Fears of a 10.10.10 computer virus hit internet
Fears that a computer virus could be unleased on October 10 – 10.10.10 – are circulating on the internet, with experts warning users to be careful.
Sunday will be 10.10.10, a date whose symmetry has occurred once a year since 2001 and will do so until 2012.
The date has set off alarm bells with some superstitious people on the internet who fear it could cause their computer's internal clocks to either jam, or for a virus to be let loose.
A Facebook page has been set up with the title "Will my computer still work on 10/10/10 at 10.10am?", while other sites talk about the possibility of hackers unleashing viruses at that time.
Graham Cluley, computer safety expert at Sophos, said: "There's been a long history of virus scares related to specific dates, and it's not that surprising to hear people whispering about the possible risks looming on 10 October 2010.
"But with more than 60,000 new pieces of malware [malicious software] being discovered every day you should realise that you need to be careful about attacks every day of the year."
In the early 1990s computer users were often advised by experts to be particularly careful in the run-up to Friday the 13th, as the then prevalent Jerusalem virus could kick in.
They also advised personal computer users should change their system clock to avoid their computer ever thinking it was Friday 13th, and leapfrog over to Saturday 14th instead. However, changing the clock could often just cause the equally damaging Durban virus to kick in.
The biggest computer fear over dates was in the year running up to the Millennium, when the majority of serious computer experts warned that digital clocks and equipment based on those clocks would fail to work. In the event all the equipment worked perfectly well.
The date is auspicious in many cultures including China where there has been a rush to book the date for weddings.
In Dubai, one hospital has allowed ten expectant mothers to elect the date for their caesarean section.
Dr Tarek Fathey at the City Hospital, Dubai Healthcare City, said: "People opt for special phone numbers or special car numbers, so why not special dates of birth?"
Midwives warned that mothers in Britain should not follow this obsession with dates. Sue Jacob, midwifery adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "After the euphoria of a 10.10.10 birth, what happens next? The after care is so important.
"I'd like to think that any professional in Britain would advise against choosing a specific date for an elective caesarean. But we live in an age where choice is respected and there are private practitioners who may not object."