When one thinks of a museum, the first thought that pops-up into one's head are artifacts that will drift one to a bygone era. Museums that cater to oddities are also not uncommon, and now joining the club is the Malware Museum.
On Friday, the Malware Museum - which has a recorded collection of malware that dogged users in the '80s and '90s (and how the viruses evolved) - went live online, thanks to Internet Archive.
So for those who feel a bit nostalgic and like to reminisce about the good 'ol days when viruses were more limited, did not steal your credit card data and displayed messages or animation, scrambled codes or laughing skulls to alert you of a PC breach, the Malware Museum can become your happy place.
Security expert Mikko Hermanni Hyppönen, the brain behind the online Malware Museum, created a repository of well-known malware programs. The museum has nearly 78 malware examples in its archives, primarily viruses from the 1980s and 1990s.
The emulated collection may be modest, but effectively gives a glimpse into how malware evolved and how PC users were notified of the arrival of the virus in a creative manner, which in retrospect seems amusing.
"The Malware Museum is a collection of malware programs, usually viruses, that were distributed in the 1980s and 1990s on home computers. Once they 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," notes the site.
The collection is representative of only a marginal variety of the DOS malware, which wreaked chaos on the initial PCs. The first-ever computer virus - called Brain - which targeted PCs was recognized in 1986.
Sophos, a security software company, estimated that over 50,000 viruses had been circulating at some juncture from 1986 to 2000.
Although a major chunk of the viruses are nonexistent now, the security vulnerabilities and loops they took advantage of have been long patched by Microsoft (or the fact that the machines they were workable on have been rendered obsolete), and they now offer a peek into this important aspect of computer history.
The emulated versions of the viruses from 1980s and 1990s can be downloaded from the Malware Museum.
While they may not have their original destructive abilities since the code has been removed, the viruses with their visual effects are quite engaging.