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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Perhaps CIH didn't wipe out so many PCs after all

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Thursday, 6 May 1999

One press release asserts CIH "taught everyone a valuable lesson: buy PowerQuest Corp.'s powerful data recovery tool."

PERHAPS CIH DIDN'T permanently wipe out as many computers as the media originally feared. Look at these recent announcements:

  • A Bangladeshi college student made international headlines on 3 May when he claimed to have "invented a software program that can quickly revive computers crippled by the 'Chernobyl' virus... 'A friend had asked me to do something to help recover his lost data following the CIH attack,' [Monirul Islam Sharif told a Reuters reporter]. 'I found that my formula was able to recover his lost data.' "
  • A university teacher in China made international headlines on 4 May when he claimed "he has discovered ways to repair the hard drives of computers damaged by the CIH Chernobyl virus... [Mao Xinwei's] notebook computer was affected by the CIH virus on April 26, as the virus swept China. He worked all night and finally found an antidote to the virus, and recovered all the data on his three CIH-affected computers."
  • PowerQuest issued a press release on 30 April saying "the Chernobyl virus ... has taught everyone a valuable lesson: buy PowerQuest Corp.'s powerful data recovery tool." A "patent-pending" solution, of course.

In the final analysis, the media crowned Mao Xinwei as a virus expert because CIH destroyed his computers. Mind you, reporters often reprint the "do as I say, not as I do" advice of people whose computers succumb to viruses.

The media hailed Monirul Islam Sharif as a virus expert because he restored data on two computers using a dinky little program written on a lark for a friend. This kid makes a boastful claim about his utility: "it can retrieve data much more quickly and efficiently than any of the other customized software of multinational computer giants available on the Internet." Dhaka University professor Rafiqul Islam backs Sharif's claims, noting "with his software you can recover lost data within a few minutes... while it takes hours by others."

Mao & Sharif promised to offer their utilities via the Internet. I'd gladly provide links to them -- but I didn't find anything as of today. An Internet search for the teacher came up cold; however, a search for the student yielded an interesting match. It seems a friend of Sharif's calls him "one the best two programmers in Bangladesh." Makes you want to know the name of the other programmer, doesn't it?

I'd love to see the data from this kid's comparison tests — assuming, of course, he actually conducted tests before boasting to reporters.

We can assume Professor Islam studied Sharif's comparison tests before he backed the student's boastful claims. Someone should ask the good professor how PowerQuest fared. Man, I'd love to see the data from those tests.