We love computers – they’re incredible. But the thing about computers is that they’re also very obedient – they do what they’re told. And when they’re fed code that instructs them to do something malicious, they obey.
That obedient quality of computers has led to, as most computer users know, exploitation by the writers of viruses, worms and other types of malicious software. In the early days of computing, viruses were just for fun and were mostly innocent and harmless. Throughout the past 30 years in which F-Secure has been in this business, they’ve evolved, and nowadays viruses and malware cost billions of dollars in damage to consumers and businesses per year.
When we started, viruses had to be on floppy disks in order to spread to other computers. Now, malware mostly spreads via the internet: malicious or compromised websites and ads, and emailed links and attachments. The perpetrators used to be teenagers working out of their parents’ basement – now the perpetrators are organized crime gangs who are in it for the money.
And there’s a lot of money in malware. For example, when it co-opts your computer into a botnet to send spam emails. Or when it locks up your files and demands a ransom for their release. Or when it steals your personal information such as banking credentials and other sensitive info.
Over the past few decades, there’ve been plenty of malware outbreaks, but which ones are most notable? We asked someone who should know: Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer of F-Secure, who’s been fighting viruses with us for decades.
Here are Mikko’s picks for the top five viruses of all time:
Yep, computers are pretty incredible. But they do what the code tells them to do. And that’s one great reason to have protection that ensures viruses and malware are stopped – because otherwise, your computer will blindly obey them.