It seems to be taking it all very seriously, so here goes.
There’s a monster, with no nose, who’s allegedly a computer virus that’s escaped into the real world…
…who can literally suck the ones and zeroes out of monitors, not the computers themselves…
…and who – if you try to use a landline phone next to a coffee cup that’s plugged into a TV – will…
…possess the phone with its virus-ness, I guess, physically tearing it apart, and…
…um… and then ‘program’ the ten feet of wire inside the phone to leap out and attack you…
…because, uh… because it, um…
…because it can do that.
I mean, sure, not everyone had the best grasp of technology, science, and science fiction in 2001, but still, I can only assume the writer based this all on a 10-minute inebriated tech support call he had with his nephew last spring.
A PSA: how to protect yourself from the WannaCry virus
You might have heard about it in the news: there is currently a global computer virus pandemic called WannaCry infecting Windows computers and encrypting all their contents so that they’re unusable. Most antivirus programs already have protections against it now, and the latest version of Windows has patched the exploit that it uses to spread, but just to be safe you should probably update Windows and disable the “Server Message Block” file-sharing protocol that it uses to spread.
Just search “Turn Windows features on or off” in the search bar and it should come up with a list of check boxes. Uncheck the box that says “SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support” and click OK. It should then ask you to restart your computer. Do that. Also, run Windows Update and make sure you’re upgraded to the latest version. Again, Microsoft has already patched the flaw, but you need to update to the latest version in order to fix it.
Do this for every Windows computer you own. This is a really, really nasty virus. Stay safe guys.
EDIT: I should probably stress that this should have no impact whatsoever on your computer’s functions. No one uses SMBv1 anymore, mostly because it’s extremely outdated and full of vulnerabilities like the one WannaCry exploits. Deactivating it just means there’s just one less vulnerability. SMBv2 and SMBv3 are pretty important, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just turn SMBv1 off and leave it that way forever.
UPDATE: A software engineer has figured out how to decrypt some computers affected by WannaCry. Luckily, the virus doesn’t scrub all the evidence of the encryption process, so in theory it’s possible for a program to put the encryption key back together from the evidence it leaves and unscramble the computer. You can find the decryption tool here, and a video on how to use it here (it starts with the command line already open; to open the command line just hit start and then search “cmd”). HOWEVER, it will only work if
1) the computer in question hasn’t been rebooted
2) some other process hasn’t overwritten the part of the memory that the virus used to generate the key
So if you or someone you know has been affected, DO NOT REBOOT THE COMPUTER, and DOWNLOAD AND RUN THE DECRYPTION PROGRAM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If the computer has been rebooted since its infection, the program will not work. If some other process has wiped out the evidence, the program will not work. It’s not a perfect fix, but it’s better than shelling out $300 worth of bitcoin to some malicious hacker group somewhere.
Evolutionary biologists have never known
what to make of viruses, arguing over their origins for decades. But a
newly discovered group of giant viruses, called Klosneuviruses, could be
a ‘missing link’ that helps to settle the debate — or provoke even more
In 2003, researchers reported that
they had found giant viruses, which they named Mimiviruses, with genes
that suggested their ancestors could live outside of a host cell1.
The discovery split researchers into two camps. One group thinks
viruses started out as self-sufficient organisms that became trapped
inside other cells, eventually becoming parasitic and jettisoning genes
they no longer needed. Another group views viruses as particles that
snatched genetic material from host organisms over hundreds of millions
A study2 published on 6 April in Science
provides evidence for the latter idea, that viruses are made up of a
patchwork of stolen parts. But it has already sparked controversy and is
unlikely to settle the raucous debate.
La Scola, B. et al. Science 299, 2033 (2003).
An illustration of what a Klosneuvirus might look like.
Ella Maru Studio