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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Rob Rosenberger

Call it Chernobyl — it sounds more ominous

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Friday, 23 April 1999

An ominous graphic from the folks at Sophos THE MEDIA ALMOST forgot to mention ... the original "mother of all viruses" will destroy the computing world again this coming Monday. If you updated your antivirus software last month to detect the brand-new Melissa virus, you may need to update it again to detect the nearly year-old W95.CIH virus.

Some (not all) antivirus vendors spotlighted CIH on their websites. NAI urges clients to stop producing work on PCs "if you are concern[ed] you may have received the virus [yet have] not scanned your system." Now, you might wonder why concerned individuals would not scan for viruses. Ask Boeing: they followed NAI's advice last year. The aircraft giant wouldn't let employees check for CIH and they ordered everyone to shut down their PCs for 24hrs. No word yet on what Boeing will do this Monday.

Sophos warns CIH will trigger on the "thirteenth anniversary of [the] Chernobyl disaster." Indeed, CIH now goes by the alternate name of Chernobyl as you can see in the Sophos graphic shown above. I don't really understand the connection, but it certainly does make this virus sound more ominous. (Boo!) Also, check out Data Fellows' "year of terror" timeline.

"I still believe there hasn't been a virus worthy of mil­lions of alerts." -- Jona­than Wheat (ICSA), com­menting last year about the ori­gi­nal W95.CIH media coverage

Three big-hitters in the antivirus world remain quiet about the coming armageddon. IBM recently sold new PCs with CIH on them, thereby sapping any motivation to declare it a worldwide threat. Symantec and Computer Associates didn't bother to spotlight it on their websites, either. Competitors may point to the recent IBM-Symantec marriage to rationalize why Symantec laid low, but I don't subscribe to this theory. (Symantec downplayed CIH last year, too.)

At any rate, these three major bow-outs gave the now-anemic NAI a chance to hog some valuable media exposure surrounding the virus. [NAI's stock chart courtesy quote.com.]