NIU computers survive virus

By Matt Michalek

Although the Michelangelo virus wiped out more than 10,000 computers worldwide, NIU computers emerged unscathed.

Michael Prais, director of Academic Computing Services, said even though the virus was found in several places on campus, no loss of data was reported.

The Michelangelo virus was scheduled to become active on March 6, the 517th anniversary of the birth of the Renaissance artist.

“Academic Computing Services copied more than 125 copies of the anti-virus software for faculty and staff to use on their computers,” Prais said.

Secretaries in the English department and College of Business both said the virus had no effect on their systems.

Charles Rutstein, staff researcher at the National Computer Security Association in Washington D.C. said the virus affected more than 10,000 computers worldwide.

“In the United States, a couple thousand computers were affected,” he said, adding that mostly small businesses and personal computers were the victims.

“The virus caused unneeded worry and concern. It created some unusual work that interrupted our ability to do our normal activities. Overall, it cost us a lot of time.”

The number of computers affected on March 6 is a lot smaller than the number of infected computers, Rutstein said.

“We know firsthand that we killed a lot of copies of the Michelangelo virus before March 6,” he said. “In addition to killing the Michelangelo virus, we also found and killed many other viruses while looking for Michelangelo.

“The press brought the virus into the open, and focused a lot of attention on Michelangelo and computer viruses in general,” he said. “Without this, the effects of the virus could have been a lot worse.”

Even though there was no data loss at NIU, the virus still caused problems.