The internet is so much more than the novel means of communication that it was when it was first introduced a few decades ago. Today, almost all aspects of modern society are linked to the World Wide Web and, as a result, the risk of identity theft is greater now than ever before. Computer viruses, in particular, are costly threats that can cause mass damage – and recouping losses can come with a price tag in excess of tens of billions of dollars. Here is a look at three of the most widespread and expensive viruses in the history of the internet.
MYDOOM (2004) – This was a worm that affected the emails of more than 2 million PC users, costing individuals the world over a combined $38 billion dollars. It hacked into the Outlook address books of unsuspecting victims and spread the disease to their friends, family and colleagues.
SOBIG.F (2003) – Roughly the same number of PCs were affected by this self-replicating worm as MYDOOM a year later, but it was so large and unprecedented that it was actually able to bring down freight and computer traffic in Washington, D.C., as well as ground the entire Air Canada fleet.
I LOVE YOU (2000) – An email would appear in the inbox of a victim proclaiming “I love you” from a familiar address then immediately send itself to the first 50 contacts in a user’s mailbox, eventually spreading to 500,000 PCs and costing $15 billion in damages.
CODE RED (2001) – This worm targeted computers running on the Windows 2000 and Windows NT operating systems, and was able to temporarily take down whitehouse.gov and other government websites.
SLAMMER (2003) – It seems 2003 was a big year for computer viruses, as not only did SOBIG.F tarnish the internet for some users, but this worm made victims of Bank of America, 911 emergency responders, Continental Airlines and even a nuclear power plant.