The '10-10-10' virus that wasn't. Are we afraid of binary numbers?
The human mind is fixated with the idea of connecting dates to expected disaster, the better to make the random comprehensible. A neat example of this phenomenon was the recently rumoured ‘10-10-10’ virus, that didn’t strike at...
A neat example of this phenomenon was the recently rumoured ‘10-10-10’ virus, that didn’t strike at 10.10am on 10 October 2010 as every rational person suspected it wouldn’t.
The lure of numbers the numbers 10.10.10.10.10 was just too good for the rumour-mongers. Is it some deep-seated fear of binary that frightens people? There are relatively few completely binary dates in any calendar, and all are limited to the first 11 years of any century, 11 months of any year and 11 days of any month.
The voice-of-common-sense Graham Cluley of security company Sophos points out that this is a hopeless misunderstanding of computer threats. Malware did in fact strike at 10.10am on October 10th 2010 in the sense that it strikes every day anyway.
Malware is omnipresent and undemonstrative and doesn’t need a special date combination, binary or otherwise, to attack users en masse. Indeed, advertising a special data seems to defeat the element of surprise.
But before ditching the date scaremongering let’s not forget the Michelangelo boot sector virus that saved its payload for 6 March 1992 (the artist’s birthday), or the Y2K scare that terrified people with the unknown and unquantifiable aspects of calendars having to cope with the date 01-01-00.
Away from the Internet , it was surely not a coincidence that the 9/11 attack on New York happened on the anniversary of the Black September plane hijackings in 1970, the date widely considered to mark the start of the modern terrorist era.
Dates can be important occasionally, to people if not machines.
Desperately searching for significance in 10.10.10, various sources have come up with this one for admirers of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - it’s binary for the decimal number 42. Douglas Adams, at least, would have understood why 10.10.10 is nothing to worry about.
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