What are the craziest computer viruses
The first PC virus, Brain, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The boot sector virus first appeared on January 19, 1986. From the first amateur hackers in the 1980s to today, when international cyber sabotage has long been a reality, computer viruses have terrifyingly demonstrated the destructive potential of human ingenuity.
In our review of the history of the PC virus, we will show you - in cooperation with the security experts from F-Secure - on the basis of significant and sensational incidents how computer viruses have developed over the past 30 years. If you are also interested in the latest articles on security, we recommend visiting the F-Secure blog.
- 1986: Brain
More than a decade before Napster was known to anyone, the first computer virus was created - to fight software piracy. The author who started the word "cyber" was William Gibson - called "Brain". Basit and Amjad Alvi developed and marketed medical software in Lahore, Pakistan. They were interested in two things. First they wanted to test the multitasking functionality of the new DOS operating systems (so-called "TSR" systems). Second, they wanted to see if there were any security flaws in DOS compared to other operating systems like Unix.
When they noticed that DOS was quite vulnerable, they had the idea of writing a piece of software that would monitor how the software and floppy disks move. Brain went viral on 3.25-inch floppy disks and within a few weeks the Alvis had to change their phone numbers. That was of little use to you, however, because 25 years after the development of the first PC virus, Mikko Hypponen from F-Secure set off on a trip to Lahore in the spring of 2011. His goal: the address that could be found in the code. In fact, he found the Alvi brothers there and had the opportunity to conduct the first video interview with them about Brain.
- 1987: Stoned
Created by a high school student in New Zealand, stoned was initially considered harmless. At first he only made himself noticeable with the message "Your PC is now Stoned". But as the first virus to infect the boot sector of a PC, Stoned showed that viruses can control the functioning of a computer - from the moment it is switched on. Bob Dylan would have been proud.
- 1990: form
Form became one of the most common viruses ever. On the 18th of each month, he made a clicking sound from the PC speakers - every time a key was pressed. That was quite annoying, but harmless.
- 1992: Michelangelo
Michelangelo was used to overwrite all data on a hard drive on certain dates. As a variant of Stoned - only significantly more malicious - Michelangelo was arguably the first computer virus to make it into the news internationally.
- 1992: VCL
The Virus Creation Laboratory (VCL) made it easy to create a malicious little program by automating virus creation through a simple graphical interface.
- 1993: Monkey
Monkey - also a distant relative of Stoned - secretly integrated itself into files and then spread seamlessly. This made Monkey an early ancestor of the rootkit: a self-concealing program that could prevent the boot process from being carried out using a floppy disk. If not removed correctly, Monkey would prevent any kind of booting.
- 1995: Concept
As the first virus to infect Microsoft Word files, Concept became one of the most common types of computer malware. Eventually it was able to infect any operating system Word could run. Oh yes and: if the file was shared, the virus was also shared.
- 1999: Happy99
Happy99 was the first email virus. He greeted users with the words "Happy New Year 1999" and spread the good news by email to all contacts in the address book. Like the early PC viruses, Happy99 did no real harm, but still managed to spread to millions of PCs around the world.
- 1999: Melissa
Allegedly named after an exotic dancer, Melissa was a combination of a classic virus and an email virus. He (or she) infected a Word file, then emailed himself to all contacts in the address book and thus became the first virus that spread worldwide within a few hours.
Melissa combined the "fun motive" of the early virus authors with the destructive power of the new era: The virus integrated comments from "The Simpsons" into user documents, among other things, but could also send confidential information without those affected noticing. Not long after Melissa, macro viruses were virtually eliminated when Microsoft changed the way the Visual Basic macro language worked in Office applications.
- 2000: Loveletter
This loveletter broke millions of hearts and is still considered one of the greatest breakouts of all time. Loveletter spread via email attachments and overwritten many important files on infected PCs. At the same time, it is one of the most successful social engineering attacks ever. Millions of Internet users fell victim to the promise of great love and opened the infected e-mail attachment. The estimated total worldwide damage was estimated at $ 5.5 billion.
- 2001: Code Red
The first worm to spread within minutes without any user interaction was called Code Red. It carried out various actions in a monthly cycle: it spread on days one to 19 - on days 20 to 27 it started denial-of- Service attacks on various websites - for example those of the White House. From day 28 to the end of the month, Code Red siesta was also the order of the day.
- 2003: Slammer
With just a few lines of code and a vulnerability, network worms can cause serious problems. Slammer thus crashed the Bank of America's ATM network and emergency services in Seattle. Even the air traffic control system wasn't immune to the agile villain.
- 2003: Fizzer
Fizzer was the first virus specifically designed to make money. It found its way onto the victim's computer in the form of an infected email attachment. When the file was opened, Fizzer took over the computer and used it to send spam.
- 2003: Cabir
Cabir was the first cell phone virus in IT history and targeted Nokia phones with Symbian OS. Cabir was distributed via Bluetooth and proved that technological advancement alone is not an effective means against hackers and cyber criminals.
- 2003: SDBot
SDBot was a Trojan horse that bypassed standard PC security measures to stealthily take control. He created a backdoor that enabled the author, among other things, to spy out passwords and registration codes for games such as "Half-Life" and "Need for Speed 2".
- 2003: Sobig
Sobig was an optimization by Fizzer. The peculiarity: some versions initially waited a few days after a computer was infected before the affected computers were used as e-mail proxy servers. The result? A massive spam attack. AOL alone had to intercept more than 20 million infected messages per day.
- 2004: Sasser
Sasser gained access to the system via endangered network ports, slowed it down dramatically or crashed entire networks - from Australia to Hong Kong to Great Britain.
- 2005: Haxdoor
Haxdoor was another trojan that sniffed for passwords and other private information. Later variants also had rootkit capabilities. Compared to previous viruses, Haxdoor used far more complex methods to disguise its existence on the system. A modern rootkit can turn a computer into a zombie computer that can be controlled without the knowledge of the user - possibly for years.
- 2005: Sony DRM Rootkit
In 2005 one of the largest record companies in the world had the same idea that the Alvi brothers had in 1986: a virus should prevent piracy. The affected audio CDs contained not only music player software, but also a rootkit. This controlled how the owner accesses the audio tracks on the disc. The result: a media shit storm and a class action lawsuit. Sony was only able to fight off the latter out of court through generous settlement payments and free downloads.
- 2007: Storm Worm
According to Machiavelli, it is better to be feared than loved. Seven years after Loveletter, the pest Storm Worm took advantage of our collective fear of freak weather. To do this, he used an email with the subject line "230 dead from storms in Europe". As soon as the attachment was opened, a Trojan backdoor and a rootkit forced the affected computer to join a botnet. Botnets are armies of zombie computers that can be used to spread tons of spam, among other things. Storm Worm hijacked ten million computers.
- 2008: Mebroot
Mebroot was a rootkit that was specifically designed to outsmart the emerging rootkit detectors. The malware was so advanced that it sent a diagnostic report to the virus writer as soon as it crashed a PC.
- 2008: Conficker
Conficker quickly spread to millions of computers around the world. He made use of vulnerabilities in Windows as well as weak passwords. Combined with some advanced techniques, Conficker was able to install more malware. One - particularly nasty - consequence: the virus prevented users from visiting the websites of most security software providers. More than two years after Conficker was first sighted, more computers were still infected every day.
- 2010: 3D Anti Terrorist
This "trojanized" game targeted Windows phones and was distributed through freeware websites. Once installed, the Trojan started calls to particularly expensive special numbers and gave users extremely hefty bills. This strategy for apps is still new - but it will probably develop into one of the most common methods that hackers and cybercriminals will use to attack mobile devices in the future.
- 2010: Stuxnet
As we have already seen, computer viruses have had an impact on the real world for decades - but in 2010 a virus also changed the course of history: Stuxnet. As an unusually large Windows worm (Stuxnet is more than 1000 percent larger than the typical computer worm), Stuxnet likely spread via USB devices. The worm infected a system, hid itself with a rootkit and then recognized whether the infected computer was connecting to the Siemens Simatic automation system. When Stuxnet found a connection, it changed the commands that the Windows computer sends to the PLC / PLC-programmable logic controller - i.e. the boxes for controlling the machines.
It runs on PLC / PLC he is looking for a specific factory environment. If this is not found, Stuxnet remains inactive. According to F-Secure Labs' estimates, implementing Stuxnet took more than ten man-years of work. After all, this shows that a virus that can obviously manipulate a centrifuge to enrich uranium cannot be created by anyone in the blink of an eye. The complexity of Stuxnet and the fact that the use of this virus was not based on financial interests suggests that Stuxnet was developed on behalf of a government.
30 years after Brain: Security-Status-Quo
In 2016, a PC with an updated version of Windows 7 or Windows 10 is considered very secure - especially if it is running constantly updated security software. With today's knowledge about computer viruses, these can be better combated - and ideally prevented from the outset.
However, hackers and cyber criminals never tire of new attack vectors
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