The Michelangelo virus was one of the first viruses to capture widespread public attention on such a massive scale. It was capable of destroying the contents of hard drives on the same date as the famous artists’ birthday, March 6th.
This turned out to be more hype than fact, and the hysteria over it made it the first high profile virus. In January of 1992, two major computer manufacturers announced they had erroneously shipped equipment infected with Michelangelo. The media would eventually inflate it’s immediate threat, becoming fascinated with it. This in turn created mass hysteria. Anti virus software flew off the shelves, fueling conspiracy theorists’ wildest dreams.
When March 6th arrived, worldwide incidents were between 10,000-20,000. This was not the widely reported five million the general public expected and the media quit running stories about Michelangelo the same day, hoping to forget the embarrassment. The virus is relatively dead in today’s time, overshadowed by it’s more powerful grandchildren like Blaster and Sobig.
The original CERT advisory on Michelangelo is available from: http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-1992-02.html