Offering a glimpse of an important part of computer history, the new Malware Museum is an online collection featuring emulated versions of MS-DOS viruses from a simpler time. Assembled by Mikko Hermanni Hyppönen, the chief resource officer at Finnish security firm F-secure, the programs can be found on the non-profit Internet Archive, which is dedicated to providing permanent access for researchers and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format, courtesy of its curator, Jason Scott.
The new collection of emulated malware programs — typically viruses that were distributed in the 1980s and 1990s on home computers — launched just few days ago on February 5, 2016, and has already attracted more than 100,000 visitors.
“I only chose interesting viruses,” Mr. Hypponen told Zoe Kleinman, a technology reporter at BBC News.
Once the viruses infected a system, they would sometimes show animation or messages that you had been infected. Through the use of emulations, and additionally removing any destructive routines within the viruses, this collection allows you to experience virus infection of decades ago with safety.
“Malware writers weren’t always all about the money,” says Liam Tung of ZDNet. “As the Internet Archive’s new Malware Museum highlights, during the 1980s and 1990s, when malware was spread by floppy disk, destruction was often wrought with creative flair.”
In an age before silent botnets, malware that hit DOS personal computers was sometimes simply annoying, or sometimes it would corrupt files or mess with the user’s system. “But,” says Ian Paul of PC World “it always did it with style.”
“Rather than the silent-but-deadly viral attacks of today, the attention-seeking malware of yesteryear featured animations, taunts and even games that would flash up on your computer screen as the virus took hold,” Patrick Barkham explains in The Guardian. “The viruses often reflect the adolescent character of their creators, from the trippy LSD.com, with its rainbow plasma effects, to the marijuana leaf and ‘legalise cannabis’ message of Coffshop.com.”
Anyone who would like to experience what it would have been like to encounter the malware on an old IBM PC can now play a game such as Casino, aka Disk Destroyer, at the Malware Museum via the Internet Archive’s DOS Box emulator, which it uses to support its MS-DOS games archive. And don’t worry — the viruses have all been scrubbed of their destructive routines for safe viewing.
About the Internet Archive
The Internet Archive was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now, the Internet Archive includes: texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in its collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.
- Visit The Malware Museum