Every coin has two sides. The concept of Yin and Yang exists in every field. Thus, when the computers were invented, and especially after the internet came into existence, along with the priceless information it provided, some malicious minded people gave us the “other” side – the dreaded computer virus! Following are the most destructive virus recorded in history:
Destruction: More than 10 Million USD
Bagle is a mass mailing computer worm, affecting all the Microsoft based systems. It searches files on infected system with specified extensions (.htm, .wab, .txt or .html) for e-mail contacts and replicates by mailing itself out to those contacts as a message attachment (a random string of letters followed by .EXE). Bagle checks the current system date, and does nothing if the date is 28 January, 2004 or later.
Destruction: 80 Million USD
The CIH, which was first located in Taiwan, is a virus that infects Windows 95 and Windows 98 EXE files. After an infected EXE is executed, the virus will stay in memory and will infect other programs as they are accessed and overwrites most of the data on the computer’s hard drive. This virus also includes another unique feature that will attempt to overwrite the Flash BIOS chip of the machine. If the Virus is successful at doing this, the machine will be unable to boot at all unless the chip is reprogrammed. Another feature of this virus is the capability of not increasing the size of the EXE file that it infects. Thus it would go unnoticed unless detected by an antivirus software.
Destruction: 500 Million USD
Unlike most previous worms, Sasser was not transmitted via e-mail and required no user interaction to spread. Instead the worm exploited a security flaw in non-updated Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems. When successfully replicated, the worm would actively scan for other unprotected systems and transmit itself to them. Infected systems experienced repeated crashes and instability.
8. SQL Slammer
Destruction: 750 Million USD
This web server virus spread across the internet and attacked many unprepared computer networks, bringing down many important systems such as Bank Of America ATM service, Seattle had outages in 911 service, and Continental Airlines had to cancel flights because of ticketing and check-in errors.
Destruction: 1.2 Billion USD
Melissa was a new virus for a new age: the email age. Forget floppies, this one was among the first to spread via the dreaded email attachment. It also pioneered the art of breaking into your address book and sending itself to all your contacts. The virus would arrive via an innocent-looking email that told you to open a document… and why would you open a document from a stranger? You wouldn’t.
Remember the whole address book thing? So, when you got an email from, say, your boss, telling you “Here is that document you asked for,” there’s a pretty good chance you might open it. Whoops.
6. Code Red
Destruction: 2.6 Billion USD
The Code Red viruses were very, very sneaky worms. They didn’t require you to do anything to become infected (you didn’t need to open an attachment or download a file); all it took was an active Internet connection for the virus to take advantage of a flaw in the Windows operating system. And what did the viruses do? Well, for one, they turned your computer into a slave, letting someone offsite operate it remotely. That means they could steal what was on your computer or even use your computer to do some bad things…like, say, overloading the White House computers by telling all the infected computers to contact its address.
Destruction: 3.2 Billion USD
Blaster gets its most-often used name from the file that it drops in the Windows System folder, msblast.exe. The system will receive code that exploits a DCOM RPC vulnerability (described in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-026) from the Blaster worm on an already infected computer coming through TCP port 135. On Windows XP and Server 2003, this exploitation causes a system reboot. In Windows 2000 and NT 4.0, this causes the system to be unresponsive.
Destruction: 9.1 Billion USD
Conficker, also known as Downadup or Kido, is the latest super virus to spread around the Internet and has security experts in a panic. Conficker is very difficult to detect without running an up-to-date virus and malware scanner. It features a sophisticated method of cracking administrator passwords, making it difficult to remove, and also copies itself to USB drives so that it can spread even when the online flaw is plugged.
3. I Love You
Destruction: 15 Billion USD
The ILOVEYOU virus went for the heart, hoping you’d take a chance and open an attachment labeled as a love letter. Really? People fell for this? Yes. As many as 10 percent of all Internet-connected computers were infected at the virus’s peak in 2000. The virus spread through the email attachments, but it also replicated itself on a computer’s hard drive, directing the computer to download a password-stealing application from the Internet.
Destruction: 37 Billion USD
A standalone malicious program which uses computer or network resources to make complete copies of itself. May include code or other malware to damage both the system and the network.
Sobig is not a computer worm in the sense that it replicates by itself, but also a Trojan horse in that it masquerades as something other than malware. The Sobig worm will appear as an electronic mail with one of the following subjects:
- Re: Approved
- Re: Details
- Re: Re: My details
- Re: Thank you!
Destruction: 38 Billion USD
The MyDoom (or Novarg) virus is another worm that can create a backdoor in the victim computer’s operating system. The original MyDoom virus — there have been several variants — had two triggers. One trigger caused the virus to begin a denial of service (DoS) attack starting Feb. 1, 2004. The second trigger commanded the virus to stop distributing itself on Feb. 12, 2004. Even after the virus stopped spreading, the backdoors created during the initial infections remained active.
So these are the most destructive viruses recorded in computer history. Please put a comment below to highlight any missing viruses. This is not an exhaustive list, there are bound to be some missing links!