The deadliest computer viruses ever, disastrous and catastrophic for the entire digital world

I LOVE YOU - 'heart-breaker'
LoveLetter began appearing as a Valentine's-style message in e-mail inboxes all over the world in May 2000. The subject line was ILOVEYOU and the message read 'kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me.' Attached to the e-mail was a program which, when the recipient opened it, immediately forwarded the message on to everyone in their address book, gradually clogging the world's networks. LoveLetter was one of the largest 'mass mailers', and also used social engineering, the tactic of exploiting human nature, to devastating effect, in this case by pulling on the recipient's heartstrings. The estimated losses were about $ 8.7 billion and roughly ten percent of all the computers that were connected to the internet were affected.

Sql Slammer - 'fastest ever'
Sql slammer took advantage of a vulnerability in SQL Server, a piece of Microsoft software that many PC's use to access information stored on websites. Infected machines would in turn reach out to other computers via the internet and infect them, at extraordinary speed. Within 30 minutes of the virus appearing on January 25, 2003, it had infected 75,000 systems. The 'install base' of the virus is understood to have doubled in size every 8.5 seconds. The world's computer networks were suddenly flooded with enormous volumes of traffic, and many businesses were unable to stop their systems grinding to a halt.

Storm worm - 'one of the most prolific'
One of the most dynamic e-mailed based worms, which has had hundreds of variants since it first appeared in December 2006 and is still around today. The first version enticed recipients with the subject line 'New year's celebrations'. More recent e-mails containing the virus have purported to be about "Middle east tensions" or an "Earthquake in Beijing". Attached is a program, a link to a website or clip of a film, all of which can infect recipient's machine. Once installed, the virus can control the machine, meaning it can be forced to participate in spam or other scams as part of a giant network of zombie computers known as a botnet.

Netsky and Bagel - 'hacker wars'
Two more mass mailer viruses which surfaced in 2004 and were famous not only for their ability to infect machines but because of the battle that played out between their authors, 'Netsky' and 'Bagel'. Both wrote programs which were spread via e-mail and which, when opened, would allow the author to control the victim's machine remotely. Each was fiercely proud of his or her own virus, however, and enjoyed trying to disable his or her rival's. An epic 'hacker battle' ensued. 'Hey netsky f*** off you b****' was just one of many text messages Bagel included in the code of one of his viruses. 'Hey bagel, feel our revenge', Netsky replied.

Nimda - 'blended threat'
A dynamic virus which first appeared in October, 2004, and has baffled security experts with its multi-faceted approach to infecting the world's PC's. Sometimes it spread by e-mail, and was so cunning recipients did not even have to double click on an attachment for it to infect their computer, sometimes it embedded itself in web pages and attacked machines which visited them. It was the first virus to combine range of malware techniques and bundle them together, and at its peak, affected millions of PCs. 'Virtually every business' had instances of the virus on their systems at some point, according to one researcher. Nimda was considered to be one of the most complicated viruses, having 5 different methods of infecting computers systems and being able to duplicate itself.

Melissa Virus - 'office addicted'
It spread in 1999 through Microsoft Word 97 and Word 2000. It entered cyber-space using a stolen access authorization that had been issued by America Online, the giant internet provider, to a customer in Florida called Scott Steinmetz. The virus was able to access and delete critical Windows file by using a mass email process. The losses were estimated to be around $ 1 billion.

Code Red Virus - 'self replicable'
Appeared in the year 2001. The virus benefited from the overflow vulnerability in Microsoft IIS servers and replicated itself in other Microsoft computers. The overall losses were estimated to be around $ 2 billion.

MSBlast - 'self replicable'
This virus appeared in the year 2003. It affected over 25 million PC’s and losses were estimated to be about $ 10 billion.

Sobig - 'attachable'
Appeared in the year 2003. The virus entered the PC in the form of an email attachment which if executed would collect email id's and send messages to all of them. It literally flooded the internet with emails. When it all got over the losses were estimated to be $ 1 billion with more than 500.000 computers affected.

Jerusalem - 'first destructive'
Founded in 1987. This was one of the first MS-DOS viruses in history that caused enormous destructions, affecting many countries, universities and companies worldwide. On Friday 13, 1988 the computer virus managed to infect a number of institutions in Europe, America and the Middle East. The name was given to the virus after one of the first places that got 'acquainted' with is the Jerusalem University.

Morris - 'internet worm'
November 1988. This computer virus infected over 6.000 computer systems in the United States, including the famous NASA research Institute, which for some time remained completely paralyzed. Due to erratic code, the worm managed to send millions of copies of itself to different network computers, being able to entirely paralyze all network resources. The damages caused by the Morris computer virus were estimated at $96 millions. To be able to spread, the computer virus used errors in such operating systems as Unix for VAX and Sun Microsystems. The virus could also pick user passwords.

Solar Sunrise - 'government hack'
1998. Using a computer virus, hackers penetrated and took control of over 500 computer systems that belonged to the army, government and private sector of the United States. The whole situation was dubbed Solar Sunrise after the popular vulnerabilities in computers that run on the operating system called Sun Solaris. Initially it was believed that the attacks were planned by the operatives in Iraq. It was later revealed that the incidents represented the work of two American teenagers from California. After the attacks, the Defense Department took drastic actions to prevent future incidents of this kind.

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