A laptop, loaded with six of the world’s worst computer viruses, is currently up for auction, with the price to purchase already above $1 million USD.
The “artwork” is a creation by Guo O Dong, who calls the piece “The Persistence of Chaos.” The Verge spoke with Dong to gather information and context behind the piece; essentially, the artist wanted to capture these viruses in the laptop and chose them for the effects they’ve had in the past both digitally and physically. “We have this fantasy that things that happen in computers can’t actually affect us, but this is absurd,” Dong said to The Verge. “Weaponized viruses that affect power grids or public infrastructure can cause direct harm.”
The laptop is a 10.2-inch Samsung NC10-14GB from 2008 and contains six viruses on its local hard drive:
The ILOVEYOU virus, distributed via email and file sharing, affected 500,000+ systems and caused $15B in damages total, with $5.5B in damages being caused in the first week.
MyDoom, potentially commissioned by Russian e-mail spammers, was one of the fastest spreading worms. It’s projected that this virus caused $38B in damages.
SoBig was a worm and trojan that circulated through emails as viral spam. This piece of malware could copy files, email itself to others, and could damage computer software/hardware. This piece of malware caused $37B in damages and affected hundreds of thousands of PCs.
WannaCry was an extremely virulent ransomware cryptoworm that also set up backdoors on systems. The attack affected 200,000+ computers across 150 countries, and caused the NHS $100M in damages with further totals accumulating close to $4B.
A sophisticated and evasive piece of malware that targeted users mainly in Latin America, DarkTequila stole bank credentials and corporate data even while offline. DarkTequila costed millions in damages across many users.
BlackEnergy 2 uses sophisticated rootkit/process-injection techniques, robust encryption, and a modular architecture known as a “dropper”. BlackEnergy was used in a cyberattack that prompted a large-scale blackout in Ukraine in December 2015.
“WannaCry … caused the [UK’s National Health Service] the equivalent of $100 million in damages and led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of doctors’ appointments,” the artist said. “It is not a leap to say this caused significant human harm, though it might be hard to pinpoint the effects exactly down to the patient.” Dong also claims the total amount of damage caused by these viruses, housed inside the 11-year-old laptop, is more than $95 billion USD.
The “The Persistence of Chaos” laptop auction is currently at $1,200,079 USD and can be live streamed at the piece’s official website.