Power can never be innocent and while nuclear power can be used for various beneficial purposes, we’ve seen the horrors it can cause in the past. Similarly, computer coding and programming can also be used for both good and bad purposes. Unfortunately, ‘the bad’ often becomes horrific beyond expectations and takes the entire world by surprise. Reader’s might already be familiar with the digital superweapon Stuxnet, that was used in military attack by US and Israel. This malevolent virus, later found its way into black market and has spawned a number of equally destructive cousins that have plagued the internet.
Since it’s 2016 and malware attacks have become far more prevalent than ever, it would be interesting for readers to know about some of the most destructive computer viruses ever.
This virus operates similar to Stuxnet as evident by its fondness for Siemens Industrial Control Systems. It uses MitM (Man in the middle) style attack pattern to gain entry inside the host system and severs user’s connection to the server. This involves replacing a DLL file with one with malicious code that allows it to take legitimate control over a system. But what Irongate lacks in complexity, it makes it up with its ability to affect sandboxed environments. This can very well be utilized to render all developmental and experimental data useless and essentially blow a company’s research and development department to smithereens.
First reported in 2008, Conficker worm has affected more than 15 million computers worldwide. It’s list of victims include government offices, corporations and users from over 190 countries across the globe. This virus is notorious for employing a vast number of malware techniques that make it extremely hard to detect and eliminate once it’s on your system. It can turn your computer into a zombie botnet that will be used to launch more phishing attacks. It also makes any anti-virus or anti-malware websites inaccessible so it becomes extremely difficult to find any online help.
The name that essentially coined the term ‘Ransomware’ CryptoLocker is one of the most malicious viruses floating across the internet. Once this virus enters your computer, it will launch itself in a termination-proof process and encrypts various files. The encryption is usually AES-256 that makes these files impossible to recover without the original decryption key. Since CryptoLocker is labeled as a Ransomware, it then asks the system owner to make a payment (usually in bitcoin) to recover their hijacked data. This is impossible to remove once it gets on your system and makes data essentially irrecoverable.
If there’s one thing that you hate the more than viruses, it is certainly slow internet speed. And when you make a program that can slow the internet down, you know there’s no refuge from this evil. Surfacing in early 2003, SQL Slammer is notorious for launching massive Denial-of-Service attacks. It typically sends bulk of fake service requests from untraceable locations, causing them to eventually overload and fry. This can pretty much render your internet connection useless and lockdown online databases from being accessed and a crawling internet connection that would make you pull your hair out. A horrid creation of a true evil genius!
Programmers and computer coders work their socks off to create new software and systems, used by millions of users worldwide. But there’re always two sides to a story as ‘Power Can Never Be Innocent’ (-Lex Luthor). Hence, it is essential that we must gather more and more knowledge about these looming digital monstrosities, and protect our internet privacy.