Throwback Thursday: Revisit Old Viruses at the Online Malware Museum

Throwback Thursday: Revisit Old Viruses at the Online Malware Museum

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In these times of mega-hacks and massive data breaches, technology risk assessment has become a fact of life for every business. In comparison to automated botnets, the “good old fashioned” human hacking of yesteryear seems quaint, even a little nostalgic. Do you remember the malware and viruses from the 1980s and 90s? The Online Malware Museum does.malware

A Trip Back to Simpler Times

The Internet Archive has long performed its mission of retaining copies of our internet history. As it turns out, that preservation instinct even includes viruses and malware.

At the Malware Museum, the archive presents a curated selection of nearly 70 destructive programs and routines, mostly viruses, with a bit of malware thrown in for flavor. The Archive’s coders have carefully removed all malicious code from the selection, leaving only the text messages and simple (once so ubiquitous and annoying) low-bit graphics that were once the cutting edge for hacker “trolling.”

After loading a simple DOSbox emulation module, visitors to the Museum can see what messages they might have received after a successful hacking on an old Windows 95 PC, or even older.

A Prized Collection

In keeping with the theme of simpler times, when hackers were motivated more by notoriety and a sense of the hunt than mercenary or political zeal, many of the exhibits could be termed outright charming.

Consider the SKYNET.COM virus, whose friendly missive, “Don’t be afraid. I am a very kind virus.” is only belied by the text heading “Terminator Message” above. Even its threat is kindhearted, as it warns, “I will let your computer slow down. Have a nice day, goodbye.”

The museum even offers visitors an insight into the prehistoric past of the memes that now dominate the internet. At the exhibit for the malware software Q FRODO.COM, the hacker exhibits the mix-and-match meta-commentary that’s so common in today’s meme world, with nothing but a flashing marquee proclaiming “FRODO LIVES!” in a mash-up reference to both Lord of the Rings and the death of Tupac Shakur.

Even nationalism takes it turn in the spotlight, as the malware ITALIAN.COM displays a 16-bit Italian flag overlaid with the declaration, “ITALY IS THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.”

Visitors can even see the fetal form of the “V for Vendetta” meme that took place a decade before the movie’s release, as malware Q V SIGN.COM displays a simple graphic of the eponymous V logo.

Charming as the museum is, visitors can be forgiven for deciding that an exhibit of today’s malware and viruses would be much less friendly. Contact Garland Heart today to find out how you can keep your network safe in today's (not-so-friendly) cybersecurity landscape.
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