I was working for a bank in Boston in 1988 as a Systems Support Coordinator. Basically, I was the bank’s first level support for any computer issues people might have. I did computer upgrades, fixed the PCs or printers when they went down, instructed people on how to do things, etc.
It was a bit of a stressful time because the news of a computer worm (commonly referred to as a virus) had hit the mass media and all of a sudden, banks and may other companies were concerned about whether their computers and the information on them was at risk. The Robert Morris worm disabled nearly 6,000 computers. Fortunately, for banks and other commercial enterprises, it was 1988 and the ARPANET, as it was known was limited to the defense department, universities and scientific research organizations. This was prior to Al Gore “creating the internet.”
So, we were doing PC hardware upgrades one day in the bank’s collections department when the department’s administrative assistant said, “Norb, can I ask you a question?” I said, “Of course!” She said, “Is it true what I heard on the news last night? You can get sick from your computer? You can get a computer virus?”
Now, some of you might be chuckling about this, but keep this in mind. I had worked for a computer company and knew about viruses, but they were fairly new. I simply explained that virus was a term used to describe computer programs that can disable or destroy a computer and that you cannot get sick from your computer.
Of course, now it turns out that I am wrong. Because if you use a shared computer that someone else has touched, you could get a real human virus from the computer. Always wipe down the keyboard and mouse (and the screen on a mobile device) before you start using a shared computer. And always have anti-virus software installed on your computer with an active subscription. The subscription only costs around $30/year and protects your computer against new threats that come along.