The history of computer viruses revolves around spyware, adware, worms and surplus variants of trojans. While new viruses emerge every so often, it’s easier to control them now. Unlike a decade or two ago when entire networks and systems were shut down by virus infiltration.
At present, secure operating systems, internet connections and programs can detect and remove malicious programs. Just take the example of Spectrum packages, how an internet provider is offering a full-fledged security suite to its subscribers.
But long before all such security measures were accumulated, the digital realm was vulnerable to phishing attacks, online threats and virus incursions. The history of computer viruses has remained notorious but some viruses are worth never forgetting.
The face behind the revolting Melissa Virus is David L. Smith. Melissa crept into systems in the form of link bait by breaking into email address books of its targets. Once they clicked on to the virus-ridden link, the virus outspread like wildfire and brought havoc on not only household levels but also infected commercial, private and government sectors. As Melissa was one of the initial computer worm forms, David’s notorious intentions led to massive damage of a whopping $80 million before the virus was contained.
Email worms were the quickest possible means to multiply computer viruses. Mydoom follows a similar scheme and stained email streams as it spread from one system to another. Mydoom was contagious to computer systems like a plague, hard to contain but quick to trigger. The virus crawled into operating systems, extracted email addresses, and continued to disperse through email recipients. Not only were peer-to-peer networks infected but Mydoom also activated shady search queries to search engines sent from all the systems it corrupted.
The real perpetrator behind Nimda remains unknown but in 2001, the virus was the cause of the distress of many. The Nimda worm was swift in pervading firewalls and once activated, it did damage to the internet server itself. It backdoored into a system and gained complete control of the target’s PC, in turn, tossing away security, spawning slow internet connectivity and crashing full-fledged networks.
The work of a German student, the Sasser virus was held responsible for inducing a streak of worms that wreaked malware havoc across the crannies of the internet. Sasser, however, wasn’t an email worm. Rather its approach was to directly attack operating systems, bypassing unsecure Windows and individually infect every vulnerable system it finds. It seems like sorcery if Sasser wasn’t triggered by email chains. So how did it infect other systems? By keeping track of randomly generating IP addresses, Sasser scanned each IP and proceeded to smear its next target.
The ILOVEYOU virus disguised itself as a digital love letter, which was sent to potential targets in a text file named ‘LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU’. Just like most computer worms, its infiltration medium was email. Once it infected a computer, the virus triggered the same text file to the target’s email address book. But ILOVEYOU did a lot more than replicating itself and penetrating emails. What’s worse, it copied files from the victim’s computer and hid them in a chain of sub-folders. Consequently, it was quite taxing for system owners to find files hidden in a pile of empty folders.
6. Storm Worm
A deadly virus masked as a weather update, Storm Worm, built on the trojan program was capable of inducing multiple malware attacks at once. Before the virus remained unidentified, its victims had their identities stolen, which were then misused on varied occasions. Storm Worm crept into systems through baited emails. In turn, compelling the user to click on the link bait, the worm infiltrated and zombified the infected operating system. However, as Storm Worm is a trojan variant, it can be easily controlled if the necessary virus detection measures are taken.
Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm, first uncovered in 2010, thought to have been in development since at least 2005. Stuxnet targets supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and is believed to be responsible for causing substantial damage to the nuclear program of Iran. Although neither country has openly admitted responsibility, the worm is widely understood to be a cyber weapon built jointly by the United States and Israel. There’s even a documentary movie about it (definitely worth the watch).
While many of the aforementioned viruses have been contained and trojan worms are now easily detectable, it’s still essential to keep your operating system secure with timely malware, spyware and ransomware detection scans.