“This would be a beautiful sight if my essay wasn’t on that computer,” one student commented.
Photo By Maria Dhilla
On Thursday afternoon, the cybersecurity office at UCSD warned all students of a new computer virus plaguing students. The ransomware, called inflewenza, was initially spread when UCSD Health Official Anthony Lu’s laptop was hacked on Monday at 2 p.m. From there, the hackers sent thousands of students emails containing a link to the virus promising the cure to bad grades.
The ransomware attacks users’ computers in a never-before-seen fashion. According to cybersecurity expert Javac Odep Ython, the malicious code is hidden within normal commands, allowing it to slip unnoticed through the UCSD firewalls. He continued, “The malicious code is only one line long, allowing the hackers to place it anywhere and everywhere. If you are scanning a file’s contents and see the line ‘run cmptrfan @ w=1111 rad/s,’ do not execute the file, as it contains inflewenza.”
The first victim of inflewenza, senior Smeagull Iblet, had his computer irreversibly damaged on Tuesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, 2,000 other students had suffered the same fate. “At first I was excited,” said Iblet. “I needed to raise my CSE 11 grade ASAP. But when I clicked the link, my computer went crazy. The fan started spinning super fast and my computer started to fly! After the motor burnt out, my computer fell and shattered on the ground, just when my grade was about to go up. Such bad timing.”
Just one week after the cybersecurity office’s announcement, the computers of half of the students on campus’ computers had been destroyed due to inflewenza. Computer parts littered the campus, with damage to ceilings becoming a major problem. “I was in my 200-person architecture lecture in Wagner Hall when Professor Mosby sent out a quiz link,” said freshman Descare Dofcomp. “Unfortunately, the professor’s computer had been hacked, so the link had inflewenza, and infected everyone’s computers. It was total chaos, as flying laptops filled the air, and we had to evacuate before the roof caved in. The worst part was that everyone got a zero for destroying a building that the professor really liked, and one student failed the class for shredding the professor’s tie.”
However, not all student interactions with inflewenza have been negative. “When I saw all the flying computers, I knew there was an opportunity to make money,” said business major Kapro Fitzgerald. “So I put together a gambling ring inside the construction site for Eighth College.” In Fitzgerald’s gambling ring, two students simultaneously downloaded inflewenza and competed to see whose computer could reach a higher altitude. Fitzgerald even claimed that his gambling ring was sustainable, as parts from the destroyed computers are being donated to be used as building materials for an ongoing rebuild of Wagner Hall.
“After a while, everyone was too afraid to use their computers, and professors switched over to the older ways of education,” sophomore Steven Silincia said. “Sure, it’s hard carrying slates, chisels, and a hammer, but it sure beats destroying my computer every class.”