The Friday the 13th virus

Filed Under: Malware

Friday 13th
Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia?

A surprising number of people appear to believe that something horrible will befall them when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday. Some are almost paralysed with anxiety as superstition has it that Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck.

And if you're a computer virus historian (or have just been kicking around for a while) you may well remember that Friday the 13th was a notable date for malware as well.

In the late 1980s and early 90s it wasn't unusual to hear "computer experts" and the media advise computer users to be particularly careful in the run-up to Friday the 13th, as the then prevalent Jerusalem virus might spring its payload. Furthermore they often advised that PC users should change their system clock to complete avoid their computer ever thinking it was Friday 13th, and leapfrog over to Saturday 14th instead.

A quick look at the disassembly of the Jerusalem DOS virus confirms that it does trigger on Friday 13th, deleting infected files on that date if the year isn't 1987. Any other day of the year it just spreads across your systems, silently infecting .COM and .EXE files.

Disassembly of Jerusalem virus

Of course, the fact that it only zapped your files on Friday the 13th meant you should actually be on the look out for it every other day of the year. After all, isn't prevention better than cure?

And some preventions aren't that great either. Like changing your PC's system clock to avoid Friday the 13th ever happening.

Anyone who changed their PC's clock to the following day. not only risked messing up numerous other applications on their computer, but were also playing straight into the hands of the Durban virus - which launched its payload on Saturday the 14th.

Remember that computer security should be taken seriously every day of the year.

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One Response to The Friday the 13th virus

  1. Donna Doolittle · 890 days ago

    Alright I'm going in!! Yah lucky day !!
    As soon as you opened you eyes, you were lucky...why...cause you are above ground peeps !! That's a pretty hardcore phobia too.. I'm going to go on memory,friggatriskaidekaphobia.Didn't work, I had to look twice.It sounds fricken ridiculous but who am I to judge. I will not laugh either. I just feel blessed for having been given another day of sights and sounds. So blessings to all who felt doomed, I'll hope that the next Friday the 13th will see you out and about ! CIAO !!PEACE!!!

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.