A few days ago, Internet artist Guo O Dong was auctioning a laptop. The laptop name called “The Persistence of Chaos”. Although the laptop is very old, the auction price is as high as 1.2 million US dollars, the entire laptop is completely sealed. Why is the price of this laptop auction so high? The reason is that this computer as a work of art has been installed with six of the world’s most dangerous viruses.
The deadly virus that has been installed include:
- WannaCry: in May 2017, this ransomware cryptoworm caused a worldwide attack that demanded ransom payments in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, affecting over 200,000 computers in over 150 countries.
- BlackEnergy: has been around since 2007. It first generated bots to execute distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that were distributed via email spam, but later evolved into dropping an infected DLL component directly to the local application data folder. This version of the malware was responsible for a massive blackout in Ukraine in December 2015.
- ILOVEYOU: first appeared in May 2000 and spread by sending an email to every single person in your contact list with the attachment ‘LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs.’ Opening the attachment would start a script that would overwrite random types of files, like Office files, image files, and audio files.
- Mydoom: started in January 2004 and is still the fastest-spreading email worm ever, even faster than ILOVEYOU. It mainly sent junk email through infected computers, but appeared as a transmission error.
- Sobig: is both a worm and trojan that first started infecting computers in August 2003 via email. It deactivated itself on September 10, 2003, and as of 2018 it’s the second fastest spreading worm. The perpetrator still has not been caught.
- DarkTequila: has been around since 2013, affecting computers primarily in Latin America. It steals bank credentials, corporate data, and personal information from computers and is transmitted through spear phishing and infected USB flash drives. It’s able to detect if it’s on a genuine computer versus a quarantined analysis environment.
“We have this fantasy that things that happen in computers can’t actually affect us, but this is absurd,” says Guo. “Weaponized viruses that affect power grids or public infrastructure can cause direct harm.”
Computer viruses can attack the power grid or other public infrastructure and cause great harm. Viruses have actually affected human life across computers. For example, the WannaCry virus caused the British National Health Service system to lose $100 million, and tens of thousands of doctors made appointments for patients who were canceled. Although it is difficult to determine exactly how much the attack will have on a sick person, it may directly cause serious human damage.
This virus-filled computer was created by Guo O Dong in cooperation with DEEPINSTINCT, a private network security company in the United States, and has been strictly isolated. Malware cannot be sold under US law, so the computer was auctioned for art or academic research with a starting price of $1,200,700.