Worst Computer Viruses of All Time
Computer viruses have been around since the Apple II was first infected back in 1982 by the Elk Cloner (be prepared for more odd names!). Since then, computer viruses have refused to go away, some may say that they have continued to get worse.
To help you accurately judge the current health of the internet, we’ll look at the Ten Worst Computer Viruses of all time so that you have a true basis for comparison.
1. The Jerusalem Virus: In the beginning…
I’m going way old school to begin so that you can see that computer viruses are not a new thing. The Jerusalem virus, for example, is from October of 1987. It mainly infected computers and executed every executable file runs in DOS. Dozens of variations were built on this virus, resulting in computer headaches of a wide variety.
It would execute these actions every Friday the 13th, except in 1987. Weird, eh? It was named the Jerusalem virus because it was determined to be from Jerusalem, Israel.
2. Melissa attacks through Microsoft Word
The first computer virus that really alerted the general public to this problem of computers being infected through the internet was known as Melissa (the link leads to an old school website, one of the first ‘computer problems as celebrity’ like the Heartbleed bug) back in 1999. How it worked was by enticing people to open it with a simple “Here is the document you asked for, don’t show it to anybody else” statement.
Once opened, the virus sent itself out to the top 50 people on the recipients email list. The ensuing mass of emailing caused widespread havoc amongst web servers in the private and government sectors.
The creator of the virus wound up with a $5000 fine, 20 months in jail, and no access to computer networks without authorization from the court.
3. Nimda spells it backwards
Nimda has one ‘proud’ accomplishment: it was the fastest spreading virus of the time, taking only 22 minutes from launch to reach the top of the reported attacks list.
Nimda travelled through a number of ways with the goal of bringing internet speed down to zero. A number of network systems crashed, making Nimda one of the worst DDoS attacks ever.
4. MyDoom…spells doom for web users
MyDoom was a two stage worm. The first stage caused the infected computer to start a DoS attack on Feb. 2, 2004. The second stage shut down the attack on Feb. 12, 2004. It would send searches through a victim’s computer, and also send searches through search engines, causing even Google to slow down considerably.
The long lasting effect of MyDoom was that infected computers were also open to backdoor attacks.
5. ILOVEYOU enough to give you a worm
The ILOVEYOU worm came from the Philippines in 2000. It appeared in your email posing as a message from a ‘secret admirer.’ It caused the following problems:
- Several copies of it were made and hidden in folders all over the victim’s hard drive.
- Some of these replicas replaced files originally on the hard drive.
- Registry keys were added to.
- The worm sent itself out over email and Internet Relay Chat clients.
- It stole password by downloading a file from the internet onto the victim’s computer which emailed this data back to the hacker.
No one was ever charged for this crime which caused an estimated $10 billion in damages.
6. The Klez Virus: One of many faces
The Klez virus was a number of problems all rolled into one. It was a worm that infected computer’s through email, a Trojan horse, a fake virus-scanning software program, and an email spoofer.
The virus changed a number of times due to hackers altering it over time. A good anti-virus could stop it, but holy cow did it ever get around and do some damage back in late 2001.
7. Code Red comes in through the backdoor
The original Code Red worm initiated a DDoS attack on the White House’s servers. Every computer that was infected by Code Red sent an email to the White House at the same time, completely overwhelming their servers.
Code Red II was a worm from around mid-2001. IT created a backdoor entry into the victim’s computer which allowed someone to remotely control it. The computer would no longer follow the commands of the owner, correction, former owner!
8. Sapphire/SQL Slammer: Wrecks ATMs, airlines and 911 calls
This is the virus which is ‘famous’ for shutting down the Bank of America’s ATM service, Continental Airline’s e-ticketing service, and giving the city of Seattle an outage amongst the 911 service – causing some $1 billion in damages.
The Sapphire/SQL Slammer virus took just 15 minutes to infect over half of the biggest servers on the internet, and doubled its victim number every few seconds.
9. Sasser and Netsky: A whole new virus
Sasser and Netsky were two similar viruses that were designed by one many who, well, why name him? The Sasser worm itself didn’t travel through email, like so many others, it instead scanned random IP addresses and instructed vulnerable systems to download it. The result was a computer that was difficult to shut down with unplugging it at the power source.
The Netsky virus moved through email and spoofed email addresses. The spread caused DoS attacks as it sent 22,016-byte file attachments that seriously clogged up internet traffic.
10. Storm Worm: I call you Stormy today
The Storm Worm was so named as one of the messages that spread it through email had the subject heading “230 dead as storm batters Europe.” This Trojan horse was used by some hackers to spread spam mail over the internet as infected computers were taken over.
Protecting yourself from Storm Worm was as simple as not opening and clicking on the link contained within as the link contained the command to download the file. Actually, come to think of it, most of these viruses would have went nowhere at all if people would just distrust strange emails a little more!