Top 12 Most F’d Up Computer Viruses of All Time

February 28, 2014 11:35 pmComments OffViews: 2238

How it feels to destroy a computer virus

As David L. Smith, the man responsible for releasing the Melissa virus, learned, even a seemingly innocuous computer virus can cause millions of dollars in damage. In most cases, the damage comes in the form of lost productivity caused by overloaded e-mail servers, but some viruses do massive damage to the files on the hard drives of the computers they attack as well.

Here are the twelve computer viruses that have caused the most damage so far: (Number 3 Was a Real PITA)

1. MyDoom

aka Norvarg, Mimail.R, Shimgapi, W32.MyDoom@mm

MyDoom

Mimicking an e-mail delivery failure notice, MyDoom sent e-mails that appeared to be from mailer-daemon. The e-mail contained an attachment, which unleashed the virus when opened. In addition to searching infected computers’ address books for e-mail addresses, the MyDoom virus infected the shared KaZaA folder, enabling it to spread through the popular file-sharing service. A second version also had the ability to search for e-mail addresses through Google and other search engines. It took the domain portion of the e-mail addresses found in the address book and used it as a query to search for more e-mail addresses. The virus slowed the entire Internet down by about 10%, with some sites slowing to about half their normal speed. It also left a backdoor on the affected computers, which allowed the hackers access.

Year: 2004
Type: Multiple vector worm
Place of Origin: Russia
Number of Computers Infected: More than 100,000
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $38 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

2. Sobig

Sobig

The Sobig worm read documents on the infected computers’ hard drives to find e-mail addresses, then sent a copy of itself to those addresses. The e-mails used a variety of short subject lines, such as “Re: Approved,” “Re: Details,” and “Thank You!” The attached file containing the virus also had a variety of different names, including application.pif, thank_you.pif, and wicked_scr.scr. There were several variants of this virus, starting with Sobig.A, but the most widespread was Sobig.F. Microsoft put up a $250,000 bounty for information leading to the author’s capture, but so far the perpetrator has not been identified.

Year: 2003
Type: Multi-vector worm
Place of Origin: Unknown
Number of Computers Infected: 500,000-1,000,000
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $1-37.1 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

3. Sasser

Sasser

The Sasser virus is a pain in the ass to get rid of. Computers infected with Sasser would shut themselves down and reboot continuously, with very little time between shutdowns, making it extremely difficult to remove. Sasser caused 130 branches of the Sampo bank in Finland to shut down temporarily and disrupted telecommunications services. It caused delays and cancellations at Delta Airlines and stranded 300,000 rail passengers in Australia.

Year: 2004
Type: Internet worm
Place of Origin: Waffensen, Lower Saxony, Germany
Number of Computers Infected: Millions
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $500 million – $18.1 billion
Author/Originator: Sven Jaschan
Sentence: 21 months suspended, 30 hours community service

4. ILOVEYOU Virus

aka Loveletter, Lovebug

ILOVEYOU Virus

The ILOVEYOU virus was one of the first to spread by e-mail. When unsuspecting users clicked on the attachment, it spread by infecting audio, image, and executable files on the infected computer. It also sent itself to the user’s e-mail contacts. Authorities suspected a college student, Onel A. de Guzman, of creating the virus. However, there were no anti-virus laws on the books in the Philippines at the time. Officials filed charges of theft and violation of a credit card fraud law, but they had to drop the charges for lack of evidence.

Year: 2000
Type: Mass-mailer worm
Place of Origin: Makati, Philippines
Number of Computers Infected: 500,000
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $5.5-15 billion
Author/Originator: Onel A. de Guzman suspected

5. Blaster

Blaster

The Blaster virus exploited a security hole in Windows that had been recently announced by Microsoft. Apparently, the author of the virus wanted to send Bill Gates a message. The following text was inserted into the virus’s code: “Billy Gates, why do you make this possible? Stop making money, and fix your software!” Although the author of the original Blaster virus is still unknown, the copycat who released Blaster-B, Jeffrey Lee Parson, was sentenced to 18 months in prison plus 100 hours of community service.

Year: 2003
Type: Internet worm
Place of Origin: Unknown
Number of Computers Infected: Hundreds of thousands
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $2-10 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

6. Conficker

aka Downup, Downadup, Kido

Conficker

The Conficker virus created a lot of havoc in the UK. The French Navy’s computer network has to be quarantined, which resulted in several grounded flights. Other organizations impacted included the Manchester City Council, the Bundeswehr (German armed forces), and the House of Commons. The virus even affected Royal Navy warships and submarines.

Year: 2008
Type: Internet worm
Place of Origin: Possibly Ukraine or China
Number of Computers Infected: 9-15 million
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $9.1 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

7. SirCam

SirCam

Sircam infected files on the affected computers and distributed them to the e-mail addresses in the host’s contact list. The files that were sent were usually Word or Excel files, often containing the victim’s personal information. In addition to spreading via e-mail, SirCam modified the registry in such a way that all executable files would run from the virus file. Because of this, if the virus was removed without editing the registry to fix this, no programs would run on the computer.

Year: 2001
Type: Mass-mailer worm
Place of Origin: Mexico
Number of Computers Infected: At least 100,000
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $1-3 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

8. Code Red

aka Bady

Code Red

Code Red is another virus that exploits a weakness in Microsoft’s software, this time targeting the IIS Web Server software. The virus would display the message “Welcome to http://www.worm.com! Hacked by Chinese!” on the websites handled by the infected software, then use the server to find other computers running the same software.

Year: 2001
Type: Internet worm
Place of Origin: China
Number of Computers Infected: 1 million
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $2-2.75 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

9. SQL Slammer

SQL Slammer

This worm doesn’t exist on the infected computers’ hard drives. It runs from memory, which means that it leaves no trace and is wiped out completely by a simple reboot. Still, it took just 15 minutes for the SQL Slammer worm to spread throughout the world. The damage inflicted by SQL Slammer included delayed and cancelled flights, unusable bank ATM machines, and loss of Internet access in South Korea and Portugal. The emergency 911 network was knocked out of service temporarily as a result of the virus.

Year: 2003
Type: Internet worm
Place of Origin: Unknown
Number of Computers Infected: 350,000-500,000
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $750 million-$1.2 billion
Author/Originator: Unknown

10. Melissa Virus

Melissa virus

The Melissa virus sent out e-mails with the message, “Here is that document you asked for … don’t show anyone else.” A Word document containing the virus was attached to the e-mail. The virus deleted critical Windows files in the affected computers and inserted random quotes from the Simpsons into files on the infected computers’ hard drives.

Year: 1999
Type: Word macro virus
Place of Origin: Aberdeen, New Jersey, USA
Number of Computers Infected:
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $80 million – $1.2 billion
Author/Originator: David L. Smith
Sentence: 20 months in prison, 3 years supervised release, 100 hours community service, and a $5,000 fine. Smith was also prohibited from being involved with the Internet, Internet bulletin boards, or computer networks without the court’s permission.

11. Nimda

Nimda virus

The Nimda virus is spread through an e-mail attachment named README.EXE. It usually comes in an e-mail that has no subject or text. The virus can also be contracted by visiting an infected website, in which case, a readme.eml file will be downloaded onto the target computer. Nimda can also be spread through flash drives. The virus infects files, copies itself into multiple folders on the infected computers, and adds a guest account that requires no password. It turns the hard drives it infects into shared network drives.

Year: 2001
Type: Multi-vector worm
Place of Origin: China
Number of Computers Infected: 160,000
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $635 million
Author/Originator: Unknown

12. CIH Virus

aka Chernobyl Virus

CIH Chernobyl virus

The CIH virus infects every executable file that is accessed on the infected computer. The virus hides itself by writing its code into empty spaces in the files. The virus has a payload that is delivered each year on the author’s birthday, April 26th. On this day, the virus attempts to overwrite the entire hard drive of the affected computer with random data. It may not be possible to recover the files that have been overwritten.

Year: 1998
Type: File virus
Place of Origin: Taipei, Taiwan
Number of Computers Infected: More than 1 million
Estimated Cost of Destruction: $20-250 million
Author/Originator: Chen Ing-Hau
Sentence: Chen was arrested twice, but it doesn’t appear that the case ever made it to trial.

The Damage Can Be Devastating

Adding it up, that’s more than $135 billion in damage from just twelve viruses. Between crashing websites and e-mail servers and destroying computer software, viruses can create a lot of problems for both individuals and corporations. When you look at these numbers, it’s easy to see why it’s so important to have the most up-to-date virus protection installed on all of your computers and other Internet-connected devices.

About the Author

RobSanchezRob Sanchez is the Executive Producer and Hosting Evangelist for Hosting Reviews.com. Rob has over 10 years experience producing websites, tools and technologies for the Internet. He has a passion for writing creative editorial and enjoys educating his visitors on the various hosting providers & internet technologies. In addition, it’s his mission to always educate parents, kids and other professionals about the dangers lurking online. While he’s not working he enjoys spending time with his two kids, surfing and sweating in a daily hot Yoga class.

Sources:

  • http://articles.yuikee.com.hk/published/imis/200205_melissaETO.html
  • http://computer.howstuffworks.com/worst-computer-viruses5.htm
  • http://computer.howstuffworks.com/worst-computer-viruses5.htm#page=6
  • http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/press-releases/2002/melissaSent.htm
  • http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5518331/#.UxDhFvlYM5g
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/22/business/technology-philippines-to-drop-charges-on-e-mail-virus.html?ref=oneldeguzman
  • http://www.pcworld.com/article/114461/article.html
  • http://www.zdnet.com/blog/security/confickers-estimated-economic-cost-9-1-billion/3207