Monday, 20 Apr, 2015 Offbeat

Strange Illustrations of the Most Dangerous Computer Viruses in History


Despite the fact that everyone knows about the harm computer viruses can cause, today myriads of users become victim of malware without even noticing it.

However, there is a particular category of viruses that let you instantly know about the fact that your computer was infected. Their developers do not lack humor, which is why such malware can use images that appear on your screen or audio files that start playing all by themselves to inform the user about an infected machine.

You can learn about some of the most harmful viruses in history can be found in the Computer Virus Catalog. To note that the catalog represents an art project created by curator Bas van de Poel, a Dutch designer also known for working on various advertising campaigns with such brands as Converse and LEGO.

The designer notes that he came up with the art project after being highly interested in computer viruses for a long time. He says that for a very long time he has been interested in "the dark side of computing". According to the designer it all started after he discovered that the infamous Melissa virus was named after an exotic dancer, whom the virus' developer adored.

The first step for Van de Poel involved contacting some of his favorite artists, and asking them to create one of a kind images on a particular topic. He created a list of computer viruses he wanted to see in pictures based on the stories behind them and in some cases based on the visual effects that some of the viruses produced.

Here's a list of works of art that were inspired by computer viruses:

Cookie Monster

This is probably the first computer virus ever created. It appeared in 1960s and was developed by MIT students, who simply wanted to annoy their colleagues. The virus managed to block infected computers. Moreover, users saw the word "cookie" on thir screen. In order to continue working on their PC, they were asked to type the word "cookie."


The name comes from the virus creator's favorite exotic dancer. It infected computers, being spread through email, where it was disguised as a simple attachment. As soon as the user opened the attachment file with the virus, the latter duplicated itself and was sent to addresses registered in the address book of the infected user.


This virus infected only .COM files. Each year on Friday the 13th, computer that were infected with the virus started showing the text that read "Countdown to extinction …," played a melody, and showed an animation of the Grim Reaper.


This worm spreads through local and shared networks. As soon as it was activated, the virus displayed an animation and a text that read "¡Es hora de formatear tu disco!" which means "It is the hour to format your disc!"

The Madman virus

This virus infected just the .EXE files. When the user hit Ctrl-Alt-Del with the goal of restarting the computer, the latter did not respond. Instead an image of an angry man appeared on the screen. When the user hit another key, they would see and image with the following message: "Nothing can save you here, friend — you're in my world now!"


This is the Selectronic and the Madman virus put together as it infected both .COM and .EXE files. But it did not reveal itself instantly. The virus remained on the infected computer for a month, and afterwards the user was unable to use the keyboard as it suddenly stopped functioning for more than 1 minute. Moreover, the user saw a creepy fungus-looking animation on the monitor.

The LSD virus

The name of this virus comes from the strange-looking visual effects that were displayed on the infected computer. The visual effects appeared as soon as all the files in the directory it was in were erased.


This trojan was created to infect mobile phones working on Symbian. It replaced all the app icons with images of skulls. In addition, the virus attempted to drain a phone's battery.


This one affected .EXE files and spread through the user's Outlook address book. The virus appeared as a cool screensaver, which, however, did't do anything good – it just "melted" your screen!


The virus looked like an ordinary music file. However, when the user attempted to open it, the virus instantly replaced all of the files with images of squids.


The virus was disguised as an email attachment. When the user opened it, the malware displayed an animation of fireworks along with the text reading "Happy new year!" More than that, the virus messed up several system files.


The name is obviously deceiving. The virus managed to infect over 50 million computers in just a few days, and the total damage it brought was estimated at $10 billion dollars. Hidden under a love letter, the malware erased all local files on a computer as soon as the user opened it.

Code Red

Initially the virus had no name. Marc Maiffret and Ryan Permeh from a digital security company discovered it and decided to name the malware after Code Red Mountain Dew - a drink they had during the discovery. Code Red is believed to cause a damage of billions of dollars back in 2001.

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