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Infected research

October 17, 2006

In 1991 while pursusing a master thesis in oceonography I got a summer job joining a scientific expedition on a Russian research vessel. For one month we were sailing the northern part of the Barents Sea at the edge to the ice cap. This was the chaotic days of glasnost and many anecdotes could be told about this expedition. I was bringing with me equipment for measuring temperature salinity and pressure from the ocean surface to approx. 400 m depth. When you do these measurements at regular distances along a line you are able to estimate the ocean currents across that line at various depth. I was also bringing along a laptop. It turned out that this was infected with the Yankee Doodle virus the one that was supposed to display the Star Spangled Banner Flag play Yankee Doodle and then erase all text files. I never saw the flag nor heard the computer whistle the tune but the text files definitively had been hampered with. I came back home with sensational data indicating that water in the Barents Sea got less dens the further down you got literary turning the world upside down. Of course all of the data from the expedition were utterly useless.

Getting equipment back from the recent exhibition at Høstutstillingen/Kunstnernes Hus I routinely ran a virus check on the PC used for video. It turned out to be infected by Worm.vb. Running in Safe Mode and disabling System Restore ClamWin Antivirus were able to remove it with no apparent damage to the system.

Fortunately this was not one of those worms that delete media files. The only problem the virus seemed to cause was a minor memory leak requiring a restart of the computer and Max patch twice during the three weeks the exhibition lasted. Apart from that it appears to have been mostly harmless.