What makes a computer virus particularly awful? The most obvious point is how destructive it is from a dollar perspective. But it doesn’t matter how destructive it is if it isn’t convincing enough to get people infected. We’ve compiled a list of the worst computer viruses ever created – taking into account the damage they did as well as how they did it.
New viruses are always being created so it’s impossible to have a complete list of everything that’s out there. However, learning about these viruses will help you recognize potential issues as you see them. After all, education is a very powerful cyber security tool.
3 Worst Computer Viruses You Need to Know About
CryptoLocker Trojan Horse
Gmail Phishing Scam
This 2002 virus is often tagged as the most virulent virus of all time. Damages were estimated at about $10 billion. It was believed that 10% of the world’s computers (on the Internet) were infected. Some governments took their email operations offline in order to avoid infection.
The virus appealed to our vanity. It was a love confession delivered via email. Who wouldn’t want to download that? The attachment was a script that masqueraded as a .TXT file (something that was possible at that point in Windows). Once it was clicked, it sent a copy of itself to everyone on the infected person’s mailing list. The computer became unbootable when it overwrote files on itself. The creators were never charged since there were no laws about malware at the time.
This is one of the most famous versions of ransomware because it was one of the first widespread examples of it. While trojans existed as early as 2005, technology has improved to allow the email attachments to look more convincing and be more in line with real emails.
It was first posted in September of 2013. Once it infected the computer through an email attachment, it quickly encrypted the computer’s files. Then it demanded payment from the user in order to receive the key to unlock the encryption. It is estimated that since its inception it has successfully extorted about $3 million out of its victims but that only figures in the amount of cases that have been reported. With ransomware, it is not uncommon for people to pay without notifying authorities. The severity of this trojan is high because without a backup, once encrypted, the files are lost unless you pay the cyber criminal.
Okay, so from a hardware standpoint this is not the most devastating computer virus ever. In fact, it won’t shut down your system or make it inoperable or require you to pay some exorbitant amount in bitcoins. What makes this latest phishing scam so terrible is the “intelligence” of it and how even very educated users are falling prey to it.
The email is usually disguised as someone from the person’s contact list. The email message often contains information that is in context. For instance, one victim received an email that looked like a PDF of a high school sport schedule they were expecting.
But the attachment is not a class picture or a sports schedule. It’s an embedded image that looks like a PDF. When you click on it, it takes you to a login page that is a deceiving replica of Gmail’s login. Once you’ve entered your username and password, it uses that information to access other login info as well as your email contacts and begins the whole process again with your contact list.
Since this phishing scam is fairly new, we don’t have estimates as to how many people have fallen victim. It’s exceptionally convincing and a very intelligent scam, but here’s how you can tell it’s not legitimate.
In all of these situations, the best thing you can do besides being hyper vigilant and suspicious is to have a reliable backup and apply all security patches as soon as they are available. If you need help with doing that for your business, consider a managed IT company like CIO Tech to handle it for you.