention most people didn't have computers yet, let alone modems.

          This is for the USA, YMMV for other countries.

          • by jd (1658)

            That was the beauty of IPSS (international packet switch stream) - you dialed a local PAD and could then connect to an X.25-to-IP relay (NSFNet ran several). Much cheaper than long-distance calls, although still not as cheap as people would have liked. British Telecom, especially, gouged heavily. This resulted in several online gamers later being arrested for theft and corruption in order to pay the bills they'd rack up.

      • by tacokill (531275)
        Yes, dial-up internet. Can't speak for others but I was using SLIP and a dial-up connection in the fall of 1991. Not to a BBS/AOL/Compusuck, rather, to the "internet". WWW didn't even exist and we thought Gopher was about the coolest thing since sliced bread.....

        You are correct though that "the internet" didn't really go mainstream until later....1994 or 1995. Tappan worm? I think you mean the Morris worm. They are the same thing.
        • Yeah, Morris worm. Whatever. Haven't given it much thought until now, and that was 25 years ago. Excuse my crufty memory. So how many nodes (websites) were there, roughly, in 1991? Was it as rich a panoply of nonsense like today? I don't see how it could have been.
          • by tacokill (531275)
            No, not even close. There were handfuls of gopher and FTP sites prior to WWW. However, once http got rolling, things increased exponentially. By 1997, we were at the point you describe where there was a panoply of information out there. However, in 1991-1995, it was pretty much all nerds doing nerd things (and we liked it that way!). Usenet was big at this time because it was a natural extension of the BBS days....

            Here [wikipedia.org] is a good link for you that will provide some nostalgia.
            • Oh yeah, usenet. I was a big user until the www took off.
            • by Darinbob (1142669)

              No, BBS was just a Usenet wannabe. The two systems group up independently and at roughly the same time, they are not based off of each other and have very different userbases. BBS systems were for people who had no access to networks in other ways; home users with home computers. They had all sorts of bizarre limitations (upload to download ratios). People who had real access to networks would just dial in to work/school directly.

              And the Morris worm was big news when it happened it affect many universit

      • by Dynedain (141758)

        College in the early-mid 80's was very different than 1992. By '92 a 386 IBM-compatibile PC bought from Costco came standard with Windows 2.5 and an internal ISA modem with Compuserve and Prodigy pre-installed.

        Even thought the WWW didn't yet exist like we know it today, Internet use had spread well beyond BBS. Even my local library had a dial-in digital catalog. A lot of people had machines at the time that were capable of getting the virus, even if they didn't know how to use their machine in a way that wo

        • Internet use had spread well beyond BBS.

          This is my objection. You're confusing "internet" with "bbs". The two are NOT interchangable. "internet" != "bbs". Two different things intirely. Connecting to the internet uses an ip stack, connecting to a bbs uses a much simpler, serial protocol. Its not even a stack, its a serial handshake between two computers. No addressing, no other nodes (except in special lan setups), no protocols other than serial transfer ones. No ftp, not https, no dns. Don't confuse the internet with anything having to do with c

      • >>Dial-up internet? 20 years ago? 1992?

        I can speak for the Cleveland Free-net having free, public, dial-up internet access as of 1989. (I used it occasionally in 1991-92.) Several local BBSes also had internet gateways, which might be a dedicated ISDN line to a university computer center or even just a periodic uplink.

        Are you inadvertently blending the Internet with the World Wide Web? The two terms have basically merged in common parlance, if not for the tech community. Prior to Mosaic's release at t

        • Are you inadvertently blending the Internet with the World Wide Web?

          Having just explained the difference between the two in another post which you obviously haven't seen, and having been aware of the "internet" since '79 do you really think I'm doing that?

      • by Desler (1608317)

        Yes was dialup internet in 1992. Now get back to your nap, gramps.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        You could dial up to internet in the 80s even. Yes the real internet not some wannabe BBS system or compuserve.

        The Morris worm affected a lot of corporate people and was not at all restricted to academia, military, or think tanks! There were a lot of companies on the net, and this worm made national news the same day.

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      There were plenty around in the ealry 1980's, and some in the 1970s

      Strictly speaking there were, indeed, self-replicating viruses in the 70s, but those were really just harmless proofs of concept. Forward to the early 80s (from the always 100% reliable Wikipedia):

      A program called "Elk Cloner" was the first personal computer virus to appear "in the wild"â"that is, outside the single computer or lab where it was created. Written in 1981 by Richard Skrenta, it attached itself to the Apple DOS 3.3 operating system and spread via floppy disk.

      But the harmful viruses, as in malware, started in the mid-80s.

      The first IBM PC virus in the wild was a boot sector virus dubbed (c)Brain created in 1986 by the Farooq Alvi Brothers in Lahore, Pakistan, reportedly to deter piracy of the software they had written.

      Remember, we're talking in terms of major virus scares. In that context, yeah, Michelangelo really was the first biggie that got a lot of people talking and in a fearful state.

      The author seems to know what he's talking about. He talks about earlier vir

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:18PM (#39261905)

    ...but the antivirus business was plagued forevermore by accusations of fear-mongering."

    Symantec's whole business model goes something like this: "Hey, that's a nice computer you have there. A shame if something were to... happen... to it." It's not an accusation, they're quite forward about it... try unsubscribing from their service once you have it. It's easier to just call the bank and say "cancel my card, close the account, burn the evidence." --- though you still have to figure out how to remove said leech software and disable all the damn warnings. Modern antivirus does not go quietly: It threatens to kill you while you're disabling it, like some sick scifi computer.... "Noooo... daaaaaavee.... I loooovvve yooooouu.. *bzzzrrrrt*"

  • Thanks /. (Score:4, Funny)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:20PM (#39261929)
    For making me feel old. And also for reviving not so fond memories of inadvertantly infecting a whole lab full of PCs with the antiexe boot sector virus at the community college I worked at a year or so later.
  • Once again, undeniable proof that I've been working in IT too long. I remember trying to convince scaremongers it wouldn't be that bad.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warhol_worm [wikipedia.org]

    that which will work crossplatform, and bring down the internet in 15 minutes

    it's a frightening and awesome idea to behold

    • Slammer was bad enough - all those infected Windows machines effectively brought down our campus network. Or was it Blaster? All those Windows viruses back in the bad old days seem to blend together anymore.

      Michelangelo ended up being more of a tempest in a teapot.

  • I enjoyed the e-mail correspondence with the Apple/IBM joke in the signature. Interesting what two decades would change.
  • Fear-mongering is hardly anything new. Politicians have been using it since the dawn of civilization.

  • I cannot remember which brand of anti-virus it was, but the box clearly referenced Michelangelo and the date & was obviously done to scare people into buying it.

    Almost worked for me, but the store clerk explained that since I was still using my parents' Apple //c the program wouldn't work on it, and I probably didn't have anything to worry about anyway.

  • Did anyone else notice the joke in the sig of Norton employee?

    Q: What do you get when you cross Apple & IBM?
    A: IBM

    Awesome.

    On a different note, I'm confused by the propagation mechanism of Michaelangelo. The virus itself was installed in the boot sector, but how did it infect a fresh floppy? Did it run from the boot sector?

    Also, is there any information on the actual number of computers infected? Was the damage minimal because there were a lot of infected computers that got cleaned with the much-hyped

    • by Xian97 (714198)
      From what I remember of most boot sector viruses, they would load themselves into memory then infect any other disc inserted afterwards. I had one on an Amiga game like that. You couldn't clean it without making the disc unbootable, instead you just had to remember to power down afterwards to prevent it from spreading. This was back in the days when many people commonly booted from floppy rather than a hard disc. Michelangelo was significant since it went after the hard drive boot sector, not just a floppy.
    • by forkfail (228161) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:49PM (#39264627)

      They ran as TSRs [wikipedia.org], with hooks into the interrupt for disk read/writes.

  • by braindrainbahrain (874202) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:56PM (#39262457)
    "...Why did they name it after one of the Ninja Turtles?"
  • by Xian97 (714198) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:15PM (#39262845)
    I remember seeing one bit of advice back then to just leave your computer off on March 6th, or at the least to change your system clock, since that was when the virus would be triggered. I don't know how many followed that advice, but I am guessing that many people did. I guess many could do that in 1992, unlike today where you can't accomplish anything if the computer is down.
    • You mean it's not March 5, 1992 for the 7306th day in a row! I've been stuck in the early 90s for close to two decades!

      Rush roooooles!!
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        You mean it's not March 5, 1992 for the 7306th day in a row!

        Don't worry, sooner or later you'll get to fuck Andie MacDowell

    • by Nimey (114278)

      In those days most people had completely standalone computers, without even a modem or network card, so realistically the only way they'd get an infection is by sharing floppies, ergo slower spread and geographically contained.

  • In 1989 there was an earlier Malware scare http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_(trojan_horse) [wikipedia.org] claiming to come from "PC Cyborg Corporation" and demanding money. I worked for a company called Cyborg Systems that made payroll software for IBM Mainframes and the like. PC Plod turned up, wondering if we were branching out...
  • by forkfail (228161) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:49PM (#39263505)

    ... our viri were written by true hackers and named after great artists. None of these script kiddie generated bots with names that read like poorly named perl variables.

    Now get off my lawn.

  • Ah yes, the first (and somehow last) virus I ever had on computers. I had a 486 with I think dos 6.22, and was fairly new to computers. If I remember correctly, didnt it add like 666 bytes to every executable? I actually manually went in with a hex editor and cleaned all my files. Its amazing that there were that few executables on the system that I could do that manually. Did anti-virus software even exist then?
  • I guess I'll have to learn more about this virus. There was a video around here somewhere... Ah. Here it is. I'll put it on tonight and see what this is all about. It's a movie called Hackers. Hollywood wouldn't lie to me, right?
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @04:22PM (#39265905)

    I remember the Michaelangelo virus well. It was the first virus to really hit the national news, and lots of users were worried about it. I was working for a consulting firm in Savannah, GA at the time. I like to tell this story about one of our customers who had heard about the virus on the news.

    It was during the Michelangelo hysteria that I received a call from Miss M-, an employee of one of our clients located in the rural town of G-, Georgia.

    "Tell me something", she began in her South-Georgia dialect. "How can you get that vahrus they been talkin' about?"

    Their computer was an IBM AS400, which was totally immune from Michelangelo. I explained this to her.

    "Well, how can you catch that vahrus? How does it move around?"

    "Well, um, through the telephone," I answered.

    Every day, this woman used her AS400 to call a credit card clearing house computer, and I thought that she could put two and two together.

    "The Phone?" she exclaimed. "Well, I mean, how can you get a vahrus over the phone? How can I keep from getting the vahrus? Should I wear gloves or something!"

    It finally occurred to me that she wasn't just worried that her computer could get the virus, but that SHE could get the virus from her computer (and I had just told her she could get it over the phone!).

    I went through a careful explanation as to how it wasn't a real virus like people get, but was just a little computer program. It was called a virus because it copied itself from computer to computer, sort of like the real thing.

    "Oh, my! Well, I'm SO glad I called you. I was SO worried and I didn't know what to do about the vahrus."

    I was in such a state of shock all I could do was say, "You're welcome," and hang up.

  • I can't remember the name of the virus- but there was a Word Macro virus that my university had the hardest time getting rid of- it was on all the computers in the lab. Wahoo virus- or something like that.

    Can't remember the exact phrase- (think it was "Wahoo") - it would randomly insert the word "Wahoo" in documents created on infected computers. I don't think it actually activated until you clicked "print" - so if you wern't checking what you printed off you wouldn't know that the paper you turned into t

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @06:11PM (#39267317) Homepage

    Michaelangelo was *supposed* to go off on a Tuesday. So everyone would have that Monday to go in, make sure all of their machines were clean, and be all prepared for Tuesday.

    Except many system at the time didn't handle the leap day correctly, so they came in on Monday, booted up the machine ... and the payload hit.

  • I still get occasional chain letters that say a virus is coming that will wipe your hard drive.

  • I remember the Michaelangelo virus. Lets see.. Yep. I still have a copy. I suppose I ought to throw that old box of floppies away. I've still got: Michaelangelo, Stealth, Stoned.. I used to use them to test and calibrate virus checkers. A month before Michaelangelo triggered, we did some sampling and determined that it was on hundreds of University computers. So, a couple dozen of us had a hectic month chasing it down and eliminating it. It was everywhere. President's office. Multiple Deans. Tons of Resea

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