October can make people feel a little superstitious. Whether it’s black cats crossing your path, walking under a ladder, or even the fear of Friday the 13th (paraskevidekatriaphobia), things are getting a little spooky. Luckily for people with paraskevidekatriaphobia, October 13th falls on a Thursday this year. However, people in 1987 weren’t so fortunate. This Tech Time Warp goes back to October 13, 1987, to when the Jerusalem virus, also known as the Friday the 13th virus, was born and explores the havoc it caused.
As if the day in itself wasn’t enough to put people on edge, the Friday the 13th virus created chaos that no IT expert was prepared for because it was one of the first major viruses to come into play. The virus targeted .exe files and kept enlarging them, causing the computer to slow down and eventually crash.
Why is it called the Friday the 13th virus? Because it kept coming back to haunt people. Every Friday the 13th, the virus would reactivate itself—year after year. Thankfully, the virus targeted MS-DOS operating systems, so the migration to Windows systems made it obsolete. It is also referred to as the Jerusalem virus because that is the city where it originated.
29 years later
Although we’re not plagued by the Friday the 13th virus anymore, new threats continue to fill our inboxes and browsers with fear. A recently discovered ransomware variant called KillerLocker, preys on those with coulrophobia—a fear of clowns. Not only does it encrypt your files and add a .rip extension to everything, your computer background then changes into an “evil clown.” Once the 48-hour deadline ticks away, it deletes the key to your encrypted files. And losing all those files for good sounds like a small business owners nightmare come to life.