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Top 10 Computer Viruses



10. Creeper : First developed in 1971, Creeper might well be the first computer virus. It infected PDP-11 computers connected to ARPANET. Once infected, the computer would display the message, “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!” Self-replicating but not too dangerous, Creeper opened the door into malware programming.

9. ElkCloner : Written in 1982 by a high school student, Elk Cloner attacked Apple II computers via floppy disk. On every 50th boot, the virus would cause the computer to display a poem written by the hacker.

8. The Morris Worm : Robert Morris wrote the Morris Worm in 1988 while still a graduate student at Cornell. Considered the first ‘worm’, it eventually lead to Morris becoming the first person convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

7. ILOVEYOU : The original email virus, ILOVEYOU caused “massive estimated financial damage, with millions of computers infected,” according to Golden Richard III. The email masqueraded as a love letter from a contact in a user’s email address book, and prompted the user to open an attachment containing the virus. Beginning on March 4th, 2000, the virus infected over 50 million computers in only nine days, and caused the CIA and the Pentagon to shut down their computers.

6. Code Red : This worm first broke out in July, 2001, infecting as many as 360,000 computers in a single day. According to Richard III, the infection proved so hard to stop because the worm would continually re-infect the same computer it had been cleaned from. The worm attacked Microsoft IS servers, and caused massive denial of service problems as it ate up computing resources and IT personnel time.

5. NIMDA : NIMDA was a rare combination of a worm, a virus and a Trojan horse. “NIMDA, that was a nasty one,” said Richard III. “That was a Windows virus that had a lot of different methods of infection. It used email, web server exploits, all kinds of different stuff. 2001 was a great year for viruses.” Nimda’s various distribution tactics allowed it to become the world’s most widespread virus less than an hour after it was released into the wild.

4. Slammer : Slammer first hit the Internet at 5:30 AM, GMT on January 25, 2003. Ten minutes later, 75,000 computers were infected with the worm. The genius of the worm’s design related to its size, as, at only a few hundred bytes long, the whole program fit within a single UDP packet.

3. The Blaster : The Blaster was not a particularly dangerous worm, due to a programming error, but it received a lot of media attention nonetheless. The worm exploited a hole in Windows XP programming, and, within its code, contained a specific attack on Bill Gates that read “billy gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!!”

2. Welchia : Welchia remains one of the most unusual worms in history, as it was designed to help instead of hurt. A response to the Blaster worm, Welchia infected computers, cleared out the Blaster infestation, and then deleted itself.

1. Commwarrior-A : Commwarrior-A hit in the summer of 2005, and it struck in an unsuspecting place: cell phones. The first ever cell phone virus, Commwarrior-A spread through text messages, but only infected 60 cell phones. Despite the small number of infected devices, security experts see Commwarrior-A as the beginning of a new kind of virus, and worry that the spread of smart phones means Commwarrior-A was merely the first in what will become a long line of phone targeting malware.