Has your computer even been attacked by a computer virus? Do you have malware detection and protection installed on your computer? Or like most people you write off computer viruses as minor discomfort and go ahead with the internet hopping with unabashed glee?
This blog may be just for you.
Remember this dialogue from the 1995 movie “Hackers”??
“You wanted to know who I am, Zero Cool? Well, let me explain the New World Order. Governments and corporations need people like you and me. We are Samurai… the Keyboard Cowboys… and all those other people out there who have no idea what’s going on are the cattle… Moooo.”
The movie came out more than two decades ago and somehow still holds true and in a creepy foreboding way told us what the future will be like.
But two decades ago was a happier time. Back then most people confused a computer virus with a biological virus and got scared that if they touch their crashing computer they may get what the computer has. Funny right?
Not so much because computer viruses, worms and trojans have only amplified over the last two decades and so has the damage they can inflict. And the common people are still the ignorant cattles who have no idea what hit them.
Now you may wonder, what’s all the fuss about, there can be small fraud or theft alright but how much damage can a virus cause?
Let’s walk you through.
What is a Computer Virus?
A computer virus is a malicious software or malware code/ program written to disrupt the systems, cause major operational issues and result in data loss and leakage. As soon as an unknown file is opened, the virus which is attached to the executable host file downloads on the system and as soon as the program is run the virus starts affecting the system.
Armed with that information let’s dive into the list.
- CryptoLocker – Say hello to the new kid on the block, ransomwares. As the name suggests this malware encrypts files until a ransom is paid to the hackers. So instead of protecting your kids from kidnappers by paying a ransom you are protecting your system and data by paying some faceless strangers. Clop ransomware is the latest and most dangerous that targets Windows users and now has evolved to target entire networks.
Special mention for the modus-operandi of the virus which blocks over 600 Windows processes and disables multiple Windows 10 applications, including Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essential. It means you are left with a zero chance of protecting your data.
- Cyborg – Another kind of ransomware which is sent as emails. The email instructs the readers to install urgent windows OS updates which actually are ransomwares and are called cyborgs.It encrypts all the files and demands a ransom to uncorrupt them again.
- ILOVEYOU – Let’s take a trip to the past, well this may read like something you would hope from you ex however pretty much like that illusion this virus too with an emotional appealing tagline was the most malicious and virulent virus created ever. The love bug arrived in the form of a love letter and brought a kiss of death for your system.
A little about the modus operandi of this virus. Back then windows were unable to display the actual extension of the file and the users clicked thinking it to be a plain text file. Once opened, the Visual Basic Script got activated and took over the local computer overwriting the files and making the computer unbootable. It didn’t stop there, it sent itself to the user’s entire mailing list spreading itself faster than any other email worm. 45 million PCs infected and total damage worth 10 billion dollars
- My Doom– On 26th July 2004, Google was shut down and users couldn’t search the web for the whole day and the chaos began in January 2004, when people started receiving mysterious emails that said, “I’m just doing my job, nothing personal, sorry.”
It worked in a similar fashion as the love bug discussed above, scraping email from the user’s list and roping in all the infected systems into a botnet and carrying out large scale DDoS attacks on large corporations. 39 Billion $ in total damage and the second version came with an additional power to block user’s access to 65 antivirus websites post infection and keep users from cleaning their systems. Still around so be skeptical of clicking on subject lines like subject lines like ‘hello’, ‘failed delivery notification’, or ‘click me baby, one more time, etc.
- WannaCry– Surely we are not wishing that upon you, it is yet another interesting name of a computer virus that started wreaking havoc in May 2017 and affected lakhs of computers in over 150 countries.
It works using the ExternalBlueexploit leaked by the National Security Agency (NSA). The attacker can transfer crafted packets to any device that accepts data from the public internet on port 55. Once infecting the system the virus multiplies itself and affects other unpatched devices without any human interaction needed. WannaCry computer virus really would make you cry because this crypto worm demanded a ransom of $300-400 in Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key.
- Zeus – What has a Greek God got to do with a computer virus. A lot it seems. Much like Zeu’s thunderbolt that strikes the enemy to ground, Zeus which is a Zbot is a crimeware kit that steals user’s sensitive data like bank details and initiates transfer of money to unknown accounts. Came into existence in 2007, it accounted for 44% of all malware attacks that took place in the next three years.
Delivered through phishing emails it infiltrates the system and then adds it to a network of infected systems referred to as Zeus botnet and launches DDoS attacks on other targets. It can also steal sensitive data from the system and share it with cybercriminals.
- Code Red – This worm targeted the Microsoft IIS web server and ate up a lot of system resources by multiplying itself rapidly. The White House had to switch its IP address to new to escape the virus and the world suffered a total damage of $2 Billion.
- Conficker– First came around in 2008 and infected 9 million computers worldwide. It used Windows OS to create a botnet and infect systems.
The worm changes account lockout policies, blocks Windows updates, and logs out user accounts. Eventually, the system becomes a botnet slave and scam money off the users.9 billion $ in damage and Microsoft had to come with a fix for it.
- Stuxnet – Created for cyberwarfare this joint venture by Israel Defense Force and American Government to alter Iran’s nuclear warfare. It targeted the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that are used to automate machine processes and destroyed one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.
Stuxnet spread across Microsoft Windows PCs and was also transmitted through USB drives. It takes over the PLC computer, updates its code and sends damage instructions to the PLC controlled equipment. It also sends false feedback to the central controller so that no one has a clue until the hardware starts self destruction. The first virus which could affect hardwares. Siemens figured out a method to contain it.
- Flashback– This trojan proved that even MACs are not safe, discovered in 2011, it tricked users into installing by posing as an installer of Adobe Flash.