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Pranksters Spreading The Dreaded ‘Wazzu’

Tue., Aug. 20, 1996

Got a Cougar in your computer? Boot up Microsoft Word and see.

A computer virus that inserts “Wazzu” into Word documents has clawed around Eastern Washington all summer.

Now it has pounced on a Husky target: the computer resource center at the University of Washington.

Who’s the perpetrator? Theories run amok, such as Butch the Cougar at the Apple Cup.

“I heard a story it was a grad student. It was a graduation prank,” said John Cidmore, a UW sophomore who works at the computer lab.

Or a crazed football fan, maybe?

“Go Cougs,” quipped Traci Rieger, assistant director of marketing for WSU athletics. “It’s probably just some students screwing around, having fun.”

WSU computer technician Paul Jacobson said the virus first appeared in February. By finals time, it had spread to a few Spokane Kinko’s. Employees found a fix, but the virus returned two weeks ago at the 7116 N. Division store. WSU students likely are spreading it around via contaminated disks.

Cheney city planner John Jurkovac discovered the virus while writing letters to zoning violators.

“The word ‘Wazzu’ was on every document I had,” he said.

Maybe the virus has artificial intelligence. But whether created in fun or not, viruses can cause real problems. Perpetrators have been prosecuted.

When the “Wazzu” virus infected UW, many Huskies were miffed. The virus leaves its mark daily on student printouts.

“Someone here is probably going to write a response,” Cidmore warned. “We have some pretty smart computer guys.”

, DataTimes



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