Top 10 Worst PC Virus Outbreaks

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Computer virus is to a PC what cancer, asthma, paralysis and other dreadful diseases is to human body. Coined by the American computer scientist Frederick Cohen in 1983, virus is officially defined as “a program that can infect other programs by modifying them to include a possibly evolved copy of itself”. Nowadays we can find them in all flavors from menacing worms, malicious software to Trojan horses that can create a back door entry and steal important information. With the advent of time there have been many virus attacks in the recent past but only a few were at their destructive best causing mayhem. So we will take a look back and would list the top 10 PC virus outbreaks

10. Storm

This dreaded name Storm-worm brings back the memory of one of the most menacing virus attacks in the recent past. This Trojan-horse debuted in 2006 and spread across the internet world through the e-mails containing some eye-catchy headlines that read 230 dead as storm batters Europe. It cleverly tricked the users to click on it and get trapped as the worm disguised itself as everything that is possible from video, audio files to greeting cards. The main aim was to create a botent by which someone sitting in a remote place can access the infected computer for nefarious purposes and the virus succeeded in it.

9. Klez

Klez is a computer virus that refuses to die down and it is still persistent even after more than ten years when it first turned up. Klez came into existence in 2001 and it began infecting computers through email messages. The most common variant of Klez, Klez-H would work as follows first it would spoof email addresses by randomly picking one and then would install, copy itself and send it to every contact present in the infected system address book. Due to spoofing it puts a name from the contact in the “From” address making the tracking of the sender and infected computer both a very difficult task.

8. Nimda

Nimda is infamous for being the most malicious virus of its time, according to many reports the virus went from being nowhere to become the most common virus in 22 minutes. It got its name from the word ADMIN written in reverse and this worm spread with a fierceness never seen before. Nimda didn’t leave any method to target the user’s emails, server vulnerabilities, network shares and web sites it used everything that is present in the book. Its main aim was to slowdown the internet traffic by attacking the most used internet servers. It was released the days following the 9/11 attacks on September 18th forcing many to believe that this was a cyber attack, it didn’t live up to the hype but it did bring to a crawl the internet.

7. Melissa

The Melissa virus was written by a man named David L. Smith in the year 1999, mix the thrill of a stripper in a bar with the coding genius of a hacker and you will have the first successful email-aware virus that is considered as the most destructive of all time. When Smith wrote this to impress the stripper he met in Florida little did he knew about the havoc it would wreck. It tempts the user to open a document with a message like “Here is that document you asked for, don’t show it to anybody else”. When opened it would self replicate and would send itself to the top 50 contacts in the computer, this virus was the first that could spread without any action on the user’s part. The estimated damage was $80 million but Smith was later caught by the FBI and was fined $5000 and was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment.

6. Love Bug

If the year 1999 belonged to Melissa a year later that is 2000 belonged to a new digital menace ILoveYou that took its root in Philippines.  But unlike the Melissa this was ILoveYou came as a worm that had the ability to self-replicate itself and it was a standalone application. Like Melissa even this virus came from a known person and once opened the virus would delete the multimedia, files and would change the settings of the browser and would lead to a series of junk mails. The bug was transmitted with the subject line that read “ILoveYou” and an attached file Love-Letter-For-You.txt.vbs, this virus affected almost 10% of the internet users and the damage this bug caused is estimated to $5.5 billion.

5. Netsky and Sasser

A relatively new virus at that time the Netsky and Sasser are two different viruses that were written by a German teenager Sven Jaschan aged 17 and it was introduced to the world on 30th April 2004. The Sasser worm was a very effective virus that did not spread via the e-mail rather it scanned for other vulnerable IP’s in the network once it affected a host computer making the potential victims to download the virus and then altering the operating system making it difficult to shut the computer. But the Netsky used conventional methods and spread via the e-mail and computer networks and would spoofs email addresses. It resulted in DoS (denial of service) and would crash the system due to high traffic. The virus resulted in a loss of tens and millions of dollars but the most prominent damage was cancellation and delay of flights for Delta Airlines and shutdown of satellite communication for a few French news agencies.

4. Code Red

The Code Red worm popped up in the summer of 2001 and taking advantage of the flaws in the Windows 2000 and Windows NT computers the Code Red started attacking them once it was unleashed on July 13th. It sneaked into the Microsoft internet information server and infected more than 350000 computers. This virus caught the anti-virus expert’s off-guard because it was able to re-infect cleaned systems again. This worm could create a backdoor for the system making the host vulnerable for outside attacks and also initiated a DDoS (distributed denial of service) and brought down many websites. The Code Red virus amounted for a damage of approximately $2.6 billion but the most memorable of all was the way it brought down the Whitehouse web server whitehouse.gov.

3. SQL Slammer

In the year 2004 a malicious Web server virus hit the unprepared computer networks targeting the Microsoft SQL servers and bringing down several important systems. Also known as “Sapphire” this was the first file less PC worm that infected more than 75000 computers within 10 minutes of its introduction on 25th January. This virus mainly targeted the vulnerable IP addresses in the network and then discharging the worm to them initiating a classic DoS (denial of service). The virus doubled every minute and it impacted many institutions and altered their services like the ATM service of Bank of America and the 911 service of Seattle and other continental airline services. It caused losses that accounted to over $1 billion before anti-virus and anti-spywares got it. 

2. Conficker Virus

With a funny sounding name Conficker a new virus sneaked into the computers of the world in the March of 2009. This virus attacked the Windows based PC’s without any intervention of the humans and successfully affected over 15million PC’s using a patched Windows flaw. This virus is highly capable of creating a plethora of botnet army that could control the computers remotely and steal important financial data and other private details. Its complexity and mysterious nature made life miserable for security experts who called it “Super Bug” and “Super Worm”. This virus is hard to detect unless the PC is running an original version of anti-virus.

1. My Doom

My Doom the PC virus entered the malware world in 2004 and it took the beaten path i.e the already tried and true old method of first infecting a host PC then resends itself to the entire address log present in the PC. This worm creates a back door for the PC thus giving an easy access to files from outside. My Doom virus spread faster than any other virus in the history and it quickly infected more than a million PC’s initiating a DoS (denial of service) by flooding a target PC with multiple large scale requests. At the high point the virus was said to be present one in every twelve e-mails. The damage caused by this fastest spreading virus is estimated to be approximately $38 billion.

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