Technology makes so much of our lives easier and more convenient. Unfortunately, they also make us vulnerable to attack from people who hope to gain access to private information, or simply to wreak havoc. Computer viruses are self-replicating and can quickly spread like wildfire through the computers of the world. What’s worse is that they are continuously becoming more destructive and harder to protect against or eradicate.
7 of the most famous and destructive computer viruses in history
- Nimda – simply admin spelled backward and became the widest spread Internet worm in just 22 minutes after its release in September of 2001. The virus targeted admin accounts of server and client operating systems. The virus infected through network shares, email, IIS vulnerabilities, compromised websites and openings left by Code Red.
- Code Red – released in July of 2001, Code Red infected nearly 360,000 computers. The virus hijacked websites and displayed a message to visitors that said “hello! Welcome to http//www.worm.com! Hacked by Chinese!” This virus was followed by a similar worm called Code Red II later the same year.
- Mydoom – first made the scene in January of 2004 and is known by many different names. This powerful virus was so damaging that the SCO group advertised a $250,000 reward for any information leading to its creators arrest. A similar worm, Mydoom.B, prompted Microsoft to offer the same reward.
- Melissa – This mass-mailer virus attacked MS Word and first showed up in March of 1999. The virus sent infected emails to all contacts in a victims contact list in Outlook. The virus creator, David L. Smith, was sentenced to 20 months in prison and had to pay a $5,000 fine.
- Sasser – caused infected systems to crash or restart due to a buffer overflow vulnerability. It was first seen in April of 2004 and spread through TCP network port 445. German computer science student, Sven Jaschan, created the virus and released it on his 18th birthday. Microsoft offered a $250,000 reward for the virus creator. When caught, he was sentenced to a 21 month suspended sentence because he was tried as a minor.
- Blaster – another worm released in August of 2003. It issues a shutdown warning to computer users and spread rapidly. A variant of Blaster was written by Jeffery Lee Parson, who was arrested and prosecuted.
- ILOVEYOU – also called Love Letter, this worm made its appearance in May 2000 in the Philippines. The virus sent emails with ILOVEYOU as the subject and a LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt attachment. The virus affected tens of millions of computers around the world and caused over $5.5 billion in damages.