Virus History – 2001 to Present

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After the flurry of viruses that haunted 2001, 2002 was amazingly quiet. Unfortunately, 2003 took off again.

January saw the SQL Slammer worm infect over 75,000 systems in about ten minutes. It attacked a flaw in Microsoft’s SQL Server, and basically slowed down the entire Internet.

The Blaster worm attacked in August. It was meant to cause a Denial of Service attack against the Windows Update website, by causing all infected systems to flood the site on August 15th. The programmer was convicted because investigators actually found his name in the virus code.

Only a few days later, SoBig attacked. This was another emailing virus. After infection, it searched the files on the hard drive for email addresses and sent itself to any it found.

October saw the release of the Sober emailing virus. Sober was notable in that it would shut off antivirus programs after infection.

The fastest-spreading virus to date was MyDoom, which struck in January 2004. At one point, MyDoom was responsible for 1 out of every 10 emails on the Internet.

2004 also saw the Witty, Sasser, and Santy virus outbreaks, and in 2005, Zotob and Samy.

In 2006, the first Mac OS/X virus was announced, as well as the first MySpace attack, “LordoftheNoose,” This program changed the names of MySpace profiles, and locked out users to keep the names it set. At one point, as many as 70% of all MySpace profiles were infected.

So far in 2007, another MySpace virus has erupted, and the Peacomm Virus attacked. Peacomm was an email that claimed to be a video clip.

Historically, most viruses have used very similar attack routes. Either they carried an attachment which the user had to open, or they took advantage of a known flaw in the system which had not yet been fixed. The moral of the story is this: Keep your updates current, and be wary of unusual attachments.

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