5 of the most infamous Computer Viruses and Malware
The World Wide Web went public back in 1991. This allowed people to share all sorts of data with one another around the globe at an instant. Not everybody had good intentions though.
Every user of modern technology is aware of computer viruses. They’re a sort of malicious software (hence the word “malware”) that is designed to replicate itself.
A virus will modify other computer programs to replicate itself by inserting its own code. It’s not something you want to happen, so always make sure your anti-virus is up to date.
People that make these sorts of programs can do good with it, such as helping programmers fix any security holes in their software during development.
However, a lot of them are out for their own benefit. These types of malicious attacks can lead to data theft or just general corruption of an existing system. Billions is spent each year on fixing the damage they do.
Some malware has managed to cause serious damage to computer systems worldwide. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most infamous cases in recent years.
One of the earlier viruses that got about was the Melissa virus, created by David L. Smith of New Jersey. The virus was a macro virus, and it managed to cause $1.1 billion of damages worldwide.
The virus mainly disrupted personal computers and networks in business and government. However, it was traced back to Smith through efforts of the FBI and New Jersey Police, who was then sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $5,000.
The “ILOVEYOU” virus was a computer worm that managed to attack tens of millions of Windows PC’s on the 5th May 2000. An email was sent around with the subject line “ILOVEYOU” and a shady looking attachment claiming to be a love letter.
Many people were intrigued and unfortunately opened the attachment. Once opened, a script fired and multiple random files were overwritten on the local area.
Once the worm was done messing everything up, it then sent itself to all contacts in the address book for Outlook, causing it to spread far.
Astonishingly, the two Filipino’s that created the malware were released with no charges pressed, since there were no laws set in the Philippines against what they’d done at the time.
A new law was introduced directly afterwards, to avoid anybody getting away with it again. The virus caused at least $7 billion damage wise, and $15 billion to have it removed for good. What a mess.
Mydoom was another email worm, and it still stands as the fastest spreading computer virus yet. It caused a whopping $38 billion in damages worldwide.
Nobody knows the creator of the virus, but it is thought to be a Russian. The worm contains the text message: “andy; I’m just doing my job, nothing personal, sorry,” suggested the creator was paid to do it.
Mydoom was first identified in January 2004, but various versions were still battled with until February 2005. It also more recently reappeared in July 2009, affecting South Korea and the USA.
Microsoft were so annoyed at one point that they offered $250,000 to anybody with information on the malware’s author that can lead to their arrest.
This worm is a fairly interesting one. It was specifically designed to only attack those that the creators were targeting. While it caused a stir world-wide, it was mainly prominent in Iran.
It’s thought that Stuxnet had been in development since 2005, and it was responsible for causing sufficient damage in Iran’s nuclear program.
No country has admitted responsibility for its actions, but it’s generally thought that it is an American-Israeli joint build, specifically designed to be used as a sort of cyberweapon.
You’ll have likely seen this in the news recently. WannaCry is a ransomware cryptoworm that has mainly affected Windows XP users. It was responsible for shutting down the UK’s NHS computers for a day.
Ransom ware encrypts itself on a computer and demands payment before it will give you your files back. There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get your data back after payment though.
The use of unsupported versions of Windows such as Windows XP is what made this virus spread like wildfire. Payments were also discouraged, since you’d be funding the creators to continue doing such things.
Always keep your virus up to date, and make sure you’re using a fully updated and supported Operating System.
Hackers and malware developers are clever people, and they have no mercy. Don’t be their next victim!