A laptop filled with some of the most dangerous known examples of malware has sold for $1.3 million in an online auction.
‘The Persistence of Chaos’, a piece by artist Guo O Dong, is a 10.2 inch Samsung Netbook from 2008 that’s been infected with six different strains of malware believed to have collectively caused $95 billion in damage to IT systems across the world.
On the laptop is ILOVEYOU, a virus that originated from the Phillippines and went on to affected computer systems from Hong Kong to the Houses of Parliament in 2000. It spread as phishing email with the headline ILOVEYOU, looking to exploit office workers looking for love.
MyDoom, allegedly a Russian email worm said to be one of the fastest spreading viruses, first appeared in North America in 2004. At its peak, one in 12 emails reportedly carried the bug.
Also on the laptop is SoBig, a type of Trojan worm that has been transmitted via email as viral spam, it can damage both the computer ‘s software and hardware. This affected millions of Internet-connected computers running Microsoft Windows in 2003, while Microsoft offered a $250 reward for information about the creator of viruses. The hacker has never been identified.
In addition, there is the DarkTequelia virus, which has been active since 2013 and is used to attack customers for online banks in Mexico, BlackEnergy the malware used to cause a blackout in 2015 in Ukraine the most famous of all – the WannaCry that damaged the NHS and many other public and private organisations around the world in 2017.
The piece was sold to an unknown buyer for $1.3 million and will be shipped from auction in New York. Speaking before the sale to Motherboard, Guo explained that he wanted to explore how malware works.
“These fragments of software seem so abstract, almost fake with their funny, creepy names, but I think they emphasize that the web are not different worlds,” he said. Malware is one of the most dangerous ways the Internet can jump out of your monitor and bite you.
Gough initially trained as a painter but shifted his focus to working with 12-year-old technology. His other “Hipster on a leash” projects, in which he traveled around Brooklyn, led by “hipster” on, you guessed it, a leash. He designed a Twitter bot called China Heads, which tweeted news headlines but changed names and places with alternatives from China.
“This shift was advancing at about the same rate as the online transition from feeling pleasant and free to consume and oppression,” Guo said. “Regardless of the use of my computer, I ‘m always online: circulating through various systems controlled by me or companies or governments.”
Guo has said that all the ports on the machine have been disabled in an effort to prevent each malware from spreading.