Friday, March 05, 2004

1 2 years ago today?

What were you doing 12 years ago? I can actually remember. March 5, 1992 I was cruising all over town - even had Channel 3 and 8 following and filming me. Why?

Because on March 6, 1992, the Michelangelo Virus was going to kick in.

Viruses were new back then - this was pre-Internet (the Internet we know today at least) days and most infections were caused by sharing floppy disks. I used to go to the library and borrow software whenever I wanted to test a new virus. Those disks were like Petri dishes - every virus out there seemed to end up on those disks.

The hype was enormous - this was all new to a world that was increasingly dependent on their PC as a business tool. We weren’t sure what exactly would happen.

I remember explaining to Channel 8’s Martin Savidge just what possible damage could be done. Now the level of naivety seems almost quaint as we are accustomed to routine virus and worm outbreaks.

My advice back then is the same as it is now - backup your important data regularly, store it offsite, test the restore process occasionally and keep your anti-virus definitions current. Now I add, make sure your systems patches are up to date.

Michelangelo did little damage compared to the hype. There were random outbreaks, many in Japan, and some annoyances and expense, but nothing like some predicted. All the exposure may have done some good in alerting people to possible infections and the need for backups.

My favorite virus (yes, I had favorites because most were not malicious) was the Cookie Virus. It would randomly, and with increasing frequency, pop up a window on your screen with the message “Give me a cookie.”

If you knew, or guessed, to type in “Oreo” it would say thanks and remove itself. Those were indeed simpler days.