Michelangelo Spares County Computers

Carroll Computers Spared Wrath Of Michelangelo

March 08, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Michelangelo's birthday passed Friday without a glitch in any of thecomputers used in county and school government offices.

Checks ofthe 225-plus computers in county offices and the 125 or so in schooloffices failed to show any sign of the highly destructive computer virus known as Michelangelo.

"Nothing has happened," said Norman Long, computer services manager for Carroll schools. "There's been no sign of the virus."

Dittofor the computers in county offices.

"We have not found any sign of the virus in our systems," said Thomas J. Van de Bussche, directorof the county's Bureau of Management Information Services.

The virus was slated to strike March 6, the birthday of the Italian artist,wiping out stored data. It enters computers through floppy disks.

"We felt pretty comfortable that it was not on any of our personal computers," Van de Bussche said. "We've been running a software program titled 'Untouchable' that scans computers and the diskettes for theexistence of viruses, not just Michelangelo but a number of different viruses."

Working against a midnight deadline Thursday, three employees made the rounds among all county-owned micro computers duringthe past week or so to run virus-checking programs to scan for Michelangelo, he said.

"We felt pretty comfortable that we were on top of it," he said.

Because Michelangelo is a destructive virus, it has received a lot of publicity and made a lot of computer users nervous.

"It will go in and cause data files to be erased," he said. "There is no way of recovering the data with any of the recovery utilities."

For the county to lose any kind of stored data would have been disastrous, he said. He said computers used in county offices store everything from budgets to warehouse inventory to correspondence and court transcripts.

"Most everybody is using word processing for correspondence," he said. "The list goes on and on and on. One of thesimplest things we would have on computers is mailing labels the county tourism office would use for promotionals.

"Our offices would be hard pressed to reconstruct information that is lost," he added.

Long said the school system used a scan system to detect whether the virus was in any of its computers, which are used in most administrative offices and store a wealth of information, ranging from financial to pupil personnel data.

"Basically, we were doing the same procedures as the county government was doing," he said.

Van de Bussche said a few county computers have been affected with the "stoned" virus, which showed up on three personal computers and six discs a couple of weeks ago.

With that virus, a message popped up on screens reading "stoned" and hung up the computer, Van de Bussche said.

"To my knowledge it does not do any destruction to your system," he said. "You just need to get an anti-virus program to check your system out."

Like other viruses, it was transported via floppy discs. Van de Bussche said someone apparently brought in a disc from an unknown source or friend and used it in the county system.

"That's the waywe felt it got into our system," he said.

He said the Michelangelo virus apparently originated in either Sweden or the Netherlands.

More viruses are coming down the pike, he said. The Jerusalem virus,which has been traced to its namesake city, is expected to hit March13. Another virus is expected to strike March 15.

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