The following item was posted on the Prodigy Classic service not too long ago.

TIME:    12/07  4:10 PM

TO: ALL FROM: [culprit's name removed to avoid further embarrassment] SUBJECT: VIRUS ALERT

There is a new horrible virus on the loose! created late November by elite hacker "DEATH-BLAZE." The virus is full stealth and Trojan, once thought never possible, it first formats the hard drive, then it physically eats at the materials of the drive. researchers are stunned, they say it is probably the most destructive virus ever created.

The virus's name is "death69" witch as I stated earlier was created by elite hacker "DEATH-BLAZE"

none of the anti virus programs as of today can detect this virus, it is to be hoped that they will be able to very shortly.

The virus is usually sent over e-mail, it is self- executable witch means as soon as you open an infected e-mail it infects your computer. it has also been known to be on files that are downloaded from the internet.

be CAREFUL and send this notice to anyone everyone that you can, and if you talk to this hacker "DEATH-BLAZE" try get as much information about the virus and give it to Norton antivirus and all the rest of the antivirus programs.

written by the technicians at Norton Antivirus! distribute freely.

My first thought when I read this was "Geez, I use this product, and the manual wasn't written this badly."

Anyway, I duly went to the Symantec Web site, and found nothing about "death69", but did find a whole page full of virus hoaxes, including the mother of all alleged E-mail viruses, the so-called "Good Times" virus.

Since "death69" wasn't being discussed in Symantec's CompuServe forum, either, I sent a copy of the above ALERT to a member of the NAV staff. He found it risible, as did a few other staffers, not to mention an official of a drive manufacturer which I contacted with the story.

Now I said all that to say all this:

  1. While computer viruses are a legitimate threat, they don't actually dissolve drive components. (Supposedly, you could fry a chip on the old Commodore PET by poking 53 into one specific memory location, but that's hardly a virus.)

  2. No hacker worthy of the name is likely to take kindly to being referred to as an "elite hacker", or even to be referred to at all; stealth is far more valuable to truly hackish types than fame, even net.fame.

  3. Pretty much everyone I heard from at Symantec can spell.
The Vent

16 December 1996

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 Copyright © 1996 by Charles G. Hill