The Top 3 Worst Computer Viruses in History

Computer viruses are damaging and costly to businesses. Statistics show that approximately 21% of companies in Canada were affected by cybersecurity incidents in 2017. Businesses also spent about $14 billion in preventing, detecting, and recovering from cybersecurity issues in the same year.

As the world becomes more internet-connected, new pieces of malware are discovered every day, with the cost of damage amounting to over $55 billion. While this figure accumulates from the damage caused by multiple malware, three computer viruses stand out as the most notorious.

1. ILOVEYOU – $10 Billion

The impact of the ILOVEYOU virus and the vulnerabilities it exposed can still be felt more than 20 years later. Tens of millions of computers were affected worldwide, and the damage that resulted amounted to close to $10 billion. So bad was the damage that the government and large corporations had to take their mailing systems offline for a while to prevent infection.

The virus emanated from Hong Kong, and at that time, the internet concept was still relatively new to the world. Statistics show that only about 28% of people in Hong Kong had access to the internet, 27% in the United Kingdom, 15% in France, and 43% in the United States, where technology was invented.

Spreading from Hong Kong, the virus brought down communication and destroyed file systems. Affected companies included investment banks, the Dow Jones newswire, and public relations firms. Two Filipino programmers, Onel de Guzman and Reonel Ramones were behind the creation of the virus.

Social Engineering at Work 

In this case, the hackers used a love confession. The email’s subject line was “ILOVEYOU,” and the message was “kindly check the attached LOVELETTER from me.” Recipients, thinking the email was a joke or declaration of love from someone, opened what seemed to be a text file. In reality, it contained an executable program. The virus quickly took control and replicated itself, spreading to many people. Within minutes, office email servers were clogged and destroyed victim’s hard drives, corrupting and deleting thousands of files.

At that time, there were no laws about malware, and the culprits were never charged. However, it was around this time that the E-Commerce Law was enacted to deal with the problem.

2. Mydoom- $38 Billion

Mydoom is probably the worst computer virus outbreak that ever happened. It took place in 2004, causing damages of approximately $38 billion. The inflation-adjusted cost translated to about $52.2 billion. The virus, also known as Novarg, is technically a worm that spreads through mass emailing. At one point during its attack, it was responsible for 25% of all the emails sent.

The damage involved the scraping of email addresses from the infected computers. It then replicated itself by sending copies to all the addresses it could find. Further, the virus roped the affected devices into a web of computers, resulting in what is known as a botnet. This enabled the attackers to propagate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The attacks would shut down the targeted websites or servers.

Mydoom is still a common virus today, working behind 1% of all phishing emails. Given that over 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent daily, it’s undeniable that the virus is a significant force that has a life of its own. The virus still infects poorly-protected machines by sending 1.2 billion copies of itself, 17 years after its creation.

3. Code Red- $2.4 billion

The financial costs of the Code Red virus are approximately $2.4 billion. It hit in 2001 and managed to penetrate about 975,000 hosts running Microsoft’s IIS web server. This corporate software program contained a security hole that cybersecurity experts had not addressed yet. The virus endangered global internet performance, warranting an FBI warning. Upon investigation, the virus was traced to a university in China. It had already infected over 300,000 computers before reaching the White House website.

Speculators had it that the hackers gave the Code Red name to the virus as a secret way to refer to China. However, reports from the U.S. said that the name was from an American soft drink. It is popular among computer programmers. China was on the front line of inquiry, as some infected machines displayed the words “Hacked by Chinese.” On the contrary, the wording could be a red herring to divert attention from the actual origin of the virus. According to a Chinese government spokesman, the country knew nothing about the worm.

Microsoft later released a patch to fix the security hole. It also joined the FBI to encourage users to ensure their systems are safe against Code Red.

Other viruses that have caused infinite damage over the years include:

  • Sobig- $30 billion
  • Klez- $19 billion
  • WannaCry- $4 billion
  • Zeus- $3 billion
  • CryptoLocker- $665 million
  • Melissa- $80 million

The financial impact of these viruses was enormous, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Companies are at risk of being attacked by the more than 127 million new malware apps that hackers create annually. As such, cybersecurity measures are of paramount importance for all business operations.

Protect Your Business from Virus Attacks

Computer viruses come in many forms today, including file infections, email viruses, Trojans, browser hijacks, adware, and macro viruses. They are unwelcome predators that put your business reputation at stake when they strike. They could also bring your business down, depending on the extent of the attack.

Since you never know when such an attack could happen, it’s crucial to take protective measures. Experts recommend keeping all your systems and applications updated all the time. This helps in patching security holes that give way to an attack. Put measures in place to monitor emails, use firewalls, install antivirus, anti-ransomware, and anti-malware software, and encrypt your files and folders. You also must create cybersecurity awareness among your employees and customers, educating them on the risks and warning signs.

Ensuring that you have comprehensive cybersecurity measures calls for professional input. Working with an IT service provider gives you better results than doing it all on your own. EB Solutions is one such company that customizes your IT solutions to meet your business needs. Contact us today, and let’s review your business IT systems and cybersecurity needs.

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