The world of computers is ever-changing, and with that comes new dangers. Here are some of the computer viruses that made history and you probably don’t know.
Hi, I’m StackZero, in this article I want to list some interesting viruses that didn’t make big damage, but they were still important in their own way.
What is a virus?
A virus is a malicious software code that is written intentionally to enter a computer without user permission and perform malicious activities.
It has the peculiarity of attaching itself to another file and spreading as much as possible on the contrary of a worm that can exist on its own.
We can distinguish two broad categories of viruses:
- Macro viruses
- File viruses
Macro viruses are written in macro languages and are embedded in documents. These viruses are spread through email attachments and infected documents.
File viruses are written in programming languages and are embedded in executable files such as .exe. These viruses are spread through infected programs and programs downloaded from untrusted websites.
They always need to execute code, but sometimes don’t have permission, so they take advantage of techniques like code injection to execute code and hide.
Just out of curiosity, when the Internet was not as widespread as it is today, storage media (such as floppy disks) were often left unattended containing viruses.
These were often opened by an unsuspecting victim (research shows that between 45% and 98% of those who found them inserted the removable media into a computer)!
The 7 most famous viruses and their history
Anna Kournikova virus was a computer virus that was released in 2001. It was spread via email, and its primary method of infecting computers was by users opening an email attachment containing the virus. The virus caused no damage to the computers it infected, but it did cause the recipient’s email address to be sent to all of their contacts, causing it to spread quickly.
Shamoon is a destructive computer virus believed to have been created by Iranian hackers and used to target Saudi Arabian organizations in 2012. It is capable of overwriting the contents of a computer’s hard drives and rendering them unusable. It also spreads through shared networks, infecting other computers. The damage was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars because it was used in many different attacks.
The Michelangelo virus is a computer virus that was discovered in February 1992, a variant of the academic virus Stoned.
It was one of the first viruses to gain widespread notoriety and caused significant damage to computers worldwide.
The virus was designed to activate on March 6, which was the anniversary of Michelangelo’s birthday, and would overwrite the first sectors of a hard drive, rendering it unusable. The suggestion from the experts at that time was to set the data in a way to skip March 6! It causes a lot of panic, but the real damages were very limited.
Concept virus was a macro virus in two parts which were active from 1995 to 1997.
It infected Microsoft Word documents and was able to spread via e-mail and diskettes. It was one of the first macro viruses to be written in Microsoft Word Basic and is considered the grandfather of all macro viruses. Its damages were mainly cosmetic, and it usually caused documents to be distorted in some way.
Simile is a metamorphic computer virus written in assembly and released in March 2002.
It does the following operations on the target system:
- Catches the day of the year, the month, and the year and stores them in variables.
- Then checks if the date is on the 17th of March, June, September, or December and if yes it displays a message changing randomly the case of the text letters, depending on its version.
- If the system language is Hebrew the virus displays a message, “Free Palestine!” on May 14.
Cybersecurity is interesting in every way, and I hope I have shown you that you do not need to limit yourself to the study of what causes the most harm to appreciate it.
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